#empowerment

How To Keep Boundaries And Not Settle In Our Relationships

 

J Clynes Photography

There is nothing quite as electrifying or soul satisfying as falling in love and thinking we’ve found a partner to spend our lives with. But what happens when you start to see and feel that this man or woman is causing you more pain than joy and you are already so deeply invested?

I believe relationships are assignments. They bring up all our “stuff.” In other words, you and your significant other will both be triggered, old wounds will come up for the purpose of healing. You will both have to feel your feelings and release them in order to move forward and grow as a couple.

“Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing.” ~A Course in Miracles

As a student of A Course in Miracles and a woman devoted to my spiritual growth, I was up for working through any difficult emotions or situations that came up. My partner was not. It wasn’t as easy as just cutting him lose immediately though. I had developed deep feelings for him, and we were in love.

I felt guilty for wanting to simply abandon him and the relationship. I truly wanted to grow with him. A friend gave my a piece of advice that really struck a cord with me. It resonated much more intimately than, “Girl, you deserve better,” and “He’s not good enough for you.”

My friend told me I was basing my decision to (at least temporarily) stay in the relationship off of my feelings and not my values. When I explained to her that I loved this man and wanted a future with him, but had some major concerns like the fact he wasn’t interested in a spiritual life at all and was unwilling to work through any emotional baggage or issues stemming from his divorce, both of which are extremely important to me.

It seemed obvious to my friend that my guy was simply not ready for a serious relationship despite telling me otherwise. His decision to lie to me on more than one occasion came up as character defects as well (things I had overlooked because I loved him). We both knew the right decision was to walk away from this relationship. So why was it so difficult and painful to end it?

I was evaluating if I should stay in the relationship based off my strong feelings for this man rather than what I value. When I wrote down what I value in a romantic partner, I realized this man did not embody many of those qualities, like supporting me emotionally, sharing my spiritual commitment to a higher power and being fully committed to me.

My friend reflected back to me what she saw. She asked me to pretend I had never met my boyfriend, and said I have this great guy for you, and I know you will find him very charming and attractive. Want me to hook you up with him?

“Sure,” I said.

My friend said, “Great! But he won’t share your values, he is spiritually passive, he will refuse to work through any of his emotional baggage and instead project his pain onto you, he will talk about his ex wife all the time, he won’t support you emotionally, he won’t celebrate your career accomplishments, well, actually he won’t respect that you work hard at all, and he will attack and criticize your feelings. But I think you will love him. So do you want to go out with him?”

Feeling repulsed, I said, “No!”

It became crystal clear I was leading with my feelings and not my values. My attachment to this man was getting in the way of what I truly desired in a life partner and was clouding my judgment. I recognized that my spiritual values would have to lead the way instead if I wanted a loving relationship that would last and be deeply fulfilling.

While at first I thought I was walking away from a great connection and love, I realized I was actually protecting and preserving love by requiring the character values that make it work. When I explained to my boyfriend that this is what I wanted and wasn’t interested in anything less, he agreed that he was not ready for this kind of relationship. I said I hope you become ready, I want that person to be you, but right now, I have to move on.

I had hopes that he would be inspired to go to counseling, get support and want to fully commit to a loving relationship with me. Turns out, he doesn’t want to work through any of his issues, and I have to respect his decision and close that door permanently. I truly wish him the best on his journey, and I’m thankful for the soul growth I experienced while dating him. I learned what I want, and more importantly, what I do not want in a committed romantic relationship.

I think it’s important that each of us look for a set of inner values in our relationships from the beginning, and if our love interest is not displaying those values, we consciously choose to not get involved and hold out for the person who embodies those cherished values. It’s even more imperative that we cultivate the characteristics that are valuable to us and keep ourselves in check as well. It’s our values that ultimately protect us.

When we lead with our values, not how we feel about someone, even when how we feel about someone is very strong, our values will lead us to the right person. Do not settle for less. Keep your boundaries. Guard your heart. Only give it to someone worth giving it to.

 

 

How To Build Strong (Emotional) Muscles, And Feel Peaceful No Matter What

Emotional Muscles

We all know that if we want to be physically fit, we have to workout and train our physical muscles through cardiovascular exercises, strength-training, stretching and so on. We also know this takes great discipline, and we can’t just work out sporadically and expect great results.

While much societal emphasis is placed on the importance of having a strong, fit, healthy body, less attention is paid to developing healthy emotional muscles. Self-control over our feelings needs regular exercise to stay strong as well.

Why This Is Important

Have you ever been having a perfectly fine (even wonderful!) day, only to receive an upsetting phone call or rude email that instantly “ruins” your day? I know I have. I recently received a phone call from my agent alerting me to the fact that a client was refusing to pay me for a job I had already performed, making all kinds of excuses and trying to justify why withholding payment was perfectly normal.

I found myself getting so irate, taking their unprofessionalism personally and feeling personally attacked, saying “How dare they mess with my money!” While I had a valid reason to be upset, nothing is worth getting that worked up over and spiraling into a state of despair.

It is one thing for someone to try to hurt us financially, but yet another to allow a person to steal our joy. I literally gave away my good mood for free, and there is no price tag we can put on our peace and happiness. It is invaluable.

I learned a huge lesson that day. I saw how easily I let another person and unfortunate situation control my mood. I knew I never wanted to feel this way again. Certainly none of us are going to go through the rest of our lives without experiencing hurts and frustrations, and it’s important to embrace the fact that we are 100% responsible for our reactions to upsetting events. In other words, most of us need to bulk up our emotional muscles.

How To Build Courage Muscles:

1. Learn to discipline your emotions.

If you’re a parent, you’re probably all too familiar with giving your children a “time-out.” Sometimes as adults, we need a time-out, too. We can discipline our emotions by refusing to let our feelings rule our lives. Rather than acting on emotional impulses and saying or doing something we will later regret, we can resist the temptation and see our reaction as an opportunity to grow and develop character.

There will always be opportunities to lose our temper and get upset, but when we feel our emotions rising, we can choose not to act on them, and stay calm instead. It’s the same thing as not feeling like going to the gym, but you go anyway because you are disciplined and know how good you will feel after your workout.

2. Take the high road. Forgive.

When someone is rude to us, and we don’t engage, we pass the metaphorical test. When we are willing to apologize even when it’s not our fault, we grow up fast and build strong character that attracts abundance into our lives.

We will always be tempted to over-react in the areas where we are the weakest. These situations shine a light on our own limits to love. It is easy to love people who are loving, but the challenge is to love those who are behaving in unloving ways. They teach us how to love better and stronger. Forgive them. They are growing your character.

3. Don’t get on board.

It’s hard to overlook an insult, keep a positive attitude and be patient when nothing seems to be going our way. We think if those rude people would just stop being rude, everything would be great. But when we allow ourselves to realize that this rude person or upsetting situation is perfect for us because it allows us to change for the better, we take back our power.

It may not feel very pleasant to do 100 burpees at the gym with your personal trainer, but think how strong your body will look and feel if you commit to exercising your physical muscles this way on a regular basis. The same applies to our emotional muscle workouts.

So the next time somebody does you wrong and you want to get upset, send an unloving text or email, scream at the top of your lungs or completely shut down, see it as a beautiful opportunity to heal an old wound and grow immensely. With practice, you will become more and more non-reactive, and feel a greater sense of peace and freedom.

Remember, when you see the anger train coming, you don’t have to get on board!

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