When Do I Know When it is Time to Leave?

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“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; What matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”

-Paulo Coelho

I wasn’t planning on writing today, but I kept seeing messages that I couldn’t let slip by. One of the hardest decisions in a toxic relationship is knowing when and/or if to leave.

Years ago, I received a message well before I would ever need it. I wasn’t married and/or dating at the time. I don’t have a clue where the message came from or who, but the message stayed solid in my brain: You are only ready to leave a marriage when you can walk away without anger. I took that to mean all relationships. The point was, if we walk away before we are truly ready, we will repeat the pattern in the next relationship.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly DO NOT like repeating unhealthy patterns. If I am going to end something, I want to make sure that I’m ending it.  These 7 steps are not all in order, because the order changes. Here is what I learned from my experience:

1. Seeing the Problems Starts with Questions

  • Am I supposed to be here?
  • Is this the right relationship for me?
  • Is there trust?
  • Is there loyalty?
  • Is there betrayal?
  • Do I love him/her?
  • Do I fear him/her?
  • Are we compatible?
  • Do I like the person they are?
  • Do I want to change who they are?
  • Is being with her/him destructive to my well-being?
  • Do I feel safe communicating with him/her?
  • Do we have the same morals and values?
  • Do we respect each other?
  • Why is he/her treating me like this?

The list goes on and on, but these are an indicator that something needs to change. The question is what? These questions can be created by our own inner drama and until we work through that, we won’t see the answers to any question clearly.

2. Am I Expecting Him/Her to Be Someone They Are Not?

Unrealistic expectations on others have the power to destroy any relationship. When we expect people to be any person other than who they are we create a relationship nightmare. The key is observing the person we are with. Let him/her be themselves, then figure out if that is the person we want to be with. If he is doing things that I don’t like, the question is can I accept the behavior. I can’t change the other person. Here is what we can do:

  • Be aware of our reaction to the behavior
  • Look at the situation from other perspectives
  • How would I need to change my behavior to change my perspective? Is that an acceptable choice to me?

3. Communicate with My Partner

Healthy relationships have healthy communications. There is no name-calling and/or belittling. We need to accept our part in any communication. It is important to know we have done everything in our power to work through the issues at hand. Communication is key.

  • Take responsibility for our feelings. Speak to the other person from a loving place: I feel _________ when you do _____________. This is not saying, he/she made you feel something. They don’t have the power to do that. They can’t make you happy, sad, or angry. Our feelings our our choice. Communicating feelings in this way can help take the defensiveness out of the situation. If we are not blaming our partners, they may be able to see how their behaviors are effecting us. Many times, we don’t mean to hurt each other. It happens because we don’t know how our behaviors look to the other person. Most times, if not all, our extreme reactions come from past circumstances. It can go as far back as childhood.
  • Get help if the patterns have become so bad that communication is destructive.
  • Research and try different forms of healthy communication.

4. Make a List of What I Want in the Relationship

Keep the list positive! Read my article, 3 Amazing Jewels: Important Lessons in Understanding the Law of Attraction and see why it is important to be clear about what we want. We have to be the person we want to see on our list. How are we contributing to the relationship we want to have with our partners?

5. Pray for Answers!!

When we pray we will get answers. We might not understand them, and they may be different than what we expected, but they will be there. I know this first hand.

Here are some suggested prayers:

  • Please, give me signs if I should stay or go. Make them clear and impossible to miss because I want to make sure I understand.
  • Please help me see the lesson so that I can move on.
  • How do I find peace with this relationship?
  • What can I change about myself to help me do what I need to do?

Pay attention for the answers! Meditation is a great way to help to slow down. Even if it is 3 long deep breaths, it helps.

6. Work on ME

“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now p. 174

If things aren’t changing, it is because we aren’t getting better. Dive in and dive deep! Does this mean we are responsible for the other person’s behavior? Heck no! When we are ready, doors gently shut and all the right doors begin opening. We will no longer accept unacceptable behaviors. Our energy will change so much that the person will either change with us or the relationship will end.

7. Forgive Myself

I’m not a person who blames other people, but I definitely used to love blaming myself. What I found, blame is toxic to everybody; including me. If there is resentment against someone else, forgive them. That is toxic energy that is carried around and it gets uglier the longer it hangs on. The greatest act of forgiveness is a changing the way we treat ourselves and others. It’s time to let go of what we have done and become the beautiful person we were meant to be.

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This process takes time, for me, it took about three years. I made sure without a doubt in my mind that leaving was the best choice. The signs I prayed for, couldn’t be clearer. My mom had told me, “When you are ready to leave, you will know it.” When I did leave, I was at peace and didn’t look back. I was able to move on with my life. There were a few issues I didn’t see clearly in that relationship that I worked out in the next, but it didn’t take long to work through them. Little things will always come up, but the more clear we are with ourselves, we will know it is our lesson to work on. When we face it head on, some doors will close while others will open wide.

