The Power of Acceptance, And My Path Out of Depression

It is in our acceptance of our flaws that we become flawless. It is in the acceptance of our failures that we release ourselves from the mentality of failing. Acceptance is a very powerful tool that can release us from past trauma, guilt, shame and fear. How?

We all have certain experiences, traumas, personality traits, failures, guilt and aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable. We are embarrassed that we failed, that we crashed, we feel guilty that we hurt someone or ashamed that we did something unbecoming. And we spent years, even decades hiding those icky feelings from the outside world. Where did we put them? Inside ourselves, where no one could find them. After all, that is the only place where no one can look. For a while it feels safe because no one can make us access that secret data bank of ugly situations and uncomfortable feelings we bottled up inside ourselves. But, life has a way of throwing curve balls, and one of them is bound to hit and send us into a downward spiral.

It all happened a few years ago when my life came to a screeching halt. A few consecutive personal and family disasters threw me into depression. I wrote about this period of my life before, and why I chose to face depression and those buried parts of myself head on, without drugs. That story got me a lot of criticism in the private forum and via this blog, when someone declared that I was advising people to not take medicine for depression. No, I simply stated that it was my personal choice, and I am in no way advising anyone to do that.

So, why did I face depression without drugs? Because I knew that there was something within me that I had to face and deal with. As painful as it was, I knew that I could no longer afford to ignore those aspects of myself. I knew that drugs would dull my senses, and that they could make me feel better, but I also knew that there was a lot within me that I could not unearth with dulled senses. I am a very introspective person. I have been meditating for 15 years, and learned that most of my answers are within. Now I was facing something excruciatingly painful, but having released pain before with my mind, I knew that whatever monster was inside me, I had to face all by myself. It was my own rational decision. No one guided me into rejecting drugs or therapy, I decided to explore my own abyss, to find that person I have been hiding, to deal with those emotions I have been erasing, to get to the bottom of me.

For me, depression was a life altering experience, especially the long, painful crawl out of it. I learned so much about myself in that grueling shadow that I choose to write about it. Looking back, the events that lead to my depression weren’t so important, these things happen to everyone. But those events forced me to face the fact that my current reality does not allow me to hide any longer. Life was exposing my past failures, disappointments, toxic beliefs and I had no say in it. Suddenly my mask was cracking, and that perfectly nice and polite me who loves everyone, now had a bruised and battered ego. It was time for it to go, it could no longer cover me.

I panicked that no one would like that highly flawed version of me. Who could possibly want to be friends with me now? I was embarrassed about my stupidity, recklessness, arrogance, irresponsibility, failures, imbalance- you name it, I had a problem with it. Who could accept this version of me? I certainly could not. It felt awful to look at myself and my own darkness. It was ugly.

Most people pretend they do not have a dark side. But there is no yin without the yang, we all exist in duality. Well, depression was my face off with my dark side. My facade cracked and shattered into a million pieces, and my ego was deeply wounded by what it was now staring at- that highly flawed, unacceptable me. The real me was the most painful thing I ever had to face, I had to look in the mirror and face the monster, and admit that this was the me I was refusing to acknowledge all my life. I was one giant, tarnished, rusty, toxic, deeply flawed mess of a human being who was a disappointment to everyone, most of all to herself.

Unfortunately, there is no quick way to deal with depression. It’s like someone turned off the lights, and you find yourself alone in a musty, dark basement having to face those monsters you feared so much as a child that lived in a shadowy corner. Oh, they’re real. No one ever tells you that the monsters are you. You put them there, and if you want a clean slate, you have to clean up your own mess.

Depression hurts. It really, really hurts. I can’t think of anything in this life that hurts more, so I sympathize with people going through it. It’s a long, dark labyrinth, and all of us are afraid of the dark. Rather than dwell on the pain, I’d rather tell you how I found my way out. Acceptance.

As I battled my own monsters for months and months, I grew weaker and weaker. I reached the point where I was fighting my own shadow and losing. I was so tired. I really wanted to give up. As I laid in bed, exhausted, covered in snot and tears I admitted to myself that there is no way out. There’s no way that can I return to the world as myself. That version of me is expired, and gone forever. My world now was the size of a coffin. And it really felt comfy in there. It’s small and safe, maybe I’ll just stay here. Who would miss this mess of a human being?

I started to feel more comfortable in my dark coffin, in fact that was the place I would mentally go to feel safe and feel some relief from the depression. It felt so good and peaceful to be in there, that I decided I’ll just stay here. In fact, when life was unbearable, I would check out, and go into my mental coffin to find some relief. This isn’t so bad. My world is much darker and smaller, but I am okay here.

In that safe spot I started to look at my ugly face in the mirror. I started to accept that monster isn’t so ugly, she’s alright. She won’t win a beauty contest, but she’s still an okay person. I found acceptance for my ugly, deflated, 20 lb heavier, grey-haired, wrinkled, tired self. I’m okay.

I started taking to my old self, the one who swept all the icky feelings and bad experiences under a rug. I forgave her. I understood why she had to do that at the time to protect her ego, to protect her reality, to survive. She’s okay.

I looked at the hundreds of ways I have failed people, family, coworkers, friends, I didn’t meet anyone’s expectations, not even my own. That’s okay, I forgive myself. I am still an okay person.

As I slowly started to accept the ugliest and the most painful aspects of myself, the more I felt okay. Not just okay, the more I accepted, the more I felt better, and better. I stared at all my flaws, scars, guilt, shame and fear, and said okay to them. I accept. This is me now. Acceptance allowed me to embrace the highly flawed me. As soon as I embraced all my scars, I started to view those scars as meaningful, each had it’s own beauty. As soon as I accepted who I am, the more okay I felt.

