Believing in Yourself is Crucial for Success

Believe in Yourself!

Reshaping how you see yourself and believing in yourself is crucial for success! We, humans, have a tendency to focus on believing what others say about us instead of believing who we really are. That is how we were programmed, based on our childhood experiences. But, we are not defined by how others see us! And, continuing to believe what others say can hold us back from succeeding in life.

I remember working with one client who was extremely self-sabotaging. She was so unaware of her beauty, inside and out. She was highly-intelligent, beautiful, active, fit, funny, and warm. Yet, she did not recognize any of these qualities. Once she began believing in herself, everything in her life changed for the better! She succeeded at all the things she attempted. This is evidence that believing in yourself is crucial for success. Sometimes we are so off the mark when it comes to how we feel in comparison to how others see us. Most of you wouldn’t treat your worst enemy in the same manner that you treat yourself. Cut yourself some slack and be kinder and gentler.

Are you fairly confident and secure in your own shoes? Do you believe in your abilities and what you have to offer? Or, do you constantly question who you are as a person?  We all have our past, including the experiences that shaped who we are today. If people in your life made hurtful comments over and over, then over time you probably started believing it.  How do you reshape how you see yourself? Are you tired of being overly critical of yourself and your abilities? There is no better time than the present to start believing who you are and what you contribute to those around you. You need to see yourself in a different light and try to replace the negative self-talk with more positive and uplifting dialogue. Make a commitment to yourself to criticize less and accept yourself more.

ACTION STEPS:

1. List your achievements and successes

Make a list of all your achievements. What are you most proud of? Instead of focusing on what you don’t do well, focus on what you have done well. I know that everyone has achieved things in their lives that they should be proud of. Look at this list when feelings of self-doubt begin to arise.

2. Small steps to success

Instead of embarking on large goals that might be difficult to achieve, break them down into smaller tasks. Have a list of smaller goals that you can achieve and feel proud of. By achieving goals you, slowly build up your self-confidence and begin to rely on yourself. Instead of focusing on the 30 pounds you’d love to lose, celebrate two pounds at a time with a pat on your back.

3. Get rid of negative self-talk    

Every time you think negatively about yourself or others, you lower your standards. It is not a very attractive quality to be around someone who is always down on themselves. Start being more aware of your critical voice and replace that voice with positive dialogue. Create an affirmation to “plug” in every time that all-too-familiar voice begins playing in your head.

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse

1.  Does someone degrade you, or put you down in front of others as a result of their own low self-esteem? Do they negate how you feel, or humiliate you?

2.  Is someone controlling your life by belittling you? Are you depending on someone else to make your decisions, because you feel you can’t think for yourself and you go to them?

3.  Someone is accusing and blaming you – they never apologize and blame all their problems on others, however, they expect you to apologize for something you didn’t do.

4.  Neglect – Is someone giving you the cold shoulder or silent treatment? Or not meeting your needs? They withhold affection or attention from you, and moreover, they don’t do what they say they will do.

5.  Enmeshment or codependence –someone makes choices for you or overshares information about their sexual relationship with your father, and as a result, overshares information that is completely violating the boundaries that you’ve set up. And, they do not take into consideration what you want or need.

All of these are signs of emotional abuse, but this does not define who you are!

BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

Are you fairly confident in your own shoes? When do you feel your best? When do you feel the most insecure? Even the most confident individuals go through periods of self-doubt. I am pretty secure in who I am and what I believe, but there are plenty of days where everything seems to go against me and the voice of fear pops up. As long as this feeling is few and far between, it doesn’t affect me all that much. Are there areas of your life where you are a bit insecure? It is very natural to feel confident in certain areas and lack confidence in other areas. That means there is room for growth! Remember, nobody is perfect, so don’t beat yourself up over your flaws. There are many things you can do to improve and boost your confidence. Just like you need to weight train in order to build your muscles, you need to take part in daily activities to boost your confidence. The people you associate with play an important role in your self-confidence. If the people you surround yourself with are constantly criticizing you or your abilities, of course, you are going to harbor feelings of self-doubt. Be extremely picky in who you allow into your life! Just remember that self-confidence is a learned response over time. You put yourself in situations that will ultimately boost your confidence level. Here are some tips to get you started this week:

1. Set and achieve goals

Setting and then achieving goals will boost your confidence. Most people, however, set unrealistic goals that are difficult to achieve. When you continue to fail in your goals, then, of course, your confidence plummets. For now, write down some realistic goals and the steps needed to achieve them. Crossing off even one step at a time will boost your confidence.

