Learning how to speak confidently and effectively so you can be heard and understood.

Introvert paradise
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5 tips to start a conversation when you don’t know what to say

I’m an introvert.

And despite years of practice and working on my skills, I’m still completely awkward in social situations.

I’ve always been this way.

May always be.

I can only handle being around around people in small bursts. Not because I’m a jerk. I just get overwhelmed easily.

That said, there are a few tricks that work for me when I do want to talk to people.

Keep in mind, for the most part, other people want someone to come talk to them. You can tell when a person sincerely doesn’t want to have a conversation with you. You know, headphones on, face buried in a book or notebook, etc.

Remember, you don’t have to have the perfect sentence formulated to talk to someone or a group of people.

Here are 5 other things to keep in mind when you’re ready, willing and able to start a conversation.

#1 Start with an observation.

This one is geared towards talking to an individual more so than a group. If and when you notice something you like about a person, make a comment about it. Only do this if it’s sincere.

Don’t do this:

Do give genuine compliments. Most people love receiving them! This opens up the conversation and often leads to learning more about what the other person is interested in.

#2 If you notice an open group you’d like to join, wait for a break in the conversation and ask, “Mind if I join you?”

Make sure the group is open first. You can tell a group is open when the people are standing somewhat apart, members occasionally glance around the room, there are gaps in the conversation and members are talking about a general topic.

Once you’ve determined the group is open, wait for the break and ask the friendliest-looking member if you can join in. This will ensure your intentions are clear and you won’t have to interrupt and risk seeming rude.

#3 Know what’s most important to you before you decide to start or join a conversation with an individual or group.

What is your goal or objective in this situation? Do you want to just connect without any result in mind? Do you want to make a new friend?

When you become clear on your intention, you may find knowing what to say comes a lot easier and more naturally.

#4 Make peace with the worst that could happen.

Cope ahead by reminding yourself that even if this person or group of people flat out rejects you, you will remain in tact. It does not define you or your worth.

Decide ahead of time you won’t go into a story about how “no one likes you.” Remember not to mind read either. You have no idea why someone would reject you. It might have nothing to do with you. So, keep your head up. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future.

#5 Expect the best or something even better.

You won’t know how the conversation (or anything) will go until you try.

If this is brand new to you, yes, it’s going to be scary. Acknowledge your fear and remind yourself why you’re doing this. Maybe you’ve been wanting new friends or maybe you just want to feel more like you’re part of the world. Whatever your reason, this is a a skill and it takes practice and patience.

Let me know how it goes.

You’ve got this!

Redefining family
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[Day 20] Redefining Family

Redefining family

It’s Day 20 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Here are my two topic choices:

1) Family of Origin vs Family of Choice. How has this affected your life? Do you still speak to your family of origin, or do you just “put up with them” when you have to?” How does this fit on your Spiritual Path? Who do you consider to be your family?

OR

2) Forgiveness and Reconciliation. How has this affected your choices about the people you surround yourself with, especially your family of origin?

Redefining family

Sometimes I forget it’s possible to be in a healthy, happy and fulfilling family.

There’s this part of me that wants to fight it.

Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes for the sake of familiarity. And sometimes I’m so stressed out I simply forget.

“Family” when I was growing up, meant constant screaming battles, fighting over who was right, possessiveness, control, manipulation, fear, blame, shame and judgment.

I literally cannot recall one moment of peace from my entire childhood. I was frozen in fear. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t screw up or displease anyone. Everyone’s happiness depended on it. On me.

So I suppressed my emotions, my thoughts, my opinions. I believed what others needed me to believe. I spoke how others needed me to speak. I lost myself. Or more accurately was never given a safe space to find myself.

My time and energy were consumed by being forced to side with one parent or the other. It was “your mother this” or “your father did that.”

I felt invisible.

I grew to despise my family. I pushed everyone away to survive. In my mind, family wasn’t a source of joy, laughter and good times described in books and movies, it was the origin of my pain and deepest wounds.

And yet I longed for family, for connection, for belonging. It is, after all, a basic human need. So I spent years seeking out approval, validation and wholeness from outside sources.

I call it “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Looking for someone to rescue me, love me. Someone who could save me from myself. My relationships were short-lived. And the ones that weren’t, I sabotaged.

I’ll spare you the horrific details of these lost years of my life because they don’t matter all that much. I simply wanted to paint a picture of my starting point and give you an idea about the way I was programmed to interpret family.

But most importantly, I wanted to let you know…

It’s never too late to forgive.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.

You are not your wounds.

You can:

  • Create a new family dynamic
  • Have healthy communication
  • Be respected and heard
  • Have your needs met without sacrificing who you are
  • Have supportive relationships

These shitty situations showed me all the things I didn’t want, which gave me the gift of knowing exactly what I did want instead.

I do slip back into default. I do get reactive sometimes. But I don’t  beat myself up about it. I just have to look to see where I’m not taking care of me. Or acknowledge I’m not coping.

