Monthly Archives: March 2015

10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives–book review

Click here to purchase Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

A lot of women make poor choices to keep a man around or to avoid being alone. (Been there, done that!) Being alone is scary, and when you don’t have a lot of money, it’s hard to make it on your own sometimes. A lot of women get trapped by these types of fears and waste their time in bad relationships. I bought this book when I was in an abusive marriage and I was trapped by these thoughts. I was scared to go out on my own, to live on my own, to be alone. I thought I couldn’t make enough money to pay my bills without a partner. I thought I’d be sad and lonely without someone to come home to. I thought being miserable was a less scary choice than being alone. WRONG! This no-nonsense book helped knock some sense in to me. Yes, it was still lonely and scary to leave and be by myself, but it got much easier. In fact, now I like being single.

The chapter titles in this book are:

1. Stupid Attachment
2. Stupid Courtship
3. Stupid Devotion
4. Stupid Passion
5. Stupid Cohabitation
6. Stupid Expectations
7. Stupid Conception
8. Stupid Subjugation
9. Stupid Helplessness
10. Stupid Forgiving

Dr. Laura gives sensible and practical advice explaining why we all of the above choices are not healthy for us, (or our children.) Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections of a couple paragraphs to a couple pages each, so it’s easy to read a little at a time without getting lost. Here are some of the main ideas: You don’t need a man to define you, you don’t have to lower your standards to keep one around, you should not let one back in your life after he abuses you, you should not let one hurt your kids or prevent you from being a good mother. The point is you can be strong on your own and keep your dignity instead of degrading yourself for a pseudo relationship. Dr. Laura encourages you to be strong and have good boundaries and self-respect…and hold out for good relationships. She also brings up important questions about why we would end up in bad relationships in the first place–what needs are we trying to fill? I think this is a good book for those of us who have settled for less than we wanted or deserved in the past!

Ecopsychology and enjoying green spaces for stress reduction

Green Spaces reduce stress levels

Green Spaces reduce stress levels

I was flipping through a magazine earlier and found a little blip about using the outdoors for stress reduction. In the Real Simple March 2015 issue, on page 146, they quote “a 2014 study published in Ecopsychology discovered that group walks in green spaces…lead to less stress and enhanced well-being.” I had read about the importance of greenery and outdoor time for mental health before, but this little blip inspired me to read more about ecopsychology.

I found this web article that gives more information on the field of ecopsychology as an alternative to traditional psychology. The article starts out explaining some of the history of ecopsychology and states that the field is turning towards standard psychological studies and research to learn about the benefits of spending time outside. They claim that “even subtle interactions with nature provide a range of cognitive benefits, including elevated mood, enhanced memory, and decreased stress.” Sounds good to me! Furthermore, they state that “research demonstrates that walking through the city can tax our attention, whereas a park restores our concentration and can even improve our performance on tests of memory.” Initially ecopsychology studies were not as strict as regular psychological studies, but they are using more and more standard scientific research. So far, studies show that green spaces improve moods and mental health, but they don’t 100% prove that manmade structures and technology are bad for our emotional health.

One recent study took a group of stressed people and had them look at either directly at a nature scene, a blank wall, or a television showing the nature scene in real time. The people who looked directly at the nature scene calmed down and relaxed more easily while the people who looked at the TV or the blank wall showed no difference. The TV wasn’t even more relaxing than staring at the wall even though it showed the same nature scene that the other group was watching in person!

The article goes on to share another study that showed people remembered information better when walking through nature instead of through a city. It describes the ways that the idea of ecopsychology is gaining more legitimacy by using stricter, more traditional scientific study. And it’s still showing the health benefits of getting out into nature. I thought that was exciting news! Now that spring is coming to my part of the world, I can’t wait to get out in the woods and de-stress! 🙂

Here are some more articles about the power of green spaces to help with stress reduction:

Green Spaces Reduce Stress Levels of the Unemployed
Living near trees, green spaces reduces stress, study showsGreen Spaces Reduce Stress Levels

How having meaning in your life is more important than happiness

I read an article in Reader’s Digest today about happiness and having meaning in your life. The title was “Happiness: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” Ouch! The moral of the article is that happiness is fleeting and there are other qualities in life that are more important in the long run. At first I was not completely convinced, but I did find some interesting information. After reading the short article, I agree that the writers do have some good points.