2. Participate in activities you enjoy

By participating in activities you enjoy, you are focusing on your strengths and passions. Highlighting your strengths instead of your weaknesses adds up over time. Commit to taking some time each and every day to do something you enjoy. This seems fairly simple, but most people don’t prioritize and set aside this time.

3. List past successes

Make a list of all your past achievements and success stories. It is amazing that we spend so much time and energy focusing on what we have done wrong, instead of remembering all we did right. Make this list and then read it when feelings of self-doubt begin to invade your mind. Keep this list handy and pat yourself on the back when you need a little boost.

Are You a Victim of Domestic Violence?

If one in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, it is safe to assume that we all know of someone who has been affected.  Statistics (based on studies) regarding domestic violence are staggering.

Domestic violence can rob the victim of his/her identity, freedom, and self-esteem (self-worth, self-image, self-respect) and can crush the spirit.  It not only has an impact on the victim, it affects the children and other loved ones in the victim’s life.  But, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.  The good news is.……if one becomes aware of the signs and discovers soon enough that he/she is a victim of domestic violence, and takes necessary action, there is a way out, hope for the future and a way to begin a new life.   

Many people aren’t sure what constitutes ‘domestic violence’ so they don’t know if they are victims of it.  The first step to ending this devastating epidemic is to be cognizant of the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence.  Awareness can turn into a solution.  The following are signs to help you determine whether or not you are a victim:


Warning Signs

  • A partner who puts their significant other down and says hurtful things
  • A partner who discourages one from having any close relationships with family or    friends
  • A partner who places blame and guilt  for their own mistakes
  • A partner who makes all the decisions in the relationship
  •  A partner who acts very jealous
  •  A partner who makes one feel worthless and helpless
  • A partner who throws objects
  • A partner who physically assaults, such as slapping, kicking, etc.
  • A partner who forbids independent activities such as work or school
  • A partner who physically abuses the pets or children when angry at other things
  • A partner who controls access to money, medication, or necessities
  •     A partner who demands sex or sexual activities that one does not feel comfortable with or agree to
  • A partner who sees one as an object
  • A partner who is constantly ‘checking up’

Symptoms

  • Physical signs such as bruises on the arms, wrist, or face
  • Attempting to cover up bruises with makeup or clothing
  • Being extremely apologetic or meek
  • Making up stories and excuses about clumsiness and being accident-prone, rather than telling the truth
  • Being very isolated from family and friends
  • Having very low self-esteem
  • Showing symptoms of depression
  • Having limited money, access to the phone or car, etc.
  • Problems with drugs or alcohol
  •  Exhibiting the warning signs of suicide


If you have been walking on eggshells, experiencing ongoing fear and abuse, identify yourself as a victim, are ready for a positive change, and interested in seeking counseling to help you get through this most difficult, fearful and lonely time of your life, I am here for you. You are not alone. Together, we can get through this and create a life of independence, healthy self-esteem, a sense of empowerment, and feeling safe, so you can move forward into the life you really want for yourself and your family.  I can help you transition from “victim” to “victor” status, and create the life you want.

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic abuse, please reach out for help immediately.  Colorado Crisis Line:  888-885-1222, National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233.     

DO I HAVE PTSD?

Only a skilled and competent medical doctor specializing in psychiatry or a therapist trained in PTSD can definitively tell you if you suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Any type of traumatic event can cause a person to suffer from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress, although PTSD is prevalent among those who experience military combat. Rape, sexual molestation in childhood, a physical assault, witnessing a homicide or suicide, being a victim of a mass shooting or domestic violence, losing someone close to you and numerous other events can bring about PTSD. The symptoms are similar, no matter what incident caused the condition.

If, since returning from a combat deployment and sometimes many years after returning, you can answer yes to any of the following questions, you have some symptoms of PTSD:

  • Do you have prolonged memories of combat?
  • Do you dream about the country in which you saw combat?
  • Do you have nightmares or flashbacks?
  • Do you suffer from bouts of insomnia?
  • Do you ever seem to shut out the world?
  • Do you often feel drained of emotions or just numb?
  • Do you avoid things that remind you of combat experience?
  • Do you find that the anniversary dates of certain events in your combat experience make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Do you find it hard to make and keep friends?
  • Have you had multiple marriages?
  • Is your current marriage strained?
  • Have you abused alcohol or drugs to help you feel better?
  • Do you have no plans for the future or could you not care less about the future?
  • Are you irritable and prone to unexplained outbursts of anger?
  • Are you jumpy or over-reactive to things that fail to startle others?

