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When You Take that Leap of Faith, the Net Appears...

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1 minute 27 second read

There is nothing as paralysing as fear. Sometimes it hides behind the mask of indecision, or occasionally a worry about the wellbeing of someone else.

But at the end of the day, if you know you really want or need to move forward but something is holding you back, there's a good chance that somewhere under the excuses you're making is a big ol' pile of fear.

You might try to tell yourself that you won't/can't/shouldn't do it because you're protecting someone or they'd be happier if you didn't. You might say it's because you haven't a clue how to get where you want to go, or that you'd probably fail anyway so what's the point in trying.

But I'll bet if you dig a little deeper, you'll find a fear lurking there to stop you from expanding yourself and your life. And what is the point of this existence if it isn't expansion into something better?

I know what it feels like to take a swan dive off an enormous (figurative) cliff with jagged boulders all the way down the side and a raging river somewhere at the bottom. I know how it feels to be forced into that decision because there's something even more terrifying right behind me.

And I also know that it's true what they say...that when you take that leap of faith, the net appears.

How does that work? Well, once you've done it, once you've allowed yourself the freedom to expand, to try something new, or whatever "the thing" is, you will be open to incoming information that can help. You'll be more receptive to signs, people, open doors or whatever else is required for you to build that net and suddenly, the answers are right there in front of you.

As long as you stay stuck and refusing to move, to grow, to change, or to even try something new, the more stagnant you'll become. You'll always wonder "what if...?" You'll never know all the colours and magic that you could have created for the world to see.

You'll be destined to live a closed, small, grey life of regret and sameness. It might be safe, but it's not at all what you were meant to do.

Go on! Take that beautiful leap of faith. Believe in yourself and discover your purpose. The rest of us are waiting for you.



Do you struggle with Anxiety? Get your FREE copy of my “7 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Get Unstuck” by clicking on the photo, or the button below!

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Grounding: Great for Easing Anxiety

2-minute read

It's awful when anxiety lurks in the dark recesses of your mind, always waiting to grab you by the throat and make your life a living hell for a while. Whether it's a low level anxiety that keeps you constantly on edge, easily startled and nerves jangling, or you're dealing with full on anxiety attacks as a regular occurrence, it's a misery to be invaded by this bloody-minded monster.

I know it can feel like you have absolutely zero control when that happens, when it's got you in its grip, your heart racing and your mind suddenly paralyzed by fear.

Perhaps it's just that you're feeling extra stressed. Sometimes that can feel like anxiety, too, especially as tension increases.

There are many ways to reduce and/or eliminate anxiety permanently, without the use of drugs or other treatments. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I did it and I've taught countless others to do it, too, so I can promise you it is absolutely possible.

And it's also possible to reduce or eliminate stress. Okay, I must be joking, right? Wrong. Stress isn't in the events and circumstances of your life. It's in your responses to those circumstances. Now, of course certain events are going to be difficult to manage, such as the death of a loved one, losing a job or getting a divorce. But even in these highly challenging situations, you can still do a lot to find ways to relax and find a place of inner calm, at least to some extent.

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One of the simplest ways to reduce anxiety is to spend some time every day making sure that you're grounded. This is just a way to balance the way your mind spins out of control when you feel anxious or extra stressed.

An excellent way to bring yourself back into your body is to get yourself outside and into a natural setting. Even if all you can manage is to walk or sit on grass, that's better than staying indoors or being surrounded by concrete.

If possible, sit with your back against a tree trunk for a while or if you're not concerned about what others might think, face the tree, put your arms out and give it a lovely, long hug. You'll be amazed at the energy that you'll feel pouring up from the earth into the trunk and into you, too.

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If the weather isn't conducive to that kind of outing, see if you can find a garden center or even a hotel or office building with a lobby filled with plants. Go for a drive in the country. Anything that lets you enjoy nature as much as possible in your circumstances.

Or if you're stuck indoors, close your eyes and visualise deep roots growing out of your feet and extending hundreds of miles into the earth. Feel those roots firmly planted in the ground, where they gather nutrients and energy that then move back up the roots and into your body. Beginning and ending each day with a few minutes of this wonderful visualisation exercise can really help to keep you grounded. It can also become a quick and easy "go-to" answer when anxiety rears its ugly head throughout the day.

