Monthly Archives: May 2015

Feeling inspired to reach my life/career goals!

Dreaming big and living well! I’ve mentioned before that I follow a very helpful career website and page on Facebook. It’s called Classy Career Girl and I find it incredibly inspiring! As I’ve noted, not only do I have a history of attracting unpleasant dates thanks to being non-assertive, but I’ve also been a slacker about finding a good career path for myself. I have not been good about speaking up for myself or showing my bosses my true worth. I have been too shy to apply for BIG jobs and I have settled for jobs I know I can easily get. I get scared about finalizing plans or making decisions. I get nervous about committing to a goal because I feel like it means that I’m, (at least at that time,) closing the door on another career goal that interests me.

As part of my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I’m improving my life all over. So, even though “meeting” strangers and talking on the phone leaves me anxious, I decided to take advantage of the complimentary coaching phone call Classy Career Girl’s Anna Runyan is offering. Just talking about my plans and my dreams for my business ideas got me really excited, and after my call with her, I’ve been working for hours on my ideas. I plan to sign up for her coaching course because I think it would be a great resource to push me towards my goals before I wimp out!

I have a long list of ideas I want to work on, but I almost fear starting them as though maybe I won’t be good enough, or maybe I’ll fail. That’s just silly. If even half of the ideas on my list did what I hoped, I’d be so delighted and successful. So many famous entrepreneurs will tell you that they failed many times before they hit the right idea. So tonight, I started taking charge of that list. For the past few months, I’ve planned to do many of the things on it, but I’ve been a bit leisurely about it. Tonight, that stops. I am going to take these ideas seriously and see what happens!

I’m sure these types of choices come naturally to many women, but they are learning steps for me. I truly believe that very good things are coming my way, and that I am going to make it happen. I’ve felt helpless for years–like a victim of my circumstances and a victim of the unstable behavior of first two addict parents, then later an abusive ex-spouse. When someone is acting crazy in your life, and you are powerless to “fix” them, you often feel like you cannot control what happens to you. Well, it is true that I can’t stop people from acting crazy and I can’t make them act responsibly, but I can proactively take control of my own life.

Trusting people for the wrong reasons leads to disappointment

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

I realized something interesting today and something that should help me avoid being disappointed in the future. Many of us trust certain groups of people simply because of what we expect from them instead of what we know them to be. For example, we naturally trust that teachers, pastors, mothers, therapists, nurses, and others like that are going to be good, safe people that we can trust. And quite often they are, but sometimes they are not. In fact, sometimes terrible predators will join those groups or careers specifically to get access to people who will blindly trust them. Those people are very dangerous!

In my life, I was raised in a so-called Christian home. It was pretty abusive, but I was still raised to believe that “Christian” was synonymous with good. I attended church from time to time and I went to Christian schools for a while. I did indeed meet some good people–including a friend I’ve had for over 25 years! But, I also met a lot of jerks and snobs and bullies–including my abusive mother who would threaten to kill me and beat me, but looked so wonderful teaching Sunday School at church. I should know darn well that not all Christians are good people, but I still have this naive hope in my mind that they are safe. I want them to be. I want to feel like I can turn to people. Much in the same way, I wanted to believe my mother could be a loving mother despite all proof that she wasn’t.

Sometimes we get so caught up believing what we want to be true, that we miss the reality that it isn’t true at all. And so, for years, when I have needed support in my life, I have turned to Christians or Christian support groups. I have been sorely disappointed every single time. I keep finding people with no empathy, people who are self-righteous and people who are judgmental. Why do I keep trying? Because I have this idea/hope in my head that a Christian group should be a place of safety. And that naive belief misleads me.

Now some of the best friends I have are Christians, and they are the type I expect to find, but some of the nastiest people I’ve met are also self-proclaimed Christians. I don’t blame the religion or God. I blame the meanies who join the religion! But I need to learn the lesson that even disappointingly cruel people can end up in positions of people we/I have assumed are trustworthy. Since I have a history of being a doormat, I need to remember that just because someone carries a label that I trust doesn’t mean that person is trustworthy. Today I had a good reminder that I still need to watch and wait to really know what kind of person I’m dealing with, because actions speak louder than words.

