Shame vs guilt is tricky. Some say the differences are obvious – that one is good and the other is bad. Many institutions, cults, organizations, parental figures from your childhood, teachers, coaches, friends, family, romantic partners, and even some religions use these two powerful emotions to your disadvantage without you even knowing it.

Once they can ignite guilt and shame within you, they then get to justifiably ask for the keys to the car of your life – after getting you to voluntarily admit that you are not qualified to drive (which you are ashamed about having to acknowledge and which absolves them of the empathetic guilt that they are incapable of feeling/acknowledging).

This is done in a short-cut attempt to sever the ties from the anchors of their own shame and guilt. It can also be done to affirm power. To them, the fact that you are now handing over your keys gives them immunity (even though it’s rooted in delusion).

That “immunity” cannot exist though, without emotional unavailability, narcissism, gaslighting, and in some cases, pathological lying and sociopathy.

There are so many things today that I feel ashamed of myself – for doing, for not doing, for feeling, for not letting go of, for saying, for not saying, for struggling with, etc. And the intertwined guilt that comes with each of these things made it hard for a really long time…

Until I was able to use these normal, human emotions of guilt, shame, and guilt vs shame to my dignified advantage.

Here’s what I know about shame vs guilt now that I’ve found my way out…

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When it comes to fake friends, we have all had them and we have all been one.

Even if you’ve been the best friend imaginable and have never been a fake friend to someone else… The fact that you have tolerated, excused, and have given second chances and credit that was never earned to a fools gold friend, means that YOU were a fake friend to both your gut/instinct and the one person who needed you the most: Yourself.

I have been an awful friend to myself and other people. When I think back to how terrible of a friend I was to certain people when I was younger, the guilt, shame, self-hate, and embarrassment is so bad, it would paralyze me if I had not built a life around those lessons learned.

What hurts even more, is that I was always a fake friend to the absolute best people.

I would give all my love, care, and attention to the people in my life who were just as toxic and just as fake of a friend to me as I was to these friends who were the most deserving. This negative feedback loop justified my narcissistic, hypocritical behavior and cemented my bad luck and self-sabotaging ways.

The ability to put up with fake friends is directly tied to your low self-esteem, non-existent confidence, and lack of boundaries. It’s all about how willing you are to continue being a fake friend to yourself.

We all carry shame from our mistakes in the past. We overly blame ourselves, personalize the behavior of others, and because of this, adopt negative beliefs about ourselves that prevent our innate ability to prevail. The lack of self-worth we feel makes us a sitting duck for emotionally cutting via putting up with fake friends.

You will never tolerate being treated any worse from others than you are already treating yourself. And remember…

Fake friends will always (directly and indirectly), make you feel (through their patterns, actions, inactions, and words) the exact.same.way that they feel about themselves – sh*tty.

We put up with fake friends for many reasons – because we have a history with them, we feel elevated by association with them, and we confuse being needed with being wanted.

The common denominators here are loneliness and thirst.

We are lonely and because of this, thirsty for the attention we avoid having to give ourselves. The self-reflection that it would require is just too painful.

So, we settle for the low-quality attention of fake friends.

Today, my life is much different than it was years ago…

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Today is a very special day because I get to introduce you all to one of my dearest friends, Irena. I met her years ago when I first started PMS and just like with Lorelle, was so taken back by her comments both to me and other readers. Over the years, we kept in touch, have traveled together, and have become very close friends (you will learn more about her in this post). A few weeks ago, I asked her if she would write a post on something that I myself was struggling with: selfish people. Irena, take it away my friend…

I really like to get to the bottom of things. My favorite game growing up was “library.” My second favorite game was “make unhappy people happy,” except I didn’t exactly call it that at the time. As it turns out, I never got to the bottom of how to do that, though I did find that unhappy people seemed to need me more than others. And as it will, my fixation on other people’s darkness, made me blind to my own. It also made me a nice, albeit pathetic snack for selfish people.