Most people experience one or more of these symptoms in the normal course of life.  However, the more of these symptoms you have on a recurring basis, the more likely it is that you have PTSD. Wives of veterans can also suffer from PTSD if they have been a caregiver to their husbands who struggle with it. 

Preparing combatants psychologically for war is antithetical to helping them recover from its psychological trauma. To expect otherwise places an unreasonable expectation on our military. The military has made an extensive effort to help its personnel adjust to the stress of combat.  However, in the environment of a professional army, many active-duty personnel view psychiatric treatment as an admission of weakness or failure. 

Left untreated, PTSD only becomes more engrained and less responsive to treatment.  Failed relationships, career and employment problems, substance abuse, depression, suicide, homicide and other acts of violence can be the end result of untreated PTSD.

Make a Life List

If you knew with complete certainty that you were going to take your last breath tomorrow, what would you do? Would you call all of your loved ones? Would you travel the globe? Would you spend some time thinking about everything you wish you had done in your life? We all have dreams and visions of what we will do “someday”. But, what is “someday?” The fact is, that most of us have no idea exactly what tomorrow will bring. The past is in the past and so the only guarantee is the here and now. Why not take the time to list everything that you’ve ever dreamed of accomplishing in your life? Randy Pausch, who became famous after his “Last Lecture,” knew with certainty that his life was coming to an end. He lived his life more fully in his forty-seven years than most of us live in our lifetimes. He made his life list and actively engaged in achieving the majority of the items on his list. He didn’t have “someday” like the majority of us do. I want you to think big on this list. Have you ever dreamed of scaling a fourteener? What about sailing around the Mediterranean Seas? At some point, you need to stop wishing and start living. Take some time this week to put this list together and then take the next step of acting on some of your wishes.

ACTION STEPS FOR THE WEEK:

1. Make your list

    Throw away all of your old lists. It’s time to bring life to a new list. Create a new list of everything you intend to achieve in this lifetime. Have fun with this list—dream big! You are your biggest obstacle when it comes to making it happen. You are the only one who can plan, research, and, ultimately, follow through on your dreams. 

2. Break it down

    Looking at this list and determining where you are in your life right now, select a couple of items that you would love to accomplish this year. Highlight them, and then start detailing a month-by-month plan to make it happen. Creating a realistic timeline and breaking down your tasks into smaller accomplishments will allow you to feel less overwhelmed.

3. Enlist support

    It is critical to surround yourself with people and resources who will help you stick to your goals. Do your homework, research the details and then, ask for help making these dreams your reality. Use your friends and family as accountability partners who will check in on your progress.

“Attention Singles!”

Sometimes when someone comes to me seeking help in meeting someone, I give them opposite the advice they are expecting. I tell them while we are working together, at least initially, they should take a break from dating altogether. We need to take the focus off pursuing someone, and into attracting people to themselves. It’s important to reflect on why past relationships didn’t work, what their role was in the downfall of the relationship. It is also crucial to define what, exactly, you are looking for, while taking extreme self-care along the way. Once you turn your focus around and begin fine-tuning what you are looking for and what you are not looking for, things will begin to click. Here are some things to focus on:

1. Make room

If you truly want to attract someone into your life, you need to make room for it. Take a look at your life right now. Are you so busy with work and obligations, that you are sending a signal that you are not available for a relationship? Even if this is not a conscious choice, you need to adjust your life so that you have room to nurture a relationship. Make bringing someone into your life a priority. Cut back on responsibilities or tasks that don’t mean something to you.

2. Create your ideal mate

I have had many clients perform this exercise and create astonishing results. I would like you to get out a sheet of paper and write exactly what your perfect partner would look like. I am referring to personality traits, physical characteristics, values, and likes. Do not just write “tall, dark and handsome”. That is extremely general. Try to fill the paper with the attributes that are the most important to you. Most of my clients tuck this paper away or forget about it altogether until someone special comes into their life. Then they ‘happen’ to find the paper and are blown away by the comparisons. Some of my clients have attracted a partner that has every one of their requirements, minus one or two. They don’t realize that they attracted that person to themselves once they put that intention out there.

3. Get involved

Ok…you’ve made room and written your list, and he or she still has not magically appeared? Well, instead of “waiting” for this person to make their way into your life, get engaged in life and put it out of your mind. Sign up for activities you enjoy. Go to social engagements. Try new things that are a bit out of your comfort zone. By getting involved in activities that you enjoy, you are naturally going to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. You never know who will know someone, who will open doors for you, or what will happen when you begin to enjoy your life again.

7 Steps to Making Your Relationship Last

What makes love last a lifetime? Affection? Sure. Mutual trust and respect? Absolutely! But a great marriage is not just about what you have. It’s about what you do to make a relationship stronger, safer, more caring and committed. Here’s how to make your “forever” fantastic.