Longing for other people’s blessings instead of your own

Comparisons can be hurtful and toxic. We are all different people on different paths with different experiences. Don't expect your way to match someone else'sI’ve been thinking a lot about being grateful for what I have, and looking for what I can achieve rather than feeling bad because someone else has more…or seems to have more. Yesterday, I wrote about how unhealthy it is to compare ourselves to others, and a while back, I blogged about learning not to feel like a loser compared to my old classmates who seem to have so much more. It may look like others are doing much better than we are, but it’s not always true. Tonight, I realized just how real life can be.

I often feel sad, and maybe a bit jealous when I see happy, loving couples with extended families and a great support system. I feel sad that I don’t have a caring spouse to help me and to be there for my kids. I feel sad that my parents are toxic and incapable of love. I see these “normal” families and homes where the husband isn’t throwing the wife around and the parents aren’t threatening/trying to kill the kids, and I feel the hurt of never having had a loving, healthy family. It’s not fair! I know that I married an abuser because of the way I was raised–because I didn’t know any better and never learned to expect anything better–so I feel cheated.

Tonight, I was Facebook surfing and looking at profiles of people I used to know. I found one person I had known very casually, and her page caught my attention. Why? Because the family was beautiful. The home was gorgeous. The vacation photos were stunning. The love was apparent. The kids were smiling, the husband and wife were looking at each other with love, the captions were happy. I got a bit of that jealous feeling again. I have struggled so hard to be a loving, good person and find the love I never had in childhood. I want a family. When is it going to be my turn to find a spouse who doesn’t abuse me and can respect me? When will my kids get to have a father? When do I get the cozy home?

But I looked further. I turned cold and I found myself crying. Why? Because that love-filled happy family with the nice home lost a smiling child to a tragic accident. Their happy beloved toddler was grinning one minute…and dead the next. I think I would literally die if that happened to my child. How could anyone go on? Then I realized that, even though that family was very blessed in many areas, they had faced more tragedy as well. They needed all that love and support to get through the worst thing that can happen to a parent. How can I feel jealous of their family support system when they are leaning on it to survive something so bad?

Instead of feeling sad for all the things I don’t have, I want to feel grateful for all the things I have.

Comparing yourself or other people to others can be hurtful

Comparisons can be hurtful and toxic. We are all different people on different paths with different experiences. Don't expect your way to match someone else's The other day, one of Dr. Phil’s guests was a mother of three, (with one child at home and two in school,) who was also running a family business from home. Her problem was that she was completely exhausted and overworked, hadn’t had a break in years, and didn’t have enough time to take care of herself well. Oh boy, I can relate! I’m a single mother of two toddlers. When I had a full-time job, I was working 50-80 hours a week, and I was always exhausted. Between work and commuting, there wasn’t much time during the week. I took my kids home, fed them and put them in bed. I tried to keep up with housework, then start the next day with less than enough sleep. It was rough! Then I lost my job and became a stay-at-home mother. That is even more exhausting! I am older than the average first-time mom, and I feel it. I can’t even imagine how the mother on Dr. Phil was taking care of her toddler AND running a business at the same time. At least when I worked, my kids were in daycare and I was focused on my job. Can you imagine trying to do your professional desk job while jumping up every couple minutes to feed, clean, change, chase your active toddler? So I read that woman’s story and I was nodding. Oh yes, I want a nap sooooo bad.

Here’s the problem: On Dr. Phil’s Facebook page, the majority of the comments about the woman were shaming her for wanting a break, and most people were comparing themselves to her with her being the loser. Dozens of women were claiming that they could do all of that, and more, while looking great, working out, volunteering, and more…and they STILL had tons of energy. It was like a competition with lots of exaggeration and no empathy. Guess what?! Motherhood isn’t a competition. All those superwomen who were comparing that woman to themselves and calling her lazy, and worse weren’t doing anyone a favor. (Plus, I’m guessing most of them have some big problems that they aren’t sharing 😉 )

Who knows what that woman’s story is? She’s doing two full-time jobs–mothering and running a business at the exact same time. We don’t know anything else about her energy, her health, her family dynamics, her temperament, her spouse, her support system, or any of that. And it’s none of our business. Her life is her life. Those other women’s lives are their lives. To make comparisons and act like everyone is exactly the same, and should be doing the exact same things is toxic. It drags people down, and it ignores our individual personalities and strengths.