The article was based on a 1946 book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl who was a well-known psychiatrist. I just ordered a copy after reading the article, so I’ll report back on it! It sounded interesting.

Click here to purchase Man’s Search for Meaning

Frankl wrote the book about his experiences in a concentration camp after his pregnant wife and most of his family died, but he did not. He noticed some patterns in those who managed to live through the ordeal. To quote Reader’s Digest, “those who found meaning in even the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not.” For example, Frankl counseled two men out of committing suicide by helping them realize they still had purpose in life. He stated “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

As for happiness, RD refers to research that shows having a purpose in life increases well-being and satisfaction, and decreases depression, while chasing just happiness decreases one’s level of happiness! They theorize that simply looking for happiness leads to shallow feelings while pursuing meaning gives more lasting and deeper joy in the long run.

This could be because happiness is related on momentary feelings that will end, while finding and pursuing meaning in your life is a lasting goal. To quote, “people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rated their satisfaction with life higher–even when they were feeling bad–than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose.”

It seems that happiness comes and goes in bursts while meaning and purpose lead to ongoing, steady satisfaction. Something to think about!

How I’m learning how NOT to be a predator magnet!

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

So after I started recognizing all the qualities that were drawing abusive people, narcissists and con-artists towards me, I knew something needed to change! I was shy, a wallflower, non-assertive, lonely, and lacking self-esteem, but I think my two biggest issues were I had zero to no boundaries and I was kind of desperate. In fact, I didn’t start dating abusive men until my late 20’s. Before that, I’d dated all nice guys. What changed? I honestly think it was the biological clock issue. The guy I dated through most of my 20s was not the kind of person I wanted to marry. But, as I got closer to 30, I started panicking! Instead of waiting for a man who really fit my values and gave me time to get to know him, I fell for the charm and insistence of a man who turned out to be a narcissist. He wanted me to move in with him and get engaged pretty fast, and I went with it. I should have had some boundaries and given myself time to really know that person. I used to have a lot of strict dating rules, but I let go of them over the years. I have to admit, when I was more strict, (especially about sex early in the relationship,) I did not end up with jerks. Hmmm….

So this is where I need to learn about boundaries as well as learn to say “no” without guilt or explanation. How sad that it never occurred to me before that I could say “no” to people without feeling like I had done something wrong! I also realized it was okay to be a bit choosy. I don’t have to date whatever guy asks me out. I can say “no” and wait for someone who is a better match. (Duh!)

I started reading about boundaries, co-dependency, good relationships, self-esteem, success and more. Here are some of the things I learned could help me avoid being targeted by bullies and predators:

“No” is a complete sentence.

I don’t always have to defend myself or my choices. If you get caught up defending your valid life choices, the bully is going to back you in a corner demanding you explain yourself. Nope. I don’t need to explain a thing! Bullies want a reaction and they want you to keep talking. Sometimes, moving on without a word is the smartest response. Furthermore, engaging and defending yourself makes you seem weaker because you care too much about what others say rather than remaining confident in your own truth. The more you say, they more a bully can find to pick on.

I need to STOP telling people too much too soon. Bullies will take your insecurities and run with them! And the more you tell people, the more they have to work with when they want to mock, stalk or prey on you. People with poor boundaries violate their own privacy by giving away too much information which shows predators that they are easy targets.

I need to practice self-control. Instead of letting myself get caught up in romance, I need to limit myself and give myself time to think instead of rushing in. The romantic predator is hoping to overwhelm you and push you into a relationship to get you hooked before you know what is going on.

I need to beware of making hasty decisions–especially if someone is pushing me–and stop being afraid to ask questions.

I need to recognize my needs and desires and speak up for them. Predators want an easy target. If you start being a “pain” and asking for equal rights, they are probably going to move to someone less difficult to control. Plus, if I don’t know what I want, how am I going to meet the right people?

I need to stop being mousy and start being bold.