The more you do it, the better it works.

Do you struggle with Anxiety? Get your FREE copy of my “7 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Get Unstuck” by clicking on the photo, or the button below!



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You're Not Responsible for Anyone Else's Feelings

1 minute 45 second read

Yesterday, I wrote about the most powerful tool you’ve got, which is the power of choice. It raised another issue, but first I need to back up just a bit.

I was saying that sometimes we feel trapped, even when we aren't. We might feel like we don't have a choice in certain matters, but the truth is, we do. It just might not be a choice that we like because of the potential consequences and in particular, when those consequences involve others being unhappy or upset with us.

"I can't say no, it'll hurt her feelings!" "You make me so angry!" "He pushes my buttons!"

The truth is, you cannot "hurt her feelings." She gets to decide whether or not she'll be upset if you say no.

And no one can "make you angry." Whatever other people do, no matter how boneheaded their choices, no matter how nasty or mean-spirited, thoughtless or selfish, you get to decide whether or not you're going to feel angry, or annoyed, or nothing at all. You get to decide to just dump responsibility for their thoughtless actions back in their laps and not waste any time or energy feeling miserable.

And there is no such thing as having anyone "push your buttons." Now, before you throw rocks at my house, let me explain.

Let's say your jealous younger sister knows you're self-conscious about something. So she teases you and you blow your top. You've given her the response she wanted.

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Next time she wants to get you riled up, she teases you again. You might even be a little angrier this time. She feels quite satisfied because once again, you've reacted as she'd hoped.

The more this goes on, the more you feel like she's "pushing your buttons and making you angry."

But the truth is that you've simply taught her that if she says anything about that issue, you will become angry. If you want the cycle to stop, you have to stop giving her the reaction she wants. She can't "make you" angry. You get to decide whether or not you let her words or actions get to you.

You could just as easily act like it doesn't bother you in the least (even if it does, just don't let anyone see it!). When your bratty little sister sees that she's no longer getting the desired response, eventually she'll stop trying.

So you see, there is no such thing as "button pushing." You are simply teaching people that if they do "this," you will respond like "that." If you want them to stop, then YOU have to stop reacting the way you do.

Be prepared for them to try harder to make you react the way you used to do, but stay strong and don't let them see it. It won't be long, they'll get bored and quit.

Do you struggle with Anxiety? Get your FREE copy of my “7 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Get Unstuck” by clicking on the photo, or the button below!

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The Most Powerful Tool You Have is the Power of Choice

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2-minute read


There are many of us on the planet who are blessed to live in countries where there is great freedom. We have the freedom to pursue careers that we want, to be educated, to go shopping and buy whatever we want, to move about from place to place if we feel like it, uprooting ourselves and setting out on new adventures.

We have the freedom to vote for the government we prefer, to dress as we please, and to travel and explore as much or as little of the world as we want.

Yet in spite of all of this freedom, it is astonishing how easy it can be for some of us to feel trapped, helpless and powerless. We might feel forced or pressured into careers, relationships, financial decisions, or parenthood. We feel like we have "no choice" because of the needs, expectations and demands of others who want what they want from us, and their happiness seems to be the only kind that matters.

Some of us will stand up to that sort of pressure, say "Not happenin'!" and run the other direction.

But far too many of us will feel like we don't have the right to do that. "I couldn't! He/She would be furious!" "He can't do it for himself (usually means "won't" do it...). "I have to do it. They're expecting it." "I hate it but they'll be so disappointed if I don't!"

And on and on and on.

I do understand how that feels. I lived there for a very long time. Too long, in fact. Like many others, I was brought up to believe my needs and feelings weren't important. I was not allowed to stand up for myself, to say what I wanted, or to say "No." Because of this conditioning, even into adulthood I was easily manipulated into making decisions that were about the happiness of others while ignoring my feelings.

Consequently, I didn't feel like I had any choice but to make decisions that felt completely wrong even though I tried desperately to make them feel right. I got into the wrong marriages or other situations that left me feeling trapped and like a hostage.

I take full ownership of that...I'm not pointing fingers. At the time, I couldn’t see that my upbringing and other factors contributed to it and ultimately, I was the one who made those decisions.

But all I could see was that I felt trapped, helpless and powerless.