To compare ourselves to others is just as pointless. Did we all have the same childhood? The same experiences? The same opportunities? Talents? Luck? No! So we shouldn’t expect the same outcomes, and make ourselves feel bad because we aren’t doing what someone else is doing. Nor should we be shaming others who aren’t doing what we are doing. I wrote a while back about my feelings of being a bit of a loser since many of my peers are doing “better” in life than I am. I could compare myself to my former classmates all day, and I’d just feel like crap. Or, I can look at reality–we are just different and different is not bad. It’s just…different. I can keep my eyes off someone else’s path and just work on mine, and find joy in MY life instead of feeling bad about not matching someone else’s.

When we start comparing people’s lives, there isn’t a whole lot of good that’s going to come out of it, because someone is usually going to be on the “bad” side. And when we are comparing ourselves to others…it’s usually going to be us. Have you ever gone through a day feeling worse and worse about yourself as you focus on what someone else did that you didn’t? Or something another person has that you can’t afford? That person has a nicer house, that person has a good-looking spouse, a better job, a more impressive degree, nicer hair, a better figure, more friends…. If you keep going, you can really destroy your mood, and honestly, what’s the point of doing that? Will it get you the things you want? Nope. The things we tell ourselves matter and have a strong effect on our emotions and our energy. Wouldn’t it be much better to forget comparisons and just focus on where you are going? I think so! I’m done comparing myself with others, and if I find myself starting to do it, I’m going to redirect my thoughts to what *I* am doing to reach my own goals!

Learning to look out for myself

Life doesn't happen to me. I make life happen. I'm learning to look out for myself at lifeasyoumakeit.com When I first started writing this blog, I decided I was going to review the self-help books that were helping me. I realized that I was too passive, too fearful, lacked boundaries and just wasn’t getting as much out of life as I should. So, I started reading and learning about a whole bunch of topics that were helping me become the person I wanted to be–happy, fulfilled, successful, productive and a good mom. I picked the title “Life As You Make It,” because I wanted to focus on how we can all MAKE our lives the way WE want them to be instead of just letting life happen to us, because, as I go through life, I’m realizing how true that is, and how many opportunities I’ve missed by being passive.

I have learned so much, not just from reading the books, but by processing my thoughts, considering my life patterns and writing about what I learn. It’s therapeutic, it opens my mind to change, and it makes me feel like I’m really finding my path in life.

The old me was afraid to speak up about my wants and needs, but the new me looks out for myself.I came at this blog as a survivor of a bad childhood and an incredibly abusive relationship. My mousy ways made me a magnet for predatory people. But, they also kept me from meeting good healthy people, finding and advancing in the right career, and looking out for my own best interests in every day life. I don’t mean looking out for myself in a selfish way, but in an assertive way, where I speak up for my rights and voice my needs and wants. The very qualities that were attracting abusers were also keeping me from being fulfilled.

I’ve just been writing about things that inspire me, good books I read, chapters that are exciting, research that makes me think and tips that help me. There isn’t one single topic because it’s about getting the best from life in all areas that matter to me. And I’ve finally realized what I am doing:

I am learning to look out for myself!

 Through life, I have not done a good job of looking out for myself or standing up for myself. I didn’t know the life skills that come naturally to some people. I’ve just drifted around settling for relationships or jobs that didn’t make me feel good and didn’t make my life better. I was not looking out for myself at all! I would be extra considerate of others, but never myself. That is now changing!

I don’t want to be vulnerable to predators anymore.

I don’t want to be the woman who is looked over for promotions anymore.

I don’t want to be the person who is afraid to speak up anymore.

I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on the good stuff anymore.

And I am ready to take charge and re-invent my life the way I want it to be!

I am excited about learning from others, learning from my own mistakes, and sharing my journey with others. It’s a great feeling to know that I am in charge of my life and to know that, even when bad things happen to me, I am gaining the knowledge to bounce back and take care of myself better than ever before. Especially for other abuse survivors, I want you to know, it does get better. I didn’t enjoy the trials I experienced, but I realize now that they happened to give me the epiphany I needed to snap out of my passive lifestyle, and change my life for the better. I am a doormat no more, and I want others to know that you can recover and thrive. It all starts with the decision to learn.