That’s when I know it’s time to reach out to my other family: my friends, coaches, mentors, books, my journal.

family

This is a post-it note pasted to one of our kitchen cabinets. I do need reminders to act consciously and from love. Because like I said, sometimes I forget. And it’s okay. The concept is still relatively new and I have to recommit to what I want consistently.

Clarity, commitment and compassion (for yourself and others) are the three most important factors.

  1. Know what you want.
  2. Commit to doing whatever it takes to make it happen (don’t be afraid to ask for support).
  3. Be compassionate and forgiving if and when you get off track.

Repeat. Come back. Make it a habit.

Families love each other no matter what.
They take responsibility for their own feelings.
They support each other’s decisions.
They honor each other’s personalities.
They don’t try to change the other person.
They listen.

When I started digging deep into my healing and the work I do, my dad moved away. It wasn’t a conscious choice to not talk to him. He just wasn’t in alignment with my new picture of family. I still love him with all my heart, but I believe everything that happens is for the highest good of all.

I have a great relationship with my mom – she’s made so many positive changes over the years.

My relationship with my new little family changes and grows more beautiful every day. Just yesterday my son said with all of his heart “You’re a nice parent.” And I received it.

When you start doing the work, people will either change with you or the relationship will fall away. I’m now surrounded by people who love and accept me for who I am. Just as I love and accept them for who they are. If something isn’t working, we talk about it. We don’t stay upset. We sort it out.

Your concept of family has its roots in the past, but starting today it can be whatever you want and need it to be.

Family to me is connection, acceptance, appreciation and of course love. It’s not limited to blood relatives, or even the human race (my kitty is family). It’s the idea that we’re all connected and we all play a role in each other’s lives and on this planet.

Journaling prompts
  1. How has my idea of family changed over the years?
  2. Who do I need to forgive to move forward?
  3. What are my top 5 favorite moments with my family? Why?
  4. What are my 5 least favorite moments? How have they helped me grow?

What does family mean to you? Leave me a comment down below.

Would you like to improve your relationship with yourself and your family? If you’ve  been looking for this kind of support and know you don’t want to go at it alone, I’d love to help you. Go here to sign up to chat with me for free.

Journaling prompts for teens
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[Day 15] 5 Journaling Prompts to Enhance Emotional Intelligence in Teenagers

 

Journaling prompts for teens

Today is the half-way mark of the blog challenge. Woohoo! The goal: repurpose a previous post. So here’s one from a while back that I’ve enhanced.

This article is for teenagers and/or anyone who wants to increase their self awareness and ability to process and express their feelings in a more calm and balanced way.

The teenage years are an especially tumultuous period (as you know) and a critical time to focus on emotional intelligence (if you can start sooner, by all means, do so. My son is 3 and he labels his feelings and always feels better after doing so). Though challenging, these years can be seen as a series of beautiful opportunities for learning and growth for the entire family.

Many issues teens face are due to lack of self awareness and/or emotional intelligence. It’s not something that’s taught in schools – but it should be. When we feel out of control, we lose our power of choice. It becomes increasingly harder to decide upon what we want because our emotions have taken over. And when they run our lives, we no longer have a say.

So often we want something better – we talk about it, dream about it and long for change, but our emotions won’t allow us. They say “whoa whoa whoa wait stop.” But the magic happens when we listen and actively seek the gift within each moment of emotional turmoil – not by staying stuck in it and not by ignoring it, but by choosing to send our deepest love and compassion to ourselves. That’s when everything changes.

Here are 5 journaling prompts (to be used in this order) to help you do just that.

First, recognize your triggers. Ask yourself questions like…

What makes me angry?

What am I afraid of?

When someone said this I felt ______________.

This emotion feels like ____________.

I feel it in my _____________. (throat, chest, stomach, etc)

Anything that will allow you to connect with the feeling so you can release it.

Accept it. Don’t make anyone right or wrong and don’t believe you deserve to feel bad.

Ask yourself “What can I learn from this?”

Forgive yourself.

Write down everything you need to forgive yourself for. And everything you need to forgive others for.

Empathize.

Know you aren’t the only person who feels bad. Others handle things differently and it doesn’t make them wrong.

Write down what you think the other person (or people) are experiencing.

Choose something new.

Get creative with what you want. Write down how you want to feel and why.

For example: I want to feel empowered because when I do I feel like I can conquer the world and I can be who I really am.

As you take the time to go through these prompts on a regular basis, you open yourself up to new possibilities and interactions with others that weren’t previously available. When you are able to connect with and accept all of who you are, you will no longer need to dance between the extremes. You’ll feel more in control of your experience and will therefore feel calm and confident in your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

I’d love to hear how it goes. Please share your comments and insights in the comments box below.