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The thing is -- and it took me years to figure this out -- I wasn't trapped, nor was I helpless or powerless. I just felt that way.

If you're feeling trapped, it's probably got something to do with obligations, demands and expectations that others are placing on you. But you don't owe anyone your happiness. It's your right and your responsibility to make the most of your life, whatever that means to you, and whether or not anyone else approves. If we can just recognise that, it can help to keep us from making choices that are not in our best interests.

And there's the key phrase..."making choices." This is truly the most powerful tool you've got - the ability to make choices.

Don't waste it on people who pressure you to use it for their benefit and not yours.

Do you struggle with Anxiety? Get your FREE copy of my “7 Quick Tips to Reduce Anxiety and Get Unstuck” by clicking on the photo, or the button below!

 

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the Art of Trusting Your Intuition: Sharon Sayler Interviews Liberty Forrest

Each week, Sharon Sayler, host of The Autoimmune Show, brings you top-notch experts and fantastic 'thrivers' interviews, chats and positive thoughts to empower you to live well regardless of your diagnosis. Honestly, it's the info she wants to hear... because she's an autoimmune thriver too!

In this episode, Sharon interviews Liberty to discuss the importance of listening to your intuition, and in particular, listening to your body’s wisdom to improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Did you know there are over 100 conditions that people are suffering from every day that compromise their immune systems and if it’s not one of the “big ones” like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis you might be told 'it’s all in your head,' or 'people your age…'

Your host for The Autoimmune Show, Sharon Sayler knows the pain and suffering of autoimmune disease. Her struggles to find the right answers to her decades-long autoimmune disease experience created what friends call an “irrational-passion” to encourage and inspire others to live well, whole and complete… 

With that, The Autoimmune Show  was born… the premier location for information to empower you to live well, thrive and create a happy, healthy, wealthy life regardless of your diagnosis. The Autoimmune Show, the #1 listened to show on OMTimes Radio has new shows every Friday night at 7 PM ET on OMTimes Radio. 

You can watch video selections, full interviews, positive thoughts and meditations on our YouTube channel.  And grab the podcast at all the great podcast places like Spotify, Spreaker, Blog Talk, Podbean, SoundCloud and many other popular places plus on iTunes at iTun.es/i6Y95hR 

Be sure and join the Courage Club for The Autoimmune Show! They have most shows in transcript PDF available at no-cost at www.understandingautoimmune.com/TranscribeTribe plus more goodies like videos and downloadable meditations....

And other great opportunities to be part of their community: 

www.understandingautoimmune.com/Facebook www.understandingautoimmune.com/iTuneswww.understandingautoimmune.com/OMTimes www.understandingautoimmune.com/YouTubewww.understandingautoimmune.com/Google+ Instagram: autoimmunehour Twitter: @autoimmunehour

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Pat Duckworth interviews Liberty Forrest

Pat Duckworth author of Hot Women Rock: How to Discover Your Midlife Entrepreneurial Mojo, in conversation with Liberty Forrest. Listen in as we chat about Liberty's entrepreneurial journey, her creativity and her passion.

Visit patduckworth.com for more about this remarkable woman, international speaker and bestselling author, hypnotherapist, and so much more...

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Speak Up, Speak Out

The post below is by a guest who wishes to remain anonymous. It's an important topic and I'd love it if you'd please share on your social media or other platforms. I have recently been driven and inspired to share my story with you all in hopes of giving courage to anyone out there who might be having a similar experience. 

Thank you,
Liberty

About 9 months ago, I achieved just one of my dreams. I landed my dream job of being a designer. I had been struggling for so long to gain this, but it looked like my hard work and dedication had paid off! Like anybody else, I was brimming with enthusiasm and was looking forward to the adventure of starting my new job and relocating from a city to a town.

Months passed, and I loved my days, designing for international and national brands. Life and work were good. It was only a few months into my role that things took an unexpected turn. Although, as a teenager I had experienced bullying on some level, I never thought for one second that I would experience it as an adult - and from other adults!

On a number of occasions, I experienced comments regarding being teetotal and my lacto- vegetarian diet. Some I took on the chin as lighthearted humour, but when it continued I knew something wasn't right.