Do you really know yourself? The power of being self-aware

I wonder how well we know ourselves? Do we really think about what we are good at, what we believe and how we feel? Or do we go along with what others tell us and not really think much. When I was a kid, I thought I didn’t like math or science. I never really thought about it, but I just “knew” in my mind that I didn’t like those classes. Then, when I was in 8th grade, a math teacher pointed out that I had the highest grade in her class, and told me I seemed like I was gifted. I was surprised. I had no idea I might be good at math. But, then I started thinking about it and realized I really was good at it and…I enjoyed it. I later began realizing the same thing with my science classes. I had just gone along with some stereotype that I didn’t like them, but in reality, I thought they were really interesting. That math teacher, whose name was Mrs. Wilson, really changed my thinking about myself.

Over the years, people have complimented me on parts of my personality that really surprised me. I’ve been told that I’m very strong and that I’m a good leader. I had never, ever considered that about myself. I thought I was a shy, wallflower wimp! But, when someone pointed out the reality to me, I started thinking about it and realized that I was better at some things than I’d known. And that really opens up doors for me, in addition to increasing my confidence to try new things. It reminds me of the time I thought I was a terrible public speaker, then gave a great presentation and uncovered a new talent.

If we really get to thinking about our true selves, would we find that we have talents we’ve been discounting? Types of intelligence we have never thought about? Are we feeling unfulfilled in some areas of our lives because we are trying to fit into the wrong places just because we are doing what we automatically think we should do?

Relationship experts say that self-awareness is a major key to happiness. And this includes, not just knowing your true self, but also recognizing your effect on others. Leadership experts say that all leaders need to be self-aware for success, as well. The writer of the leadership article states, “…the most effective executives I knew had, I believe, realistic assessments of their own abilities – their strengths and weaknesses, their effect on others, the gaps that needed to be filled.”

I think this is right on. How can we maximize our best qualities and take advantage of them if we haven’t even recognized them yet? Or how can we work on our bad habits that turn people off if we aren’t paying attention? Success isn’t based in intelligence alone, or even education, but it is based on our personalities and our personal qualities in many ways. Emotional intelligence–including self-awareness is essential!

One way to start becoming aware of your strong points and your weak points, is to consider Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He theorized that there are seven types of intelligence, and everyone has different strengths. We need to discover our own strong areas and consider the meaning of our weak areas. When I took a quiz to see what types of intelligence I had, I was a bit surprised by my highest score. Again, I learned there are parts of my personality that I haven’t been recognizing.

As I continue on my journey to expand my life, grow my career and find peace with my relationships, I find that self-reflection and being open to learning from others is life-changing. I really like the idea of becoming more self-aware to improve my life and my connections with the world!

The importance of a mentor and networking for helping you in your career


Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of having a mentor or a life coach, as well as a good network to help you get on a good career path. It’s something I’ve never though of before, because I thought I could just work really hard and be independent to get ahead. I’m quickly learning that it’s not so easy, and that the viewpoints and help from others can really help launch us into the right direction.

I bought this book Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out a while back because the story sounded really impressive! The author claims that he was a millionaire before he turned 14, and he has a long list of major companies and networks that recommend his books and commend his achievements. Wow! Now that is someone I can learn from, right? After doing some internet searches, I’m learning that his background story might be a little shaky, so I’m reading the book with a critical eye; however, even if the stories are exaggerated, there are some good tips that I have heard from other recognized professionals and career coaches. Judging by his Facebook followers and book sales, he’s doing something right!

One of the book’s chapters is specifically about building a mentoring team, and a later  chapter is about networking, which is another career idea I’m reading a lot about lately. One of my favorite career advice sites Classy Career Girl promotes the same ideas and that writer’s background is really impressive as well, (and verified.) I hope to take one of her coaching courses one day, because she really knows what she is doing. She emphasizes the power of networking, and Gray in particular writes about his mentor who helped him get started and pointed him in the wrong direction. When Gray was a kid, he used to call his mentor for help and advice–and that advice helped make him rich without taking anything other than time from a mentor who was happy to help him. So between these two writers, as well as other sources, I’m really starting to see how important mentors and networking are–far more helpful than just throwing out resumes and trying to do everything alone.