I accepted one more thing, which was the true turning point from the depression. I accepted the depression itself. Yes, I accepted my low, my self-hate, that hideous feeling, the darkness, the defeat. I accepted that there may not ever be a way out, so I may as well accept that I’m here. If I have to stay in this dark place forever, I’m still okay. Again, as I accepted the depression, it started to slowly lift. It was a lessening burden. I started to feel more ease, then freedom, and then I let go and I was totally free of it.

Depression was the most painful part of my life, but also the most powerful lesson I ever learned. I am glad I faced it, and that I faced it myself. I witnessed with my own eyes my own abyss and all the stuff I put in there, and finally made peace with each and every burden I have been carrying. I stopped fearing my monsters, even made friends with them. But most of all, I found acceptance, and it was the acceptance of the self and all it’s failures that lifted me out of the darkness. It wasn’t instantaneous, it was a long, painful journey, but acceptance lit up my path.

Once I came out of the darkness, I felt more powerful than ever. How can anyone make me feel ashamed, when I have accepted the most shameful parts of myself? How can anyone make me feel ugly when I have embraced and fallen in love with this ugly face? How can anyone make me feel guilty, when I have found peace in the guilt? How can anyone scare me, when the monster is me? How can anyone make me feel less than, when I have risen out of the darkness alone and on my own merit? How can anyone threaten to expose me, when I have exposed and become okay with all aspects of myself? I willingly allowed myself to feel the agony or my lower self, my darkness, and I mastered myself in there. Who could hurt me now?

I laugh in the face of fear now. Go ahead, expose me as a fraud, ridicule me, threaten me, intimidate me, take away everything I have, I will still have more. I found my power and it was laying at the bottom of an abyss I was afraid to plunge into. I am not afraid to look at myself now, nor am I afraid that some unsightly aspects of myself will be exposed for the world to see. I am okay, I am okay, I am so okay! No matter what anyone does, I will always be okay.

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
 – – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The moment that judgement stops through acceptance of what it is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.”
– – Eckhart Tolle

Acceptance is power.

S

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Is Sex Your Binding Agent To Toxic Men?

I started this blog, and the private women’s forum writing a lot about the purpose of casual dating, the fun and joy of having an abundant and glorious sex life, while making your own rules. I still believe that women should enjoy their sex lives unapologetically, but today I want to talk about how if you are inexperienced and unaware, you may be binding yourself to toxic males. Toxic men and women use sex to bind their victims, then hook them into begging for more. This is something that the less experienced women are unaware of, and are less likely to perceive as unhealthy. The sheer strength, craziness and intoxication of such a bond, might even confuse some women into believing this is true love. If it is agonizingly impossible to break this bond, it is likely you are not in love, instead you are in a relationship with a toxic man.


Some of us are just looking to experience many men, learn and grow from the experience, and find our personal power. I support that. But some women are looking for someone stable, a long term love, someone to trust, have a child with. The standards for a man who is marriage material must be much, much higher. But our understanding of what a healthy man and relationship is must be solid. Unfortunately, many women don’t know how to identify unhealthy behavior, confuse that with love, and then bond themselves to that person. If that sounds familiar, this conversation is for you.


Toxic men (and women) are very calculating about relationships. Their goal is not to relate to you, nor is it about the feeling of love, kindness or respect. Instead, their goal is to hook and paralyze you into not leaving, into serving their own needs. Their manipulation technique is to choose the right words, say the right things, play with your emotions, to trigger then train you into behaving in ways that will make you dependent on their artificial “love”.


Have you ever met one of these men? The one with cryptic behavior, hot and cold cycles, sadistic smirk, blatant disrespect, put downs to you or other people, lack of empathy, deception, arrogance, lying, then being offended that you don’t believe him?


The more experience we have dating, the more likely we are able to identify them sooner, and walk away. But my question is, why were we so easily confused in this stage of the relationship, when we could easily detect inconsistency and deception? Why were we starving for his attention when he disappeared? Why did we consciously form a bond to someone who displayed all signs of mistrust? What is it about his irrational, unpredictable, detached, inconsistent behavior that hooked us?


As a female, what was it that actually bonded you to this unstable, inconsistent man? At what point did you want more of him?


Trying to leave a relationship with a toxic and an emotionally imbalanced individual seems impossible. As soon as we have one foot out the door, they wrestle us down and drag us back with love bombing, emotional gestures, whatever it takes. When we do manage to leave a toxic relationship, we leave damaged, drained, scarred, numb. A breakup with a healthy man is very painful, but a breakup with a toxic, cold, detached, compulsive liar, hurts 1000 times more. This kind of love, was calculated.


Having been in many relationships just for the experience in the last ten years, I picked up a few clues and signs that toxic lovers exhibit. Feel free to post your observations below.


You don’t fully meet the man you dated until it is truly over. Sometimes you don’t understand who you were truly dealing with months or years later.


Many of us are allowing people we barely know to come into our lives, rush the relationship, create excitement, take us on an emotional roller coaster, rush into bed. Why? Because for many women, sex seals the deal. Unfortunately, for some women, sex is that binding agent that attaches women to a man. Toxic men know this. Toxic men know weaknesses of women, they count on your brain chemicals making you high on love even when his love is missing. My personal theory is that the more experience a woman has, the more easily she can detach, but for many, many women, this is the point where they become hooked on a man. At this point they lose all reason, and start rationalizing his irrational behavior. If you’ve ever been hooked on a man whose love left you paralyzed, addicted to him, and stupefied without him, you know what I’m talking about. This isn’t love, this is an addiction.