Marriage is a home, a refuge against the outside storms. And like any house, it requires a strong, lasting foundation. To build one, every couple needs to take certain steps that turn the two of you into not just you and me but we. You may not move through all the steps in order, and you may circle back to complete certain steps again (and again and again). But if you make it through them all, you’ll be well on your way toward creating a marriage that will be your shelter as long as you both shall live.

Step 1: Find a shared dream for your life together.

It’s easy to get caught up in the small stuff of married life: What’s for dinner tonight? Whose turn is it to clean the litter box? Did you pay the electric bill? But the best partners never lose sight of the fact that they’re working together to achieve the same big dreams. They have a shared vision, saying things like, ‘We want to plan to buy a house, we want to take a vacation to such-and-such a place, we like to do X, we think we want to start a family at Y time.

This kind of dream-sharing starts early. “Couples love to tell the story of how they met,” points out Julie Holland, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. As you write and rewrite your love story (“our hardest challenge was X, our dream for retirement is Y”), you continually remind yourselves and each other that you’re a team with shared values and goals. And, when you share a dream, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to make that dream come true.

Step 2: Ignite (and reignite) a sexual connection.

In any good relationship, sex is much more than just a physical act. It’s crucial for the health of your emotional connection, too. It’s something only the two of you share.  It makes you both feel warm and loved.  It draws you back together when you’re drifting apart. And….it’s so much fun!

Striking up those sparks when you first meet is easy. The hard part is nurturing a strong, steady flame. When you’ve got a mortgage, a potbelly, and a decade or two of togetherness under your belts, it can be hard to muster up the fire you felt when you first got together. That’s when it’s even more important to protect your sex life and make it a priority. You have to keep working at creating fascination and seduction for each other or your sex life will become dull.

As the years go by, you’ll keep revisiting and reimagining the passion you have for each other. And if you keep at it, you’ll have a sex life that rises above your marriage’s lack of newness, the stresses of family and work, the physical changes that come with aging. Now that’s something worth holding on to.

Step 3: Choose each other as your first family.

For years, you were primarily a member of one family……..the one in which you grew up. Then, you got married, and, suddenly, you became the foundation of a new family….one in which husband and wife are the A-team. It can be tough to shift your identity like this, but it’s also an important part of building your self-image as a duo.

It’s important to learn to talk to each other when there are issues to resolve……not talk about each other to someone else in the family.  It’s about becoming a team in working things out or dealing with issues relating to the behavior of another family member. 

Whatever your challenges —- an overprotective mom, an overly critical father-in-law……..you have to outline together the boundaries between you and all of the families connected to you. Not only will you feel stronger as a united front, but when you stick to your shared rules, all that family baggage will weigh on you a lot less.

Step 4: Learn how to fight right.

“Fighting is a big problem every couple has to deal with. That’s because fights will always come up, so every couple needs to learn how to fight without tearing each other apart.”

Fighting right doesn’t just mean not throwing things…….it means staying focused on the issue at hand and respecting each other’s perspective. Couples who fight right also find ways to defuse the tension……often with humor.  “Whenever one of us wants the other to listen, we mime hitting the TV remote, a thumb pressing down on an invisible mute button,” says Nancy, 52, an event producer in San Francisco. “It cracks us up, in part, because it must look insane to others.” Even if you fight a lot, when you can find a way to turn fights toward the positive — with a smile, a quick apology, an expression of appreciation for the other person — the storm blows away fast, and that’s what matters.

Step 5: Find a balance between time for two and time for you.

When it comes to togetherness, every couple has its own unique sweet spot. “There are couples that are never apart and there are couples that see each other only on weekends. With the right balance, neither partner feels slighted or smothered. You have enough non-shared experiences to fire you up and help you maintain a sense of yourself outside the relationship….…as well as giving you something to talk about at the dinner table. But, you also have enough time together to feel your connection as a strong tie rather than as a loose thread.

Your togetherness needs will also change over time, so you’ll have to shift your balance accordingly. “My husband and I spend a lot of time together, but it’s almost all family time,” says Katie, 40, a mom of two in San Leandro, CA. “We realized a few months ago that we hadn’t had a conversation that didn’t involve the kids or our to-do lists in ages, so we committed to a weekly date. We were so happy just to go to the movies and hold hands, something we hadn’t done in ages. It felt like we were dating again!”

Step 6: Build the best friendship.