Some ideas I’m learning that never crossed my shy, independent mind before:

It’s okay to reach out and ask for advice or help.

It’s good to reach out and find others who can work with you towards inter-working goals.

It’s smart to watch what your career idols do and learn from them.

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

So much of moving ahead in your career and your life is about learning from others, working with others, and helping others. But, it’s important to get out there and learn from the right people who are connected where you want to be connected. If I want to be a movie star, then networking with UPS drivers, or seeking advice from a math teacher might not help so much.

So, I’ve been trying this with others who are working in areas to where I want to work. I started reaching out to people that I admire, and sincerely letting them know how helpful they were, and what I appreciated about their work. I let one person know that I enjoyed her insight, and asked a couple others to help share the word about the home business I’m trying to get off the ground. It worked! I saw a HUGE difference in my business views and revenue. And it was all sincere. I didn’t go looking for someone to help me. I reached out to others whose ideas I was already a fan of. I basically opened my mouth to express my positive thoughts instead of keeping them to myself. What a learning experience! Plus, I feel good, as though I’m part of a community.

Since I’m naturally shy and introverted, asking for help and turning to others is foreign to me, but I’m really seeing and believing how important it is. There are paths to success out there, and it’s so important to be open-mined to learning from others who went before us or are going the same way now.

Considering the power of your words to make or break you

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Usually, I wait to finish a book before I review it, but some books have single chapters or sections that just really stand out. I’m about half way through this book and I am very glad I bought it. I’ve blogged a few times about the power of our words to raise or lower or moods, but this book goes beyond that. It is a really in depth analysis of a variety of ways that words–written, spoken or thought–effect our lives–our reputations, our treatment of others, our moods, our futures, and more. Just the first chapter had me underlining a ton of wise points!

The first chapter is an overview of what is coming in the rest of the book, and is titled “The Impact of Words.” One example is a lady who is kind and thoughtful with the “amazing ability to help people feel good about themselves.” Unfortunately, she slips up with her words one day and criticizes her boss publicly, which destroys her career growth. I don’t know how true this story is, but it really got me to thinking. One, the thought of a person who can find the positive and help people feel good is a very good thought! I’d rather be that person than a grump. Two, how true that one poorly thought-out conversation or even one misunderstanding can throw us off track. The example really emphasizes the importance of thinking before speaking, (something I am not too good at doing!) I know, that is a lesson we’ve probably all heard, but I wonder how many of us can truly, truly embrace it to consider how important our words are? The book got me thinking immediately…and made me think about what I want to improve in my own life.

Now a warning…this author is a Christian, and the importance of Godly speech is a recurring theme in this book. I personally do not find it annoying because she works it in so well and there is genuine wisdom in between the Bible verses. She isn’t using the verses to force her ideas; she is giving really good advice and then adding the verses. The things she has to say can be appreciated even if you aren’t religious, but I want to give that notice for people who may not enjoy religious books. I feel like she uses the Bible in a way that is not overpowering, in my opinion.

Another good bit of advice right near the beginning: Meyers talks about a problem in her life that she kept getting stuck on. She’d talk about it and it consumed her thoughts, then she realized that “if I wanted to get over it, I was going to have to stop mentally and verbally going over it again and again.” More good advice! I can’t count how many times I have made myself miserable by dwelling on things I can’t change. It’s pointless. As she says, “where the mind goes, the man follows.”

Another good quote is “We all have challenges in life, but we can make them better or worse by the way we talk about them.” So true! She continues that “speaking negatively could hurt you, but speaking positively never will, so why not go with the positive and see what kind of results you get?” Good point! And I’m even skipping a bunch of underlined quotes because there are so many in the first chapter alone!

I read a lot of books and learn so many good things, but this one honestly has me excited and I’ve been telling friends to read it. It is filled with good ideas and wise advice for being more productive, more positive, happier, more successful and more of a help to others instead of a drag. Plus, this book is almost 300 pages, and so far, none of them are wasted. I look forward to reading more of her books if they are beneficial as this one.