It became even more questionable that it was not right when people laughed and I didn’t join in! Comments such as the following arose: “We will have to change that about you," “That has a whole egg in it you know," “Come on, you don’t drink, you're vegetarian...what do you do then?" Following these comments, the instigator would always laugh whilst others joined in.

However, on a much more serious level I also experienced direct racial comments. I was called "Brown [my name]" directly to my face by a fellow colleague, following a number of inappropriate words taking the mick out of my Indian culture.

I was totally numb and shocked! Had this really happened to me? It took a few hours for me to even register what I had experienced.

I sought out much advice from family and friends. Half of them urged me to leave my job, and the other half told me this was direct racial discrimination and I should tell somebody in a position of leadership.

After much deliberation, I had to go with my own gut feeling and what my heart was telling me.

Eventually, I built up the courage to tell my manager. I thought I could trust her and usually as you do find in life, there is always one person with whom you feel most comfortable, right?

I told her what the fellow colleague had said to me whilst she was away from the studio, and she was as shocked as I had been. I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

But I was to learn later that this really wasn’t the case.

Once I had told my manager she went and informed the HR manager. When she came back, her opinion of the matter had changed. She seemed more inclined to the idea it was not as serious as I was making it out to be. In my head, I was thinking perhaps the HR manager or someone else had influenced her.

Nevertheless, I was told that the HR manager would have a talk with this colleague and it would go on her record.

A few days later, the colleague who had made the comments apologised to me. She said it was a joke to which I responded that I didn’t find it funny! She made a few other excuses, but I accepted the apology in hopes that things would change and I could move forward.

Later, I was to find out this was just the beginning of everything getting worse.

A day or so after the apology, I saw and heard the colleague who made the remarks to me telling other workers around the business. Following on from her unprofessional behaviour I received further comments like “Brown” as I walked through to the office from another worker and other inappropriate remarks relating to the fact that I had told the HR manager.

Upon receiving these backlash comments, I felt both intimidated and anxious at work. My trust with my manager had been broken and I didn’t feel I could trust anyone in my workplace. At this point, I had been logging and writing down what comments had been made to me.

I would wake up every morning feeling sick. I was restless throughout the day. Eventually, my work and health suffered; I could no longer focus. Weeks at work seemed like months, and I always had the anxiety of being bullied about my colour, culture and life choices.

You might be wondering, why I didn’t tell anyone? Honestly, I believe it’s because of the fear the bullies had put in me. My confidence vanished and hence I had to do something about it. Clearly, I could not carry on like this. I had to make one of the hardest decisions. I handed in my notice.

On my last day, I did inform my manager and HR manager of all the incidents that had happened. They suggested it was banter and that I was getting mixed up, but clearly it was much more than that, especially as I didn’t start any of this, nor did I join in or laugh with them.

Ultimately, they didn’t want to take responsibility for their behaviour. Even though not many people understood, I was proud of myself for speaking up, even if it was my last day.

I guess the main point I am trying to make to anyone who is reading this who might be experiencing a similar thing is you must speak up and out. Don’t leave it until it begins to affect your health and performance. If the people you tell break confidentiality or trust, as happened in my case, there is always someone higher.

Try managing directors, Citizen's Advice Bureau, or great anti bullying organisations.Good people and advice are out there; don’t suffer in silence.

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Feelings. Better Out Than In.

Far too often, most of us choke on our feelings. We feel tears welling up with that awful, aching lump in the throat, and we take several deep breaths, forcing the emotions back down where they can do all kinds of damage. They make us sick or depressed, give us physical pain and discomfort, sometimes with the weirdest symptoms that doctors simply cannot explain.

We fear being seen as weak. For some reason, our culture thinks a display of emotion means we're out of control. But there are only two occasions on which emotions can hurt us.

One is when we stuff them and do not acknowledge them. The other is when we make hasty decisions purely because of our feelings, without thinking them through, and end up hurting ourselves - or others - as the result of our poor choices.

But there is nothing wrong with having painful or difficult feelings, and there is nothing wrong with expressing them (appropriately). Having them makes us human. Expressing them helps to get rid of them and it connects us with others, many of whom will offer support and comfort, thereby strengthening our bonds with one another.

The best way to get rid of unwanted feelings is to immerse yourself in them. Take a little time and allow yourself to really feel every bit of whatever it is that hurts. If you want to cry, cry. Lots. Until you can't cry any more. You'll feel a whole lot better for it. If you're frightened, feel the fear. Ask for some hand-holding. And remind yourself that you are strong enough to get through anything.