Those guidelines work with an emotional predator, but from a crime perspective, we are less likely to be targeted if we move with purpose and look around us to let the predators know we’ve seen them. This article has some really interesting information. For instance, studies show that the way we walk is hugely important to how predators choose us. It shows our confidence levels. To quote the article, “What distinguished the likely victims from the rest of the pedestrians was their posture, body language, pace, length of their stride, and overall awareness of their environment. Criminals judge a person’s level of self confidence by the style of their walk, such as a walk that lacks interactional synchrony, wholeness, organized movements, and a flowing motion. This signified to the perpetrators that the pedestrian lacks self confidence. On the other hand, those who walked fast and fluidly were less likely to be victimized.”

But this is the part that really surprised me: “Even though it is thought that women who dress provocatively are the most likely to be rape, studies show that women with passive, submissive personalities are more likely to get raped. These women tend to wear clothes that are concealing such as high neckline, long pants and long sleeves. This may sound ironic but, predatory men can identify submissive women by their style of dress.” Wow. If we dress like we are timid, even if we think we are covering up and protecting ourselves, it’s a signal to a rapist that we are actually more easy to prey upon!

I think all of these things come down to inner strength and confidence. If we have it, we project it. We trust ourselves, we value our own privacy and personal boundaries, we walk without fear, and we dress with confidence. Just small changes in the way we view our selves can show predators that maybe we aren’t such great targets after all.

I have been thinking a lot about how to protect myself emotionally, but the information about the importance of the way we walk has me thinking. Protecting yourself from predators isn’t just about setting guidelines in your mind. It’s about every part of you and the image you project physically and emotionally. Live like you matter. That’s something I never used to do.

Why do predators pick the people they pick? And why do they avoid other people?

Remember, the narcissist sees something of great value in you or they wouldn't be trying so hard to get it for themselves by smashing it out of you.

Remember, the narcissist sees something of great value in you or they wouldn’t be trying so hard to get it for themselves by smashing it out of you.

For most of my life, I have felt like a magnet for abusive people. I got taken advantage of more than I’d like. I was abused and neglected by my mom, abandoned by my dad, bullied by other students, mocked by my mother’s relatives. I got conned by a carpet cleaning company, charmed by a salesperson at a traveling renaissance show, cheated at a pawn shop, screwed over on a car repair. I married a narcissist, dated a con-artist, married a sociopath. I was sexually harassed by a “nice” old man who pretended to be my friend, actually…sexually harassed a lot from touching to lewd comments, stalked by a woman from a support forum, bullied by an aggressive co-worker, and more.

Every time, I said, okay, I must be weak. I am going to be stronger and smarter next time so I don’t get screwed again. And I’d go back to living only to have someone con me again or bully me when I tried to stand up for myself.

A few years ago, I posed the question in a group I was in: Why are some people prone to being victimized? One woman said she had never had been sexually harassed. Really? I have even had college professors say creepy things to me and ask how I am in the bedroom. Seriously. Some of my stronger female friends said that no man dared say things to them. But it happens to me a lot.

So, I decided to Google, how do bullies pick their victims? How do predators pick their prey? How do abusers pick their targets? Why are these jerks drawn to me?!

Here’s part of what I found:

They choose people with poor support systems–because there will be fewer people to help and advise the victim

For the same reason, they pick outsiders or people who are less popular–because there is less of a support system

They choose people with poor self-esteem, often people who have been abused before–because previous victims with low self-worth are more likely to think they “deserve” it

They choose people with poor boundaries–because people with poor boundaries are often afraid to say “no” or stand up for themselves

They choose people with passive body language–because they look submissive and non-confident in themselves and their surroundings. In fact, studies show that a known sociopath can pick out a previous victim from a crowd of people just based on body language.

They choose people who will react–when people react instead of ignoring, bullies get a rise out of their response

They choose people who speak out about injustices, broken laws or other bullying–because they don’t want to be called out

Bullies also aim for popular people who do well at their jobs or socially–because of jealousy

And bullies go for all ages! This page about toddlers shows some reasons that one kid will be bullied over another:

  • Anyone who’s different – whether that is their looks, weight, accent, clothing or interests. Disabilities make some children an easy target.
  • Those who are small or young – and not so able to defend themselves
  • Those who will react quickly – popular targets are children who get upset or cry easily
  • Kids who are not sporty or are poor performers at school
  • Anyone who is socially anxious or struggles with shyness

I was each and every one of those. Ouch! But I know it now. Yay! And that is a big part of why I started this site to document all the things I read and learn on my journey to escape being a target.

