Compassion is a beautiful word. It is a form of love. Love in action.

It is our ability to show love through caring, supporting, and being there for others, especially when they are in a tough place. It is kindness, in all its glory.

Compassion is reaching out to those who need love. Who are in pain. Who are suffering. Who are feeling alone. It is giving friendship and concern – wrapped up in gentleness. It is offering empathy and giving a voice to those who cannot express their grief. Compassion is soft, considerate, tender and radiates warmth.

I am going to begin by asking you, do you think you are able to look at yourself through compassionate eyes?

Are you able to treat yourself with compassion when life gets hard – when you are alone and struggling?

These are rhetorical questions because you only need to share the answer with yourself. But these are important questions, because many of us are much better at offering and giving compassion to others, and not so much for ourselves.

Compassion is also a form of self-love. I have decided that some of the most beautiful souls who walk the earth, often struggle with self-love, because they have (wrongly) learned their “value” from others.

The truth is – we are full of love. It enables us to give, and we are also meant to receive it. Compassion – the outward giving of love and kindness when someone is in a dark space, is truly a beautiful thing.

If you struggle with showing compassion towards yourself.

If you have a huge capacity to be there for others and yet, in return, receive a lack of appreciation no matter how many times you have been there:

This post is for you.

 This is the day you are going to learn how to give yourself the compassion and support that you can so readily give to others.

There’s a list here, so print it out and stick it on your wall if this is something you need to practice.

Screenshot it and read it daily. And watch as your life slowly transforms.

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Knowing how to love yourself can feel impossible. Even more so when you hate the crumb-tolerant doormat you’ve become – to fake friends, selfish partners, your boss, toxic family members, and most tragically… the cynical audience in your own head.

When I was in sixth grade, I signed my own yearbook in four different types of handwriting. I wrote notes to myself saying how much fun and amazing I was. I even included inside jokes and went on about sleepovers and fun memories that never existed. These notes were supposed to be from my really good/cool friends that went to another school.

The most heartbreaking was writing a note where I pretended to be a popular boy who wanted to date me.

Why did I do this?

Because it was the only way I could emotionally survive the reality of absolutely no one wanting me.

At that young age, lies, and creativity were the only way I could cope with my shame. The anxiety I would get when I had to ask one of my classmates to sign a yearbook that was totally blank (except for a few signatures and notes from teachers) was too much. All I ever wanted was to be wanted, accepted, beautiful, impressive, and enough. Five things that I never fully felt at home.

This behavior continued in many different ways as I got older. And because deep down, I knew how fake I was, I lost all respect for myself (which eventually, led to self-hate).

As long as you lack self-respect, you will never have respect for anyone who genuinely respects you. No matter how much you claim to want and deserve it.

We like to think that a lack of self-respect can coexist with, and even be extinguished by, an abundance of true love but it can’t.

If you don’t respect yourself, getting genuine love from another person will never feel “right.” It won’t feel nearly as valuable as getting disrespectful attention from people who are just as incapable of genuinely loving themselves.

Knowing how to love yourself is not hard.

Self-love is nothing more than consistently having your own back because you regard yourself as a person of value.

It’s about gaining confidence from your ability to act on how worthwhile you know you are.

It’s about understanding that anyone who makes you feel worthless does so because they can’t tap into their own worth.

The hard part is not self-love. You came into this world loving yourself and thinking that you were more than enough. The hard part is having to cut through all of the hate that’s accumulated for an adult that you don’t like, love, or respect.

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Through the years, I’ve received many emails and messages asking me to write about trauma bonding and how to release a trauma bond.

This is NOT a subject that can be explained in a paragraph or two. Irena has been working hard on this post for weeks (I am so thankful for her and Lorelle taking care of PMS in between my posts for a few weeks while I work on my book). There is a lot of information out there on trauma bonds but I wanted to provide a one-stop post for you that makes sense of and gets to the root of it all – especially how to break free. I lived in that prison for many years and this post is everything I wish I had when I was in the grip of it.

Irena, take it away my friend…

You may feel pretty crazy over there in your trauma bonded trance for someone who mistreated you, but know there are people actually eating dirt out there and making more sense than some of the well-meaning advice I heard while I was getting over various forms of heartbreak.

We are told to stop fixating, face the fear of moving on, focus on yourself, and that time heals all wounds. When in fact, the symptoms of a traumatic reaction to a trauma bond make these very things feel nearly impossible.

What’s more, when taken in the context of trauma bonding, prolonged grief over the loss of a relationship is far from irrational, even when that relationship was a toxic one. If you feel more stunned and immobilized as time wears on, this is the reaction of your organism actually working to protect you from a perceived, ongoing threat.

You are not crazy. Your body’s physiological state is just trying to communicate with you in a way that you may not quite understand yet.

There are people all over the world who experience cravings for dirt or clay. This is called geophagy and clearly sounds so insane that people feel ashamed to admit their cravings.  Yet research has found that these cravings may indicate a lack in bodily mineral content or may function as the body’s protective response to pathogens in pregnant women or children. The content of dirt or clay may serve as a protective barrier in the stomach.

What may FEEL mentally and physiologically irrational, actually makes sense. This does not mean that anemic people should make themselves a nice dirt snack with their coffee this afternoon. It does mean that feeling estranged, ashamed, and ignoring the REALITY of the craving, without looking further into what it indicates, will never resolve their organism’s unmet need.

I only started to understand trauma bonding when I stopped feeling ashamed and started trusting my body’s own physiological messengers.

Breaking a trauma bond can feel agonizing. What’s the point of trying to accept the reality of a toxic relationship, go no contact, and try to move on with your life when you only feel worse as time wears on?

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Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship, breakups distort our vision. It’s not that we don’t know what to do after a breakup, it’s that we can’t see.

Think about it this way…

You know how to drive a car, right? Right. So let’s just say that you’ve been driving in desirable conditions for a while – great weather, no traffic, your favorite music on, and the love of your life by your side, operating the GPS, in the passenger seat. What could be better?

Then, one day out of the blue… he says that he’s feeling sick, is over the drive and wants to get out of the car. NOW. In shock, you watch him get out without any hesitation. And just like that, you’re on your own – with no working GPS and having lost all sense of direction.

You try to drive back home but aren’t sure where home is (or if you even have a home. HE was your home). As the reality of homelessness starts to sink in, what you could swear was perfect weather is now a snowstorm with fog so dense, you can’t see. What was zero traffic has now turned into a makeshift racetrack with cars swerving all around you amidst the snow. What was your favorite music is now nothing but the beat of your stressed and broken heart.

You’ve got no choice but to pull over. Scared out of your mind, you convince yourself that calling him is your only option.

He tells you that there’s no storm, no race cars and that you just don’t know how to drive. He asks you to stop “making up stories” just to get in touch and then “drives off” in a better car with a new girl who’s everything you’re not… while you’re still stuck… on the side of the road… in the snow. You feel so ashamed.

You don’t know what to do or where to go.

You are literally lost without him.

Did you call him because you don’t know how to drive a car? No. You called because you were lost, scared, triggered, and convinced yourself that you couldn’t tap into your own GPS (that you allowed him to operate for too long).

It’s not that you don’t know what to do after a breakup, it’s that you’ve lost access to your GPS and your vision is clouded by scary emotional conditions. These emotional conditions make acceptance, moving on, and being “the one that got away,” seem impossible.

It’s time to regain your 20/20 vision.

Here’s what you need to know + what to do after a breakup…

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