Do whatever you need to do when bothersome feelings are standing in the way of you and your happiness, and let them out. Get it over and done - once and for all.

Think of it as housecleaning. Gathering all the rubbish and putting it out on the drive to be collected on trash day. If you keep digging, eventually you'll find less and less “stuff” that needs removing and turfing.

This doesn't mean it's a good thing to sit around and feel miserable every waking minute either. You must strike a balance. But certainly, choking back unhappy feelings is not any better for you than spending 24/7 whining about your miseries for days, weeks and months on end. Once the crying jag is behind you, take some time to look at the positives in your life. Set some goals and take a step or two (even if they're teeny) toward achieving them.

Just don't be afraid of your feelings. Allow them to be heard. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, as the good Dr Phil says. Give your feelings a chance to speak up so you know just what's on your plate. Chances are, the more you do this, the quicker the issue will dissolve or will find a resolution in your heart.

You wouldn't let an infection fester below the surface or in your blood. You'd be off to the doc, figuring out how to fix it because you know that infections left untended can kill you. Well, negative emotions can do it, too. Quietly and insidiously by giving you cancer, heart disease or a million other ailments, or a little more overtly by making you say and do some very hurtful things to yourself and/or to others.

Expressing your emotions is the great equaliser. It makes you the same as everyone else. It levels the playing field. It shows your strength. It shows your vulnerability, your softness.

It helps people get to know you because they see just what affects you on a deep level, which then connects you with everyone else on the planet because really, we are all pretty much the same in many ways. We are unique in our personalities and in our perceptions of our life experiences, of course, but everyone hurts, everyone needs, everyone feels some version of the same emotions. How we do all of this and how we express these aspects of ourselves is what separates us from one another.

But we're really not so different in terms of our emotions. So go on. Stop hiding behind a wall that you think keeps you separate and sets you apart from everyone else. Because I can assure you, you're not fooling anyone. We know you hurt, too.

And we'll be here for you when you're brave enough to tell us about it.

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Feeling Uncertain About Your Future?

I know how it is to feel like you’re immersed in nothing but question marks. Whether it happened suddenly or by stealth, your life seems to have taken a turn down a road that’s dark and thick with trees so you can’t get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

It can leave you feeling uncertain about everything and fearful about not knowing what lies ahead.

But the truth is, we never know what lies ahead, not beyond the very moment in which we are standing. We make plans and we think that they’ll turn out as we expect. Even though we know sometimes it doesn’t happen like that, usually we keep moving forward on the assumption that things will go according to plan.

And we’re shocked when they don’t. Or we’re hurt or feel like we’ve failed. Or we’re afraid because we feel like we don’t have any control over our lives.

In reality, control is an illusion. It’s really just about having a plan and believing it’s going to go as you want. But other things come into play and things happen that you hadn’t anticipated, or perhaps you had but you thought you might be able to stop them.

You have this moment, and only this moment. The only truth that exists is the one that you experience right now. 

Everything can change in the next five minutes or the next breath. Things come out of the blue; life happens and the only thing we know for sure is that change is a given.

When you feel like you can’t stand the not knowing, just remember that you never really ‘know’ anyway. You’ve only got a plan, but there’s never any guarantee that it will turn out as you want it to do. 

When you accept this and just be open to going with the flow and seeing how it will all turn out, you’ve done yourself the biggest favour in the world. Now you don’t have disappointment, because you’ve given up expectation. Now you don’t have fear of the unknown because you’re happy to see whatever comes and view it as an adventure.

 

When you feel lost, it’s all about your perspective. You don’t really know any more or less for having a plan or not - because life will continue to unfold as it’s going to do. Be at peace with this moment and the rest will take care of themselves. 

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Your Strength Is Just Hiding Under A Pile of "Stuff"

It's wonderful to watch people go from strength to strength, taking the difficulties and wounds from their lives and chipping away at the healing and growth that come with time, practice and patience. We're really pretty amazing beings.

We can "take a licking and keep on ticking", as the advert for Timex watches used to say a million years ago.

People don't always react in the same ways to particular stressors. Some people seem to sail through extreme difficulties, whilst others crumble with fairly minor setbacks. What is it that makes the difference?