Goddess, know thyself. A self-aware woman knows her strengths and weaknesses. A woman who is aware that she bonds during sex, should know that this is her weakness, so that she can make decisions in her best interest. Rushing into bed does not seal the deal for him, just for you. This is the point that many relationships go crazy, because this is the point where calculated lovers start to condition you, play mind games, go hot and cold, start messing with your emotions.


Rather than repair or negotiate with a toxic man, work on your own self-respect and self-esteem. As a result, your standards will be much higher, and you won’t so easily be taken by a seducer. Dating is an education, and knowledge is power. Never shield yourself from knowledge.


When you respect yourself, and can easily identify confusing behavior, you are a much more difficult target for males who are unhealthy. You will insist on knowing men inside and out, take months to vet them as quality candidates, observe objectively and understand when they are taking you on an emotional roller-coaster ride. You will be able to disengage like a rational, level headed woman, and never doubt your decision. You will trust yourself more than you trust him.


But getting back to sex. As much as I am pro sex, for women having fun, and enjoying a glorious sex life, I am even more for women having an education. You don’t jump into an ocean unless you know how to swim, and you don’t plunge into sex with a man unless you know everything there is to know about him. If the man is toxic, why oh why didn’t you know that before you slept with him?


This is why I am so against dating books and dating rules. Most dating books tell you to time sex to 3 dates, 10 dates, even 36 dates. This is ridiculous, and it plays you straight into a manipulator’s hands. He can be good for three dates, ten dates, even 36, if he is calculated enough to expect you to act when prompted.


The only determinant to sex is YOU. Nobody else. Not a dating rule book, not a dating “expert”, not tradition, not expectations, never the man, and never your fantasy that if you give him sex he will give you love or the relationship he promised. You, your own head and brain are responsible for that decision so know yourself, study that man like you studied your college textbook. Get a degree in all kinds of men, trust me it will serve you better than any university.


I’m writing this because I hear from all of you, and I see first hand, how some smart, amazing, loving, healthy women allow themselves to be taken for a ride. Would you get into a car with a stranger? Most of us wouldn’t, but how many of us have discovered and been absolutely shocked that the man we are in a relationship with is actually unhealthy? Would it have been wiser to determine how healthy he was before we started bonding to him?


I can’t tell you when is the right time to have sex. But for me, now that I have much more experience than a text book, that time is getting longer and longer. My findings is that even textbooks are wrong on that subject.


The correct timing is solely up to you and your own good judgement. But you can’t accurately judge a man when you are bonding yourself to someone you barely know and are trusting long before he has earned your solid trust. Most of us have sex long before we have developed a solid relationship. That’s very fine for those of us who know how to keep it casual and how to keep walking. But that’s a very expensive mistake for women who are looking for a lasting relationship or someone to have a child with. That mistake won’t just hurt you, it will scar the child as well.

S

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Win Friends and Enjoy Relationships With Wu Wei

Have you ever watched a performance by a dancer, or an actor, and noticed that the performance was forced, you could tell that the artist wasn’t in the zone? It seems rigid, artificial, unnatural, there was no flow, life, nor enjoyment in his or her work. You knew immediately that the performer wasn’t feeling it.

Have you ever observed a relationship that seemed stiff, forced, controlled? Neither person is truly feeling it, but both are in it because being bound to someone feels safer than not being bound to anyone at all. Both feel secure, as there is no possibility of surprise, disappointment, misbehavior, nor breakup. Each partner knows what is expected, and each conforms to the rules, so their boat never rocks. They exist in unison, even their opinions are in general agreement, how could one diverge from what they have previously agreed on?

I have been reading a lot about Taoism, and like the concept of “Wu Wei”, which is the principle of “No Force” or “Not Forcing” anything in life. Pushing, management, control, rigid rules, persistence, stubbornness are all variations of force that kill any relationship, and obstruct its flow. The minute we start imposing on other’s free will, we start choking off the relationship.

Wu Wei does not mean that we should always be passive. There is a time for action, and the time for using muscle or slight force. When the current is right, gently tap an object or situation into flow. Think of Wu Wei as the art of sailing, and adjusting the sails, to catch the wind.

The concept is as easy as I describe. Life is all about flow. Whatever you have, you want to enjoy. You will find flow in the most mundane activities if you enjoy the current, rather than micromanage you vessel and float against it. Sure, it’s possible to sail upstream, but you’d be forcing life, and life happens anyway.

Our most difficult relationships are the ones we are trying to manage. ‘He won’t give me this, she won’t do that, I don’t think you should say such and such.’ The more we try to adjust the behavior of others, the more obstructions we put in font of them. If they are smart, guess where they will go? They will float to someone else who doesn’t surround them with obstacles. And they should. Good love feels like freedom.

Make a list of your most frustrating relationships, and think objectively. Who is controlling whom? Who is placing the biggest demands, who is paddling against the current, who is boxing you into their own little world, who is not flowing anywhere? The most stubborn people are paddling upstream, getting nowhere. Let them be.

How to handle people who are pushing your buttons, tying you to an anchor, refusing to let you flow? Put your hands in the air, let go of your need to be right, suspend your need to correct them, cut the cord and flow away. You can’t lose them. Trust me, they will come looking for you anyway. This sounds difficult, because we are used to reacting to whatever people say, or put in our way.  But, non-reaction (another powerful technique) allows us to not absorb their wrath, to not be jailed by their words or demands., so that we can flow away. We free ourselves by not forcing our will upon theirs, but by detaching and flowing our way. This is much easier than you think, because when you are flowing, nothing they do or say can force you into their situation.