Success in business or relationships isn’t just about hard work or skills

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I’ve blogged before about learning to promote myself to get better jobs, because working really hard but being invisible was not helping me succeed. It’s an important lesson to learn! And it’s reality…often the best workers are not the ones who move up the corporate ladder because our charisma, self-promotion and connections matter more than just working quietly.

I keep this book by my bed and read a few pages every once in a while. There’s a lot of good information, so I try not to overwhelm myself by reading it all at once. I want to really think about the ideas and focus on the ones that speak to me. The book basically has 365 short paragraphs with tips on how to improve your chances of getting rich in business–and a lot of them are more about your personal qualities.

Tip number 233 stood out to me today. It says:

In a personal service business, our fees will usually rise in accordance with your self-esteem and not necessarily in accordance with your level of skill or results.

I know this is true, because I’ve lived it! We have to sell ourselves in business or careers to get people to believe in us. How can they have faith in our abilities if we don’t have faith in them ourselves? And how can they notice us if we don’t show off a little? I wrote in that previous blog about how I tried that, and got noticed by my department’s director. It worked and it was surprisingly easy!

But I also want to think about this in terms of relationships–not just with bosses or clients, but with others. For those of us looking to date, do men really want a woman who puts herself down and minimizes her good points? Or do they want a woman who isn’t afraid to shine? I’m not talking about bragging, but about being confident. How many of us single ladies have wonderful, loving qualities to share, but keep missing out on good relationships because no one knows what we have to offer? Or how about friendships? If we hide our strengths and put ourselves down, are we going to find good, healthy friends? Or within our families…do our relatives respect us less than they do our cousins because we don’t love ourselves? This book may relate to the business world, but I consistently find that the tips relate to living a fuller, happier life in general.

All of the parts of our lives work together to create a whole person–a person who is fulfilled and confident…but always learning how to improve. That’s what Life as You Make It is about–reaching our potential and our best lives!

Why men treat some women differently than others

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

Value yourself. You show others how to treat you.

I’ve blogged about some of these things before, but a conversation I had with a friend the other day got me thinking some more. My friend mentioned that a man she knows, that she thought she was just friends with, started asking her very personal sexual questions and making sexually harassing comments to her. When she confided in another woman he knew, that other woman found it hard to believe because he had never treated her that way. My friend is not an especially flirty person, and is definitely not the type to lead people on, but she has been treated like a doormat pretty regularly because she is nicer to people than they are to her. So I got to thinking…why did that man treat my friend so disrespectfully while he is always respectful with the other woman they both know?

I have had similar problems in my life. Once when I was pregnant, a much older man who had children my age, told me that he wanted to make love to a pregnant woman his daughter’s age, and continued making gross comments to me. I did not initiate that type of conversation, but for some reason, he thought it was okay to turn the casual conversation that way and say creepy things to me. He would never dream of treating many other women that way. I did not want or deserve his nasty comments. I was appalled.

I’ve asked over time why this has happened to me, and why it has happened to my friend who is also very “mousy” like I have been. Part of it is, predators know how to target specific people who have been victimized before, and part of it is because people learn how to treat us the way we treat ourselves, but there’s more to it. I did not treat myself like a woman who wants to be sexually harassed, and neither did my friend, that’s for sure! But, these creepers saw in us women with poor boundaries, women who seemed unsure about themselves, women who were not very assertive and women who wouldn’t stand up to them. We were easy targets for cowards who wouldn’t dare say the same things to strong, loud women.

When I told one of my other friends about the older man’s yucky comments to me, she noted that men do not speak to her that way. And it’s not because I’m any prettier or younger; it’s because her body language and her personality show that she is NOT going to put up with hearing that crap! So much of this is related to boundaries. A woman with strong boundaries doesn’t let people blur the lines or test and push at the boundaries. She says “NO!” when the creeper even tries to be inappropriate. Me? (And my friend.) We are both very polite and try to joke or squirm our ways out of uncomfortable conversations.

Let me say now, that it is okay to put a stop to those conversations and be “rude” to someone who is sexually harassing us!

These skills aren’t based on being shy or outgoing, introverted or extroverted, or anything else. We can learn and enforce good boundaries no matter what our personality types…and that is what I am doing!

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