What not to say to someone who self-injures.
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How to REALLY Help Someone Who Struggles with Self-Harm

Recently, I’ve had a lot of people (therapists, counselors, support group facilitators, parents, etc.) ask me about how to help someone who self-harms.

So, here are some things you should know.

  • Most cutters are highly intelligent and extremely sensitive.
  • Many don’t do it in an effort to end their life, but rather, to end their pain.
  • There are, unfortunately, people and websites that are pro self-harm (this is NOT one of those websites and I am NOT one of those people).
  • Self-mutilation is an addiction, and should be treated as such.

And here are some materials to use. Starting with, the top 5 things to never say to someone who self-injures:

What not to say to someone who self-injures.

Next, 5 things you should say instead:

What to say to someone who self-injures.

Take time to know and understand what the person who is cutting is going through.

And listen.

See this person as whole and send your love and compassion. I promise, he or she will be able to feel it.

If you are the one who is self-mutilating, I made this for you to print out (therapists and support group facilitators you can print these out to use in your sessions):

Self-harm worksheet

It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, please do so. Don’t keep it to yourself. I know you feel like no one understands you, but they never will if you’re not willing to let them. Believe it or not, the people around you are just as scared as you are.

Here’s mine as an example:

Tell me you love me.

Here’s another one for you to print out and use:

Things to do instead of cutting

It’s important to know what to do when you feel the urge to cut. When you’re in that state you’re not always rational so having something physical to have on you or in a place where you can see it will remind you that you have other options available.

Here’s mine (feel free to steal some ideas from it):

My list of things to do instead of cutting.

That’s it for now. I hope this is useful!

As always I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Your story matters
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Your Story Matters (Affirmation)

Your story matters. It’s true.

And more importantly, it deserves to be told.

Don’t deny any part of your past.

It has made you who you are.

And you are wonderful just as you are.

Your story matters

Suicide prevention tips for the holidays
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3 Suicide Prevention Tips for the Holidays

Suicide prevention tips for the holidays

So, I’m a member of the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention and this is an article I submitted to them to be used in a statewide newsletter, but I also wanted to make sure it reached my readers first. Please share these suicide prevention tips with as many people as possible. You never know who might need them.

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time for all, but let’s face it, it’s also when a lot of emotions get stirred up for many of us. Whether it’s memories of those we’ve lost, a family gathering gone wrong or the disappointment of not being able to afford gifts. But I’d like to offer a new perspective on this. What if instead of viewing these events as wrong or bad, we allowed the memories to surface and gave ourselves permission to express how we truly feel? And what if this created opportunites for forgiveness and deeper connections with those we love?

Perhaps this holiday season can be a time for healing and connection. Maybe our love and presence and choice to uplift others will lend hope to those who need it most. And maybe when we allow others to uplift us, we’ll give them a sense of purpose and belonging. You never know.

Here are three simple guidelines to experience more joy and connection for the holidays – two things that may just save someone’s life.

#1 – Have keen awareness.

This is a time to be really tuned in. To yourself. To the world around you. And to all those you love. Each person you encounter is a reflection of you. Every human being on this earth is unique and offers value to the world. When we choose to look at our life in this way, it appears a little brighter and in turn has a positive impact on those closest to us. So, be present to the gift each moment has to offer. And be aware of the gift that is you. As you know and feel your own worth, you inspire others to find it within themselves. YES, you are that powerful!

#2 – Let connection be the priority.

Before your interactions with others, set the intention to connect and experience more love, laughter or anything you’d like. For example, if you’re about to have a conversation with your best friend, first make it clear in your mind (and your heart!) that you want to feel connected – imagine the two of you laughing and enjoying one another’s company. You can also make your intentions known by sharing them with your family and friends. Tell them what you want and how you feel and ask them what they’d like to see and feel more of in their life. A lot of the time we assume others know what we want, but the only way to be abolutely certain is to speak up. You might be surprised to discover it’s all the other person wanted too, but he or she was afraid to ask.

#3 – Let love be what fuels you.

Actively look for evidence of love in all people, including yourself. If something is going on with someone you love, you can feel it. If you notice something is up, don’t take it personally, but definitely take it seriously. Offer to help (not fix) in any way you can and ask for help when you need it. Find little things you appreciate about yourself and everyone you encounter. At the grocery store, while you’re waiting for your food or even by offering a smile to the person sitting in the car next to you at a stop light. When you make a point to put love at the top of your list and are driven by the desire to love and be loved, anything is possible.

As you keep these three concepts in mind and practice them on a daily basis you’ll create healing for yourself and your entire family. You are such an asset to this world. We all are. And we’re all in this together. So this holiday season give those you love something greater than presents or the “perfect”occasion – give them the gift of being seen and heard and allow others to see you and hear what you have to say.

 

Journal Time:

As a journaling exercise for today, write about some other ways you can deepen your connection with those you love…and even those you don’t.

How can you deepen your connection to YOU?

 

As always, thank you for reading and please leave your comments below. How did this article impact you?