Want beautiful friendships? Allow people into your life, and never stop them from flowing out. Don’t even ask. Make yourself enjoyable. If you learn to enjoy your own company, others will enjoy it too. Make your life beautiful, and people will revel in whatever you do.

If a relationship feels stiff, forced, and it requires your compliance, how much do you enjoy it? Rather than cut people off, practice flowing away, not by rejecting, but by flowing towards people whose company you really love. By doing this I realized that I sometimes prefer the company of strangers, or more superficial acquaintances, even people I meet halfway around the world, than in the company of old friends who are always paddling against the current. By being willing to let go and flow, I may have lost 3 old friends I was bound to, but gained over 40 new ones who are also flowing at my speed.

Never tie people down. We feel sorry for that elephant whose leg is chained to a tree stump and we call that cruel, but that poor chump you are dating, who has to be home before midnight or face your wrath, a “good man”. If you feel like you have to catch men, negotiate terms of relationships, box people into your life, bind them with a contract, you feel wrong to people. Some men will let you force them, but trust me you are merely getting a reluctant participant in your life. How would you enjoy that reluctant participant?

What do you really want? Aren’t you in this world, to laugh, love, enjoy, feel, experience, bliss, flow, thrill? Isn’t life beautiful when you can do that? Why not gift people in your life with the ability to be thrilled in your presence? Why not just let them be, encourage them to flow, inspire them to try something new on their own?

Practice Wu Wei in your daily life. Practice not forcing things at work, merely enjoying the flow. When you come across obstacles, put your hands in the air and let them float around you. Apply a gentle tap only when you need to reorient or find a better current.

I tried this in the last few relationships I had. Here is what happened. One guy was impossible to deal with, threw every punch straight at my heart. Rather than tackle him head on, I threw my hands in the air and at first it looked like I was about to let him do whatever he wants. As I stood there, detached, flowing while he was making threats against me in a public place, and as I enjoyed my peaceful flow, he all of a sudden became self-conscious. Imagine being the only one fighting and no one is fighting you back. The girl you are trying to put down is actually enjoying herself, standing taller, unaware that you are powerful at all. How stupid did he look, red and angry as a bull, while I busy flowing? His fists was punching my wind. That’s flow. When he realized how stupid he looked, he started crying. Yes, a 6’5”, 220 pounder was crying like a baby, begging for forgiveness. Wu Wei quickly and easily allowed me to stay composed, and flow toward somebody much more enjoyable. You don’t have to clash with people, you just have to flow out of that experience.

Wu Wei, no force, or non-resistance is surprisingly easy to learn. When someone starts pushing obstacles in front of me, I simply let them. They get no reaction from me, I detach, and tune into myself. You’d be surprised by how quickly people stop threatening, conspiring, forcing anything when they see how ineffective they are in their own situation.

Relationships have become easier, not because I have some powerful technique to manipulate people with, and you should never think of this as a tool to prod others. I believe that control and manipulation are immoral, and a sign of low consciousness. It is stooping to an ultimate low to get others to act in your interest.

However, relationships are easier because they feel lighter, less bound by rules. Rather than negotiate terms of a relationship with someone whose flow is rigid, or someone who is anchored, I easily flow away from them, and toward someone who feels better to me. I stay for longer periods of time because we are more likely to be in sync, going in the same direction.

Wouldn’t you rather be with people whose presence feels awesome?  This question applies to all areas of your life. Wouldn’t you rather work with people who are as free and as non-resistant as you? Or would you rather tie yourself down to someone who is stubborn, occupying your time, making lists of things you should be doing, negotiating how you feel, and deciding when you should commit? They have a whistle, a clipboard and a deadline, and you are not progressing at the pace that suits them. How does that kind of relationship feel?

Wu wei is a concept of Taoism that means “inexertion”, “inaction”, or “effortless action”. It is not about being passive, but about bending with the wind, taking gentle action to adjust our sails. It is about being in alignment with nature, our external world, as well as our inner world and physical bodies. Everything in this world flows in cycles, there’s a natural ebb and flow, and the way to enjoy every moment is to effortlessly surrender to that flow.

Let people flow toward whatever suits them, and they will appreciate you more. All your friendships and relationships will feel healthier if you find your own flow, and catch your own current.

S

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The Monkey Mind- A Powerful Self-Healing Tool You Are Ignoring

That negative voice in your head. Do you hear one? No, you are not crazy, it is what some meditation teachers refer to as the Monkey Mind. It talks incessantly, it has a mind of it’s own, it bounces from topic to topic, spinning it’s own truth which often has nothing to do with objective reality. Or does it? Have you ever listened to your Monkey Mind? If people heard what’s in my head, they would definitely think I’m bonkers. But everybody has it to varying degrees.

The Monkey Mind is usually thought of as a hindrance or a handicap because it interferes with focus, limits attention span, distracts us from thinking about what we want and focuses into seeing life’s obstacles, creates problems, sometimes we fight ourselves or other people in our mind.

As someone who has been meditating for 15+ years, I now see some benefits to observing what the Monkey Mind is talking about. Yes, in meditation, we are taught how to mute it, so that we can see beyond it. That is a tremendous power on its own, but after years of suspending it, I now see value in observing it. There is a lot of bad habits that your Monkey Mind has picked up from your daily life, and you might find astounding how those thoughts have become your practiced reality.