Now bullies are one thing, but physical predators are another. A predator with a mental illness knows who to go for. This article states, “Psychologists have known for years that human predators select their prey based on signals given off by their potential victims. In a matter of seconds, the predator acquires a sense of who is and isn’t a suitable target. For every victim that is attacked, many more are past [sic] over. What are the criteria that predators use to select their victims? I’ll tell you.” The same article goes on to explain the details of The Grayson/Stein study done with violent convicts. They showed the predators videos of people and asked who would make a good victim, and the predators independently picked the same people! The researchers concluded that the potential victims walked differently–as though they were less confident with themselves and less aware of their surroundings.

In romantic relationships, abusers look for all of the above listed qualities, but narcissists in particular also look for people they can leach off of. They want someone attractive, desirable…a prize to show off. They want someone loving and sweet that they can take advantage of. They want someone popular who can boost their own social standing. They want people who have good qualities that they don’t have.

Basically, bullies, predators, abusers and jerks are looking for someone who has what they want and someone who will be easy to overcome. Studies show that people who have been victimized once are more likely to be victimized again. Once you’ve been abused, you gain traits and qualities that you might not be aware of…but the predator is!

Look at these crime statistics:

“One of the best predictors of future victimization is past victimization.”

4% of victims endure 44% of crimes

Compared to women with no history of assault, odds of a new assault double for a woman who has been assaulted once, quadrupled after two assaults and were TEN times more likely after 3 or more previous attacks. Statistics are even worse for people who were sexually abused–especially as children.

So if you feel like you are being victimized again and again, you probably are. You might have the body language or personality traits predators are drawn to. You might seem vulnerable without a support system. Normal people wouldn’t seek you out, but predators are far more aware of you than you are of them.

Next up…learning how NOT to be the target anymore!

The health benefits of friendship

Since I posted yesterday about the importance of strong relationships for a long life span, I thought this post from would tie in nicely!

They have a pretty long article to go with the photos and charts, so I’ll just share the parts that stood out to me:

A gathering of 148 research studies found that people with strong friendships had better survival rates than those with weak relationships–50% better!

There are two main theories about why friendships help: 1. You have help and support with stressful situations and 2. when you are part of a crowd, you might be more likely to follow the group in taking care of yourself

People with quality friendships have better health–specifically heart health, while those with little support are more likely to have health problems.

The article points out that quality matters. Having a bunch of superficial fake friends is not as helpful as having true, close friends.

I’ll let the photos show you the rest!


The importance of a good support system for your mental health

Click here to purchase Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t
I am currently reading this book, and while I haven’t finished yet, (and I still want to review the book when I get done,) I specifically wanted to share an interesting section I read last night. In chapter five, the authors discuss the relation between certain medical issues that often relate to stress in one’s life. This includes: chronic headaches, stomach problems, poor immunity and weight issues. I am familiar with a lot of information and studies related to this issue, but the authors shared an fascinating example that stood out to me.

There is a town in Pennsylvania called Roseto that was known for people having especially high life expectancy for many years. Research showed that they ate and exercised like the rest of the United States, but the reason for their long lives was their strong relationships. The town was originally built by immigrants who were very close-knit and interconnected. According to the book, “friendships lasted through generations” because the families were so close and their connections and loyalty were so strong. Very impressive!

The town was re-studied in the 1990s, and things had changed. The close relationships had drifted apart as new people moved in and old families moved away. Neighbors didn’t all know each other like they had in the past. Now their life expectancies are no different from the rest of the country.

I think this is an excellent example of how important a good support system and connections with positive people are. We need loving, caring, listening people in our lives to help us cope and thrive with others around us. This inspires me to get out and work on my good friendships!

Here are some more research articles about Roseto:
This article shows that heart attack rates were low, but then rose as relationships fell apart. It compares Roseto with another town called Bangor.

Here is an outline tracing Roseto’s history for a college class.

This article includes other studies that show that people who are alone tend to have shorter life spans.