I wish I could say I grew out of this or that I got smarter about it, but I didn’t. In fact, I grew up to be quite the meal.

Yes, everyone acts in selfish ways and has selfish moments, but some types of chronically unhappy, toxic people exhibit a PATTERN of behavior that communicates to others that their ego and needs are more important than your anyone else’s. Like being hangry or having to pee on a road trip with no exit in sight, selfish people have one track, immediate, pressing needs, all the time. Trying to make a selfish person happy is like chaperoning a bus of fourth-graders on a never-ending road trip with no snacks and no destination. No offense to fourth graders.

I have found that most advice that I have ever encountered on “how to deal with selfish people” kept me on a hamster wheel of patiently trying to understand people, explaining my feelings, believing that one day unconditional love will magically ignite, and becoming a full-time empathy tutor for people who never asked to learn.

I’m not a saint though, and all this didn’t make me a better person. What it made me was a doormat that was so dirty, it would roll itself up and away at any suggestion of getting clean. In fact, the more I invested in a certain kind of selfish person, the more I tied my self worth to providing the BEST fuel to meet their needs. Worse yet, I started believing that with the best fuel, the most attention, and the most love, I could unselfish a selfish person.

A pattern of habitual selfishness is a very specific and insidious red flag. Toxic, narcissistic, and emotionally unavailable people become that much more detrimental when you get caught up in the MOMENTUM of their never-ending needs, instead of doing work on your own.

When I didn’t feel nourished and loved, I tried harder. And there was always a way to try harder.

Selfish people trigger you into believing your old stories: if you’re better, more understanding, smarter, if you say it in the right way, if you give it enough time, things will be better.

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I’ve written posts about how to cope with being heartbroken on Valentine’s Day. This year, I wanted to focus on self-love because it’s the one thing that I have struggled with the most in my life.

If you lack self-love, you will always feel this undercurrent of insecurity, anxiety, doom, a lack of control and no matter what… You will never feel like you’re able to call your own shots. Life just kind of happens to you as you watch everyone else make sh*t happen. This was an undercurrent that for a really long time, I felt like the only way to conquer was through superficial gains – following the follower, wearing clothes I couldn’t afford, dating powerful men, having celebrity friends, etc. Basically, anything I could piggyback on so that I could feel significant by association.

I ended up becoming a professional hype beast for the delusional band-aides I had put over the cancer that was my lack of self-love. Everyone had a cheerleader in me but me.

All I had was a box of what I convinced myself, were cancer-curing band-aides.

It doesn’t matter if you’re single, in a relationship, a friendship, an almost relationship or if you’re with your soul mate. If you lack self-love, you will always lack fulfillment because no matter how much you claim to want it, you will always have a hard time being attracted to what’s good for you instead of what triggers you.

And contrary to what we see at the movies, hear on the radio, and watch on tv… because no one can do these things for you or ever make you feel “special enough” to do these things for yourself, you will always be chasing your own emotional tail – entertained to an extent, but never fulfilled.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to attract true love. But you won’t be able to maintain it because you can never keep a fire burning that you can’t ignite within.

You’ll also lack the ability to do the one thing that separates the Emotional Jedi Masters from the Emotional Bed Sh*tters: Allow others to own their own behavior, decisions, lies, inconsistencies, and empathetic bankruptcyindependent of your value.

If you don’t believe that you have any value, you will always be so hungry for a buyer that you’ll become blind to the discount you consistently agree to.

Your gut will always know though. And it will eat away at the core of your being until you meet the universe halfway.

Decide to set your standard/price this Valentine’s Day and beyond. Stop asking f*cktard people to set it for you by deeming you “special enough” for them to transform into someone that they’re not even capable of being.

If you had 10 million in the bank, would you really care if someone didn’t believe you or didn’t “see it?” No.

Why?

Because you know what’s in your bank and that’s all that matters.

Know what’s in your relational bank. You’ve got zillions.

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