Sometimes my Monkey Mind won’t shut up, it keeps me up at night, and at other times it literally gives me a mental slap in the face. Only I am not listening. For years, like everyone else, I believed it to be a negative distraction, something to be shut off. At one point, it drove me crazy so much that meditation would no longer kill it, and I really considered asking for a prescription to dull it’s screaming voice. Then one day, I decided to actually listen to that annoying beast.

Take a pen and paper and keep it nearby as you go throughout your day. I even have a small notepad on my nightstand for those occasions when that Monkey won’t let me sleep at night. Write in as great a detail as you can, even when the thoughts and ideas repeat themselves. Do this for at least a week, a month preferably. Do you see a repeating story, a subject or idea you are stuck on, an anger or a fear that has been there for years, or a story that has actually become a real life problem?

Your mind serves an important purpose, and those seemingly useless thoughts are your body’s way of communicating with you. Spiritually speaking, there’s a higher purpose to mind-body communication, but for the purpose of this post, it is enough to say, Pay Attention! If you have anxiety, you know there are times when you can’t think clearly, if you are dealing with stress or painful circumstances, you may lose awareness, or have a hard time making logical decisions. Trust me, your mind is still operating, it is communicating with you in the best way it possibly can. It is literally screaming. All you have to do is listen.

It is astounding what I have realized about myself, my mistakes, my self-created obstacles, my personal failures, my self-sabotage, those problems I blamed on other people or unfortunate circumstance, once I started actually listening to my Monkey Mind as it keeps warning me on auto-repeat. Wow! Is that really me?

You see, I rely on meditation to ease anxiety, manage stress, but also, after many years of practice, I had some phenomenal experiences meditating that lead to it becoming a regular practice. I even found my personal power in the process. Thus, I always believed that my goal was to suspend the Monkey Mind in order to get into those higher mind states. Higher mental states are life altering experiences. Imagine not needing drugs to get high in less than 30 seconds, touching energy, seeing beyond what is right in front of your eyes. But, the mind still talks on auto-repeat, and don’t be fooled into thinking that those less high mind states are less important.

In fact, they are probably more important because those states are easier for novices to get into, and there is so much value to observing your mind. So, if you don’t like to meditate, you don’t have to. Take a pen and paper and start writing those crazy thoughts that pop into your head every few minutes. I wrote about 15 pages before my jaw dropped and I saw value in those words on paper. After 50 pages, I had some astounding realizations about my self and my own operating system.

At the risk of sounding insane, here is what I discovered. I am angry. I suppressed an anger that stemmed from childhood. I convinced myself that I dealt with it and moved on, but actually I just stomped all over it and suppressed it. Funny, that anger kept coming out and getting stronger after each failed romantic relationship. The Monkey Mind kept reminding me it is still there, I kept ignoring it. I have fear. Deep in the back of my mind, also in the pit of my stomach there is a fear that keeps bubbling up every -10 months. It is a ridiculous fear, but in the last few years that same fear has caused 2 car crashes, accidental physical injuries, etc. I see injustice in everyday situations and I play them over and over in my mind. This has caused me to say some inappropriate things to coworkers. I have had some inexplicable physical symptoms that my physician could not cure. They too made sense, when I started listening to my mind explain what I am doing wrong to my body.

It is amazing how we refuse to listen to our own mind. Why would we, it reminds us every minute of the day what we are doing wrong. It’s like that nagging mother we learn to tune out in our childhood. But the Monkey Mind is a beautifully designed mechanism that fits compactly into our head. Don’t you wish you had an app that could help you decipher yourself, waive a red flag when you are doing something stupid, warn you for the 150,000th time not to stick your finger into the electric socket?

I write about meditation a lot because I am in awe of the fantastical, mind-boggling, and empowering experiences I have had with it. But I do understand that it is not easy, and that some people don’t like to look within. If you have trouble mediating, you can still listen to your mind, by writing down your thoughts, in fact, go a step further, and write out your dreams too. They are even more powerful tools that allow you to witness your subconscious. If you live alone, talk to yourself out loud. You might hear yourself criticize or beat up on yourself, fight imaginary bad guys. Those mental fights and internal anger are just your attacks on your self. Don’t believe me?

When you are angry at a boss, a traffic cop, or your ex, where does the anger reside? Is the anger inside you, or is it inside the cop? It is yours. No matter how angry you get, you cannot put that feeling of anger inside another person. It resides firmly inside you. So who is it hurting? Only you. Who is your fear scaring? Only you. Who is your hate killing? Only you. Allow all these negative emotions to come out, don’t retaliate against your own thoughts. By allowing your monkey mind to speak, by releasing pent up emotions, you can now identify them.

The good news is that once you understand how you are hurting yourself, how your body responds to its own mind, how you create your own negative patterns, how you sabotage you own progress, it is very easy to change course. Don’t believe that it’s that easy to reverse years of negative self talk?

Imagine you are an athlete, a runner, and you noticed a very light, dull ache in your knee after each run. Of course that is normal for an athlete, so you quickly dismiss it. Only the ache persists. You keep ignoring it as long as you can still run. It takes moths, or years for the pain to get worse, but you are so used to it you can’t remember life without that annoying ache. Until one day, you hear a crunch, your knee freezes, and now you can no longer move. If you are paying attention to your own body, you know you caused the pain by yourself by running. At this point, will you stubbornly keep running? You can’t, it’s impossible, your brain knows any attempt to run will do more harm. Even if you took a painkiller, your understanding of how you have caused your body pain would stop you from running and seek medical attention. By that same token, awareness of what you are doing wrong with your thoughts, helps you to easily pause, then change your thoughts. Could you now go to your physician and tell her that the knee hurts because someone made you run too much? Could you convince yourself that the pain is caused by something else? You wouldn’t be able to once you become aware of how you created your own injury.