Think about the things that make your closest friendships irreplaceable: the trust that comes with true intimacy, the willingness to be vulnerable, the confidence that the friendship can withstand some conflict. Don’t those sound like good things to have in your marriage, too?

Happy couples are each other’s haven. They can count on the other person to listen and try to meet their needs.  When you’re true friends, you acknowledge and respect what the other person is…….you don’t try to control or change him/her. This creates a sense of safety and security when you’re together —- you know you’re valued for who you are and you see the value in your partner.”

Then, when you’ve been with someone awhile, you almost become a mind-reader. You have a shared history and inside jokes. Your guy knows what you’ll find funny, you forward him links to articles you know he’ll enjoy, and best of all, you two can make eye contact at a given moment and say volumes without opening your mouths. And, is there anything more pleasurable than sitting in companionable silence, absorbed in your respective newspaper reading, sipping coffee, occasionally reading something out loud, but mostly just spending time idly, happily together, communing without needing to speak?

Step 7: Face down a major challenge together.

You’re sailing along through life, and suddenly you hit a huge bump…….a serious illness, unemployment, the loss of a home, or a death in the family. How do you cope?

The truth is, you never know how strong your relationship is until it’s tested. All too often, the stress of a crisis can pull a couple apart. But, the good news is, when you do make it through in one piece, you might just find yourselves tighter than ever.

“What didn’t happen to us?” asks Diane, 28, a preschool teacher in Harrisburg, PA. “My husband lost his job and took a minimum-wage job he was way overqualified for just to make ends meet. He was offered a better job in a mountain town outside San Diego, so we moved. Then, during the California wildfires several years ago, our house burned down and we lost everything. We were living in a one-room, converted garage with no running water and a newborn baby. But, we found that this chaos somehow brought us even closer together. We took turns losing it. We really kept each other sane.”

Marriage is no roll in the hay. It is tough, real work. But, the reward, the edifice you build together that will shelter you through years of tough times, is more than worth the effort. The small, friendly home you build, decorated with your shared history and stories, filled with color and laughter — will be the warmest and safest retreat you can imagine.

Standing in Your Own Power: How to Handle Stress with Dignity and Grace

Stress isn’t always the bad guy that it’s made out to be. The hormones created by stress can actually strengthen neural connections in our brain, and can help us be more productive and focused. Furthermore, stress motivates us to succeed and makes us more resilient.  But when stress strikes, most of us don’t think about its positive side-effects. Instead, we think……this really sucks. Something that differentiates the mediocre from the extraordinary is strength and resilience, and the way we manage stress is a great indication of those two qualities. When I come upon a stressful situation, my goal is to be as intentional as possible with my thoughts, and the way I perceive and process the circumstances. I ask myself these three questions to help me stand in my own power and handle stress with dignity…and sometimes even with a little grace.

1. What can I control here? And the answer is never people or circumstances. You are only in control of your own actions and your own response to a circumstance. Others are responsible for their actions and responses.

2. What can you do to smooth out the situation? When you react to a stressful situation in a way that positively influences others, you have the power to turn chaos into a learning experience, for you and others. Act authentically and consider the personalities involved. How can you guide things to a place where the situation can be diffused or resolved? And if you can’t, don’t stress about it. Refer to question #1 about control.

3. Where can I find acceptance? Sometimes there’s simply nothing we can do to influence a stressful situation. That’s where grace comes into play. Being able to recognize when efforts are futile and take a step back from the situation altogether is a true sign of strength and resilience. It’s not easy, but once you hone your ability to accept situations that you can’t change, you’ll find the most amazing sense of serenity…even in a world of chaos.

There are self-care techniques that can help us be mindful and intentional during stressful situations. Some are fitness, meditation, getting plenty of rest, and eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet, and being authentic and true to ourselves. Those who manage stress are not only more effective leaders, but they are also happier, healthier, and more productive. Start adding self-care practices into your daily routine, and try to be more mindful the next time you’re in a high-stress situation by asking yourself the questions above. You’ll be surprised at the contrast between how you respond instinctively versus how you respond after a moment of thought!

8 Signs You’re in a Strong Relationship (even if it doesn’t feel like it)

1.  You know how to recover from a fight.

2.  You think about your partner often when you’re not together.

3.  You respond positively to each other’s good news.

4.  You spend time apart (do not look to your partner for all your existential

      needs. Find yourself in hobbies, friends, work.)

5.  You have a similar sense of humor. Having a private language with your partner

      (like nicknames and jokes that no one else would get) can facilitate bonding

      and often predicts relationship satisfaction.

6.  You split chores evenly.

7.  You try new things together.

8.  You don’t have a lot of extreme downturns in your relationship.