Well, there's no simple answer to that. Personality plays a part in it. Some people are just generally more easygoing than others, right from childhood. There are those little kids who never seem to get wound up, and others who come unglued over the littlest things.

So we've got a predisposition to cope well - or not - right from when we come out of the chute, so to speak.

Then you throw in learning and experience. Are you someone who has been through a long list of challenging events? Has the universe been hurling things at you over and over again? Have you been finding ways to cope with them through counselling, or support from groups or friends?

Or have you just slammed the door on all of that, and muddled through somehow, despite feeling completely overwhelmed?

People who have seen a lot of adversity may have developed some coping skills that those with less difficult lives haven't needed to use. It's the kind of practice no one wants, but whether we like it or not, some of us get anyway.

Whether your problems are enormous by someone else's standards or not is irrelevant. If they feel like they are to you, then they are. No one else has to live in your shoes or deal with your experience, just you.

So what do you do when you're overwhelmed by troubles? When you feel like you've had one boulder too many piled on top of you?

I've lived there far too often in my life, so I know what that's like. Sometimes I've bounced back quickly, other times not so fast.

It's always hardest when the only light you see at the end of the tunnel is the train coming at you.

There have been times when my usual tricks haven't worked. When it got really bad, I mean really, really bad, I couldn't find even a glimmer of hope, and that's a terrible place to be. I'd look down the road ahead and couldn't see anything positive.

All I could think was that there was no point being here any more, because it was just too much of a struggle with no end in sight.

It's not often that I've been in that place - thank heaven. But at least I've found something that helps me to get out of it.

When looking ahead doesn't do it for me, and in fact just makes it feel worse, I look behind me. I look at some of what I've been through in the past. I look at the traumatic and terrifying times, or the extreme financial struggle, or the life-threatening health issues.

I can look back through my entire life and see decades of difficulties lying there behind me, events I thought I'd never survive, struggles I thought would never end.

But here I am. I did survive, and those troubles did end. So when things get really awful now, I remind myself of that. I look behind me and see what I've overcome. I remember that I didn't think I could have done this or that - but then I did. It's like losing your car keys or that all-important pile of documents you need first thing in the morning. You know they're here somewhere, buried under a pile of 'stuff'. You just have to dig around a bit to find them.

When you're feeling like you can't go on, or you don't know how you're going to cope with the mountain of stress or problems you're encountering, you can reconnect with your strength by remembering that you've had it in the past.

You've come a long way, dealt with so much, and quite possibly with a whole lot worse than what you're going through right now. But you got through all of those hard times. And you found more of your strength with each problem you overcame.

Your strength doesn't leave you; it's always there, hiding under a pile of 'stuff'. You just have to remember it.

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How to Tell When It's Time to Say Goodbye

Do you ever find yourself struggling with certain people who are your friends or romantic partners? Does it seem that no matter how much you love them and try to make the relationship or friendship work, you spend more time being miserable than happy? Do you feel like a salmon swimming upstream, constantly fighting to get somewhere, to make progress, or to make it feel right and to be happy, but you just can't seem to get there?

Perhaps those people keep blaming you for everything that's wrong between you. If only you were more like this or less like that. If only you would do this and not do that, they wouldn't get upset. You live your life, carefully tiptoeing around on eggshells, worrying that you will say or do the wrong thing, trying your level best not to cause a disturbance.

You become anxious, always anticipating what might set them off. You think it's all your fault that they are unhappy - because this is what they tell you - and therefore, it is your fault that you are unhappy, too, because your happiness depends on theirs. You feel rejected; you believe you're a failure and that all you've done is cause those people nothing but of misery.

And then you have a break from those people. Someone goes on holiday or you and your partner separate for a while. After a few hours or a few days, you start to breathe easier. You begin to relax. You smile again, and it feels foreign on your face. You giggle a bit and maybe even laugh a lot. You associate with other people who think you're bright and funny and sensitive and kind.

You begin to feel like your old self. You start thinking perhaps their misery is not your fault after all. Perhaps those people have some issues. Maybe they're just impossible to please. Maybe they're demanding or miserable or irritable, or just plain selfish, through and through.