Awareness of your own thoughts is an extremely powerful self monitoring tool. It allows you to objectively see how you create your own issues, precipitate your own problems, project your negativity onto others, how you are sabotaging yourself. The beauty of this is that it allows you to make changes to your own behavior before that behavior turns into a permanent injury, a crime, an addiction or something that could cause lifelong problems.

The best part is that seeing your own Self as it truly is, allows you to make adjustments. You can now refocus, manage your thoughts, stop certain habits, and create new ones that will drive your life into a different direction.

Your Monkey Mind is like your personal GPS system. It warns you when you are about to derail yourself, and no matter how many wrong moves you make, it will always keep talking. “Course correction, make a U turn”, “Your wheel fell off because you kept driving into that pot hole over and over again. Didn’t you see the pothole you silly goose?”

Don’t fight your Monkey Mind, and don’t force it to shut off. Just, listen. Life’s most important realizations come from within.

S

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Who Determines A Woman's Value?

A friend who is also in the private “Goddess” forum said something that truly resonated. “Women have to understand that they are they are the only ones who can determine their own value”. What did she mean? Often women derive their value by how men or the outside world treats them. Those women who get everything, or those girls who are treated like princesses must be valuable, but those who get kicked to the curb, must not be. That isn’t true at all. Often those are the same women. When a man needs a woman he treats her very well, and when she is spent or when he is done, he tosses the same woman aside. But women who derive their value from how others treat them will never have any value at all. Their self worth is based upon the behavior and opinions of others.

For most people it takes a lifetime to learn that we build our own self-worth. Most of us weren’t born with it, most of us had to learn the hard way that we have to value ourselves. For most women, these are just nice words that are rarely and often reluctantly put into practice. But, how people treat you is a reflection of how much you value yourself, so doesn’t it make sense to invest your time, money, your spirituality and your growth into yourself?

When I was young, I rebelled against my parents because they thought that their words should have a greater impact on what I do and how I feel about myself, which I knew was demeaning. But, later when I was married, yes I derived much of my self-worth from how my ex treated me (luckily he treated me very well), and how happy he was with the marriage. (eeew, but yes, that was me). Later, as I experimented with many men for almost a decade, I realized that the only ones who valued me were the ones who admired my boundaries, my ease of saying No, my willingness to stand up to them, even lose them. The ones who did not respect me were the ones who crossed my boundaries easily, without me putting up much of a fight.

So, while there may be low quality men in this world, you can’t blame your low value on how they treat you. You have to take responsibility for finding worth within yourself. When the only way you can feel loved is when the man shows you his love, you will always fall short. No human could possibly love you the way you should love yourself.

Building self worth is a long and painful process. It takes years. But, it is the best investment I ever made. When your level of worth is much higher than any person could give you, relationships become much easier. A lot of low value people will not even bother to approach you. A high value woman is “too much effort” and low value men like them nice and easy. A lot of mediocre men will try you for their own amusement, and give up when they see you don’t give attention to what doesn’t meet your personal standards. Those people will fall out of your life easily too. And a lot of high value men, will first test you. All healthy humans value character, integrity, truth, honesty and authenticity, so don’t be surprised nor offended when people test that. When you are all that, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone except the few you are interested in. Trust me, they will easily recognize you.

I now see myself as Teflon. All greasy, slimy men fall off me 🙂 There’s nothing they could say to hold my attention nor stick to me. But all the value I posses is my own. I built it, so I own it. No one can take my value away by offending me, making me distrust myself, making me feel insecure, questioning my judgment. I know myself, I trust myself, I respect myself, I own myself. How can anyone take away that Self that I created?

Today, all this seems very easy. But, like everyone else who earned value, I had to earn it through blood, sweat and tears. But, that friend who said that we are the determining factor of our own value wasn’t exaggerating. You have no value at all, unless you build it all by yourself. Otherwise, your value is dependent on others, and that can easily be taken away.

S

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Why You Can't Walk Away

That one limiting factor that scares women from walking away is having no place to go. Having no destination is that difficult circumstance that blocks women from leaving controlling lovers, toxic friends, dead-end jobs. Here is how to walk away purposefully, powerfully, and confidently.

Walking away is the most powerful move any human can make. It is a well known fact, that in any relationship, whether romantic, friendship or work situation, it is the person who cares the least who has the most power, and the person who cares or needs the situation the most has the least power.  Healthy relationships should not be a power struggle, but often we find ourselves in situations with people for whom control is the definition of a relationship. They simply cannot relate to another, nor feel safe in a situation unless they have complete control. And rather than relate, they manipulate people and situations until those people and situation conform to their needs and wants. Is that healthy?

Walking away is a practical life skill no one should ever feel insecure about. Walking away is a choice, you are choosing yourself as opposed to that toxic situation, and there is nothing more honorable than to honor the self. It seems cold, callous, unsympathetic. We have discussed the cost of catering to other people’s needs and sympathies countless times. But a lot of women fear walking away. Yes, they fear it. Why?

“How will I live without friends?”, “What will people think of me?” “I am not an uncaring person, I’ll just give this toxic person another chance”.  How about that toxic work environment, or that parent who drains the life out of you? Our livelihood and our parents are keys to our survival, but sometimes our devotion to something that isn’t bettering our existence, is a devotion to self-sabotage.