You as YOU make you–the Kardashians and the power of transformation

You as you make you

You as you make you

Like many of us, I know much more about the Kardashians than I would like to know. I see posts about them in my Facebook newsfeed, and they look so outrageous, I end up looking at the articles. What strikes me most, is they must have to wear huge amounts of make-up and spend huge amounts of time to look like the characters they play. Personally, I’d rather be doing more interesting things, but what I find intriguing is that they completely transform themselves into different people in order to play a part and create income. They prove that you can be as YOU make you.

Kylie Jenner before and after from

Kylie Jenner before and after from

In older photos, they look like typical teenaged girls, but in recent photos, even the “baby” of the family is different. Yes, a lot of this is due to plastic surgery, butt injections, lip injections, and who knows what else, but some of it is just careful make-up and strategic eyebrow waxing. I write a lot about transforming one’s attitude and mind, but what about your body? It’s how actual stars and faux stars make a living. Arched eyebrows, plumped lips, contoured cheek bones, glossy hair extensions, long false eye-lashes…. and several hours later, a Kardashian goes from typical female to cartoon character.

Kim Kardashian before and after from

Kim Kardashian before and after from

I’m no fan, but I do realize that this family of women, who haven’t actually done any form of work, have created a multi-million dollar empire simply by transforming and selling themselves. What does that say for us? It says we all have the capability of doing the same. These women are just as naturally pretty as the rest of us. In older photos, you can see that none of them were glamorous. Cute or pretty, yes, but not bombshells. And I’ll bet now, underneath the make-up/masks, they look very different. They are a public example that, if we wanted to transform our bodies and create new selves, it wouldn’t be out of reach. Yes the procedures would be pricey, but just the make-up and working out can go a long way.

Marilyn Monroe before and after from

Marilyn Monroe before and after from

Look at other transformed women like Norma Jean…I mean Marilyn Monroe. She went from normal girl to bombshell–just by remaking herself and creating an image. She just made herself into this new, bigger-than-life creature that was so different from her original self. You can look at old photos of many actresses and see how very typical they looked before they physically made themselves into the women they wanted to be. Many success authors speak of creating an image for yourself–a brand that you can sell–and these women take it to the extreme. But, they also demonstrate the selling power of transformation and creating an image. It’s something to think of. Perhaps there is something you can learn from the Kardashians 😉

Reputations and learning from people with good, (or bad,) reputations

So I’m reading this book again:
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I am still not a millionaire! But, I keep the book by my bed and I read through a little bit every few nights. Last night, I found a tip that really resonated with me. Number 102 says “If you want to see how powerful a reputation is, write down the reputations of several people you know personally. It will become clear why people either are attracted to them or avoid them.”

This is part of the chapter about building and protecting your reputation because it is the most important part of your career or business. I thought I’d like to take this one step further. I want to make a list of what is good and bad about those people’s or companies’ reputations, and learn lessons from them. Why is one person well-liked and another despised? Why is one person successful while the other one is stuck in a dead-end job. I know from experience that working hard is not necessarily the key to being promoted. There is more to it and I want to do what the successful people are doing and learn from them!

Yes, I love Amazon….Another perk!

I know. I talk about how great Amazon is all the time. But I love it! I’m a Prime member, so I get free two-day shipping on all Prime-eligible items–which is pretty much all books, movies and music plus so many other things. I use their free app to download eBooks, I use their Amazon Mom and subscribe and save and more. But, there’s another perk I’m using these days…. Free digital credits! These credits are good towards movie, music and eBook downloads.

So how do you get them? Well, if you have Amazon Prime, you normally get free two-day shipping on Prime items. Every time you place an order and choose *not* to use your free two-day shipping, you get a $1 digital credit. Your shipping is still free, but you get that credit for not using the faster delivery. I order a lot of things on Amazon, so I love the free shipping option with my Prime account, but I don’t always need the items immediately. If I can wait, I take the credit. And I use it to buy more eBooks! (YAY!) I hate driving to the store, so I use Amazon for everything I can. Nearly everything is cheaper too, with the Subscribe and Save program. Diapers just show up at my door and I don’t have to lug them in and out of the car. I love that 🙂

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