You're outside the box now, with some breathing room, able to look at those relationships with a different perspective. You see that they're very lopsided. You do all the giving, and the other people do all the taking until you have nothing left to give. But away from them, you feel your strength returning, your sense of worth, and your dignity. You vow that you will not be treated like that any more.

Then the break is over. The holiday ends. Those people are back in your life, in your space, and almost immediately they're complaining about this and that, and you're sliding back into that place of believing that their unhappiness is your fault.

In a heartbeat or two, you're back where you started, feeling worthless, depressed, resentful, frustrated, and desperately lonely.

You're as miserable as you ever were, and once again, you're that poor little salmon, swimming upstream, fighting against the oppressive currents of negativity and control that are swallowing you whole.

The pattern continues. Every time you separate for a while, you feel better and are happier. But when you're with them, life is miserable and you don't feel good about yourself.

There are numerous reasons why we get into these situations or why we stay in them but I can at least tell you this: If you have several good relationships with people who appreciate you and enjoy your company, and with whom you get along well, but there is a certain person in whose company you are consistently unhappy, take a closer look.

We can learn a lot about ourselves from difficult relationships, and sometimes we can work within those relationships to make them better. When both parties recognise that there's a problem and want to fix it, that's a good starting point.

But when one of the people refuses to accept any responsibility and does nothing but point the finger of blame, and has made it clear that he or she has no intention of working at what's wrong, then it's probably time for you to end your association.

I'm all for trying to fix a problem in any kind of relationship. But there are times when we must recognise that it is beyond our control. Sometimes we have to see that being in the company of certain people is destructive, that it's toxic and will only adversely affect us.

When it is clear that this will be ongoing and the other people involved refuse to budge, then you must walk away, for your own health and your own happiness.

You can bet that those people have troubled relationships elsewhere, too, and that they blame other people for everything that's wrong in their lives. You can bet that they are not happy people in themselves, but this is their stuff to fix, not yours. You're not responsible for anyone else's happiness or loneliness or social life.

When you have ongoing problems with a certain person, but no amount of talking has helped and you just feel more and more unhappy or your self-esteem has plummeted, bear in mind that you've always got the best gauge for figuring out what to do. That gauge is your own feelings. Just look at how you feel when you're with that person, or involved with that person. And then notice how you feel when you have some breathing space and some distance. If you're consistently or frequently miserable in the company of that person, and happier on your own, that's all you need to know.

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Sometimes All You Can Do Is Nothing

Doesn't it just drive you mental when you're watching people make choices that you just know are going to have disastrous results? They might have asked your opinion and if you respect them, you'll have been honest with them (as tactfully as possible).

You might have offered your opinion without being asked (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your relationship) - and there's never a guarantee that it will have been heard, but that's not up to you. At least you tried.

Despite obvious negative consequences, some or all of which may even be acknowledged by these people, they continue on their destructive path, rushing headlong into some nightmare or other, ignoring the wisdom of anyone who might have had anything to say on the subject.

And there you are, standing on the sidelines, bound and gagged watching someone you love or care about, careening down a steep hill on a bicycle at an insane rate of speed, and you're just waiting for the splat!! when they hit the brick wall that's waiting at the bottom.

It's natural for us to want to fix things for the people who are important to us, to prevent them from being hurt or making mistakes and winding up in some kind of trouble.

But the truth is, experience is the best teacher. If people don't 'get it' from thinking about the consequences of their actions, the only way they'll figure it out is to go through it.

They'll have learned something about themselves (or will repeat the lesson at a later time...a bigger ouch each time, until they learn it), and they'll have learned something about you, too, that you do have a clue, that your judgement is sound - at least sometimes.

They'll have learned that perhaps it's wise to at least consider the opinions of others who have an interest in their wellbeing.

It's especially awful when it's your children who are making these frightening (for parents) choices and ending up suffering the consequences of their foolhardy actions.

But no matter who it is, we can only do our best to guide, suggest and direct. After that, all of us have the right to choose our own paths, no matter how difficult they might ultimately be.

It could be said that there are no mistakes in life, only opportunities to learn. And it's true that experience is the best teacher. I know it doesn't feel like that when we're helplessly watching loved ones heading for a crisis but sometimes, all we can do is be there to support and encourage while they pick up the pieces of their lives.

And thank heaven, we're there to do it.

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