The concept of walking away is misrespresented. Women who walk away easily are referred to by all kinds of names, yet for men walking away easily is a sign of manhood. Why? Shouldn’t a woman respect herself enough? Shouldn’t a woman make choices that honor her? Why is a woman expected to whine, cry, or have a hard time leaving? Are we really supposed to be devoted to difficult people, disserving situations, dead-end relationships, and painstakingly deliberate between choices that honor us and choices that honor other people? Somehow, to a lot of people, service to others makes a woman proper, caring, a real woman, but the other kind, the kind of woman who honors herself first is calculating, shrewd, cold, unfeeling. I have feelings, but I won’t be a victim to those feelings. I have a heart, but when my heart is bleeding, I will honor that heart first, and tend to it rather than destroy my self-respect for the benefit of other people.

Walking away was a skill I picked up at a young age, it was a matter of my own survival. And I learned right away, that when I walk away from people and situations that don’t honor me, I am more powerful, more confident, more respecting of the self. What I wasn’t expecting is that this skill has earned me the respect of a lot of people. Sure, the toxic people you leave behind will resent you forever, but the healthy ones who are watching your every move will take note.

Walking away from difficult, toxic bosses, has earned me career respect. Other executives were watching and noticed that I don’t bow down and submit to disrespectful treatment. I have taken pay cuts, demotions, been called “difficult” for having an opinion, but people were watching. The first thing that happened was that coworkers started asking if they could work for me. Why? They felt safe and honored by me. I won’t throw coworkers under the bus for having the guts to tell me when I am wrong.

The second thing that happened is that those no-nonsense executives who value good work with no drama started inviting me to join their projects. A lot of good managers value honor over politics, they value strong opinions, in fact, they surround themselves with people who don’t bullshit, are capable of validating their opinions with quantifiable facts, and won’t pay to have their egos stroked.

Walking away and choosing your honor first is difficult, but it is valued by honorable people. What kind of people do you want in your life? I didn’t start practicing honoring myself 100% of the time until my 40’s. For decades I felt guilty, I doubted my stubbornness, and like many women out there, I actually believed that there is something wrong with me for leaving toxic people behind. Why can’t I tolerate more? Why can’t I make peace with that manipulator? I must not be a people person, I don’t possess people skills. Wrong.

I do possess people skills, and people do appreciate that. I honor people who act honorably. I don’t honor everybody else. I respect people who have earned my respect, I don’t respect those who demand it. In fact, demanding respect is a red-flag. In my choice to walk away, I am choosing to walk toward healthy friends and relationships, I am always walking toward more happiness, more health, more knowledge, more growth, more experience. Yes, in order to have those better options in life, you do have to walk away from whoever or whatever is keeping you stuck. You can’t earn anything in life unless you are willing to walk in that direction.

What makes walking away easier is 100% devotion to honor. That’s not easy, to many of us that feels selfish. You will get guilted and shamed for choosing your own happiness over others’. Back when I felt guilty for choosing my sanity, my health and me, I struggled to explain why I won’t be loyal to anyone but myself. Somehow, you are supposed to have the loyalty of a dog, and struggle through toxic situations, and remain devoted to them forever. Nope, not me. What made it easier was to say that I am loyal to happiness, health, wealth, positivity, knowledge, growth, expansion, and discovering my own path. No one can argue with that.

Don’t let anyone tell you that walking away is cold, callous or mean. Walking away is your super-power. It demonstrates your self-respect. Anyone who will guilt you for respecting yourself, or try to negotiate a longer stay in what isn’t serving you, does not have your best interest in mind. They have their own.

There are two very important factors to walking away. The word No, and direction. ‘No’ is the most powerful word in the world, and it is a signature word of a woman with strong boundaries. Practice the word No frequently, get comfortable saying it with no other explanation and no apology, start saying it to those people who are the most difficult to say it to. Trust me, it gets easier and easier, until saying No frees you from guilt or their judgment. The second factor to walking away successfully, is direction. You must know what you are walking towards, or people will drag you back to them.

The absence of direction in life is perceived as you having no goals or options, and that makes it easier for people to take up your time, and use your energy toward meeting their needs. You must always have a clear direction to walk to. For example, a man who knows you have no other options can easily keep you bound to him. Where are you going to go? A boss who knows you are not ambitious, knows you are not interviewing and that no other employer is making you any offers. Will she willingly offer you a raise? A friend who knows you are starving for friendships and relationships knows you are not surrounded by better people, and that you will always do whatever it takes to maintain good standing with her.

You will never walk away unless you have a direction to walk in. So, where are you going? When you lack direction, you are easily caught up in the affairs of other people. You start tending to their needs. They won’t value your time, because your time is free and not focused on anything important. They help you be useful by letting you tend to their needs. You become their utility. Why not, you have nothing better to do?

Having direction does not mean that you have to have some high-reaching life goal to change the world. Your goal can be you, and your direction can be your path of self discovery, learning, balance.

People will respect your walking away when they see how easily you maintain your boundaries using the word No, and when they see that you have clear direction when you are walking away.

Think of it this way. When you were a child, did you ever pack your tiny suitcase and try to run away? How far did you get? Chances are that your parents found your plight amusing, maybe they even let you go, because they knew you weren’t going far. With just a dollar of quarters in your pocket, and a few goldfish crackers in your belly, they had nothing to worry about. They knew you’d be back by dinner time.  Do you see now why walking away fails for a lot of women who can’t say no, and have no direction?

Controllers, manipulators, toxic bosses, bad lovers and friends know a loyal dog when they see one. Where would the dog go when there are no other neighbors to feed it? The dog will always be loyal to whoever feeds it.

No one will respect your time, friendship, or work when they see how freely you give it away, how few options you have, how easily you can be swayed to participate in their affairs, how you lack a better place to go. And if you find walking away so difficult and painful, perhaps it is because you have no better place to be. Perhaps you haven’t made that better circle of friends, you have not updated your resume or sent in any applications, perhaps your parents know you’re not moving out of their basement and that you won’t move far from their fridge.

Walking away gets easier with time, because it forces you to always have a direction. Walking away is powerful for women with options, and impossible for people with no options. Your walk away from any situation is totally dependent on you having something to walk toward. You won’t go far without a destination.

S

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The Mate To Your Soul Versus Your Teacher

How would you recognize your soulmate, or the mate to your soul? What is so different about a relationship with your soulmate or what I call your perfect counterpart, as opposed to a relationship with anybody else?

The difference is in how you reached that person. The difference is in the path. A wise friend said “The perfect counterpart is someone that you can only experience harmonious union with while you are in harmonious union with yourself.” In other, less harmonious and less healthy connections, the relationship crumbles when one person aligns with his or her true self, finds his or her true path, while the other person struggles to adjust and align himself to that.

Those connections don’t last long, but they are still valuable teachers. Those connections teach us balance. As long as we struggle to balance ourselves with the relationship or with the other person, we throw ourselves out of balance. Through years of trial and error with various relationships, we always lose our balance when we try to align ourselves with someone outside ourselves. For many people, this lesson lasts a lifetime. They repeatedly try to align themselves with other people rather than align with their true self. In the process they lose themselves, they lose their identity, they lose their pride, they lose their stability. Those relationships seem like a losing game, and many people eventually throw in the towel, give up on looking for the One completely, and then through some much needed solitude, unintentionally find a connection to themselves.

What happens when we connect with that self? We fall in love with who we are, what we have, our circumstances, our life. After all this is all our creation. In this space, the lucky few begin to appreciate their losses, their failures, all their bruises and scars. The process of connecting to the self is long, most people can’t be bothered with it. But for the few who manage to connect, this is a life altering experience.

It is a time for self-discovery, learning, inner growth, editing, discarding beliefs that no longer serve us. The process cleanses us and lightens our load. There is a dark side to the process, it is much more uncomfortable, yet still an enlightening experience. Make no mistake, this is a long journey, one that most people will give up on. However, it is all worthwhile. In that process, we achieve harmonious union with ourselves. We became unshakably loyal to our inner being, our inner truth, to our selves. Other people cease to be as important to us as we are to ourselves. We understand that others cannot create our happiness, and as we gain balance within ourselves, create our own energy, feed our own soul, we reach a state of self reverence. It is the ideal place to be for a being who has mastered herself.

In this state of self-reverence, we all become more attractive to others. In fact, we become magnets for both balanced and imbalanced people. Balanced people, who are like us, acknowledge us, enjoy our company, but stay balanced on their own. Unfortunately, we become extremely attractive to the imbalanced ones too. Why wouldn’t we, we are the epitome of stability, strength, wisdom, truth and alignment.

At this point it is extremely important to become discerning about friendships and romantic relationships. People see in us what they lack within themselves, and often become attracted to what we can provide. Unfortunately, most of them have not achieved balance or alignment, and often seek to lean on us, or extract from us what they lack within themselves. Having given a few of these relationships a chance, I learned the hard way that there is absolutely nothing that I can do for a person who has not achieved their own balance, or done their own inner work. As well meaning as I am, I fail every time.  Those relationships drain me, destabilize me, take away from the quality of my own life. I don’t blame anything on them, my willingness to give energy shows that I too can still lose balance. I need to strengthen my own alignment.

However, I do notice that as time goes by, I am more able to remain aligned despite who is near me. I now determine the health of a relationship by checking in with myself and measuring my balance, asking myself whether I am leaning on someone or is someone leaning on me, how centered am I as the relationship progresses?

I do find that now, after a decade of doing work on myself, I appreciate people who too have done that work. I value their experiences, I can learn from what they have become. I am better able to discern potential relationships by paying attention to the person’s inner world (if they have one), and am more apt to see what they need from me, and what they hope to achieve through the relationship.

But my most valued tool for assessing how balanced the other person is, is remaining in continued alignment with myself. When I can maintain that for short periods of time, I can easily filter out those men who struggle to find their equilibrium and their own power in my presence. What happens most often is that with my awareness locked into myself, they struggle to find my weakness, a need, a crack in my foundation, a way to gain a foothold as they climb up to my tower. They often fall flat on their faces. I don’t help them stand up. Others play feeble mind games, or employ trickery like NLP to control my attention. It doesn’t work, but it helps me identify them.

When I can maintain my alignment for extended periods of time, I am in harmonious union with myself. Some who have achieved this state claim that it is lonely at the top. I think there are fewer people up here who can maintain their alignment for so long. However, here we instantly recognize each other, we resonate with each other, we are among equals. There is nothing to prove to anyone, because we all ARE. There is no asking anything of anyone, because we all HAVE. There is no seeking, because we have all found ourselves. There is no leaning on other people, we are all balanced. Can you imagine how harmonious relationships are among people who aren’t seeking to gain anything from anyone, when no one is feeding off anyone, when all people have completed themselves? There may be fewer people here, but they are all enjoyable.

Relationships should be enjoyable, they should be in independent harmony, they should reflect our highest values. As long as they are not that, relationships are just our teachers. How many excellent teachers have I had? I am grateful for the life lessons, I hope they all found what they were looking for, I wish them nothing but the best that life can offer. But, I am in that place where I can hold on to my own alignment and maintain my own balance, and those who haven’t achieved that are not my equals. I wish them a pleasant journey.

S

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