All of my articles come from my journey through the darkness into a loving place. If this one helped you, you might also like:

Why Did I Choose Him?

5 Steps to Being Treated the Way You Deserve

10 Positive Lessons I Learned From my Parents

Discovering the Meaning of Love

5 Lessons in Personal Growth

Give Yourself the Love You Deserve

Lessons in the Drama

There are plenty more… Please feel free to send e a message on my Facebook Page: From a Loving Place!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

 

Bring On 40

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“Life really does begin at forty. Up until then, you are just doing research.”

-Carl G. Jung

Today, I’m 40. I have been looking forward to this day for many reasons. First, I made it!!!! Yes, I had some sketchy years that made me question if I was going to make it to 40, but I did it. I survived it all! In my darkest hours, when I begged God to take me, I was left here. I questioned, what did I do to deserve this? Why me? Why does God hate me? Will this life get any better? Why am I doomed to be miserable?  I spent my teenage years hating myself so much that I didn’t believe I deserved a place on this planet.

I had no idea I was being carried through those years. Now I see the gifts I received to get me through. The people, the AMAZING people, who entered my life at that time. It is overwhelming to think about them now. I was given SO many growth opportunities; SO fast. I didn’t know my own strength, but I got through, and I survived. I had an army of support. I just didn’t know it. I was so wrapped up in feeling alone, you couldn’t convince me otherwise.

Throughout most of my 20’s, I was career focused. I found a place as a sales trainer on stage and traveling; the two things I loved most. From the outside, I was living the life. The problem was, I relied on everyone else telling me how great I was. Their opinions are what mattered. If I spoke in a room with 1,000 people and five didn’t like me, those were the five I based my value on. I studied drama in high school. I knew how to become a different character without any problem. When I was on stage, I was on. When I was off stage and the curtains were drawn, I was a mess. I was one sick puppy. I was addicted to a horrible type of power and control. My intimate relationships were a direct reflection of how I treated myself. It got so bad, one bled into the other. I sabotaged my career and went on a five year downward spiral. This is where I learned humility. I lost my identity and became the labels of wife and mom, but there was no me in sight. November 2008, I was sent an Earth Angel.   A woman entered my life as an answered prayer. That was the beginning of me discovering who I was buried underneath all the layers.

More AMAZING miracles came into my life, they were disguised as incredible and strong women. These amazing examples gave me the courage to look at myself, and say YOU ARE WORTH IT! March 9, 2009 was my 33rd birthday. I was so sick of my situation. I was done blaming everyone else, it was time for me to take back my life.  That was the day, I walked into Al-Anon. It was there, I began to look at the unhealthy patterns in my life and started getting the tools to undo the mess I created. I kept being led to read books that would have profound effects on my life. I worked hard, and I was determined.

A month after turning 35, I left my old life behind. I moved, became a single mother, and  began school that fall. These last five years have been full of learning. Only this time, in a much healthier and less traumatic way. I have learned a lot about myself on this journey. Now, I get to share what I have learned with you.

Today, on my 40th birthday, I am me. I know and love the person I have become. It has been a long road, but well worth it. I am grateful for EVERY piece of my journey, because without each and every lesson, I wouldn’t be me. It was through my struggles, I learned to be compassionate towards others. It is through my pain, I found my inspiration. It is through all my tears (which is A LOT) from joy and/or sadness, I found my passion. So, I say bring on 40!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I feel truly blessed.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

The Power of Nature

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“Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their innermost being, their true nature.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose p. 2

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Location:  Myakka River in Venice, FL

Seeing the beauty in nature is how I know when I am completely in the moment. If I can pay attention to the details; I’m there. My head is no longer visiting the past or questioning the future. I am at one with the moment. For this reason, I know when I am scattered and lost too. If I can drive down the road and not spot anything beautiful outside I’m gone. My head is so wrapped up in the chaos tornado whirling the past and future around and in my head. It is my sign to slow down, take three long and deep breaths and re-engage with the moment.

If I have ability to go outside in these moments, I go find the nearest tree. I stand on the roots, touch the trunk, and breathe. If I can get myself to the point where I feel the tingles of energy running through me, I’m re-centered. Then I start to pay attention to all the beautiful things in nature around me. This is how my day transforms. Everything becomes more elaborate and alive. The best part, my mind is clear.

These are the times, I am open to guidance, signs, and miracles. If I’m busy with my tornado, nothing is clear. I miss the giant signs telling me what to do. I get caught up in desperate prayers, but don’t give myself space to hear and/or see the reply. Nature is how I gage how I am doing. If I can find the awe, I’m in a good place. Awe is where miracles are seen.

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Location: Venice, FL

I was once told, “I don’t have time to get outside and appreciate nature.” That would be to say, the person never leaves the house or looks out a window. Nature is around us. It is the wildlife, clouds, colors, water, desert, trees, flowers, and plants. When a person says this, it is not that they don’t have time. They are not ready to get out of their own tornado. Where we put our focus tells us a lot. If we can’t see the beauty around us, we most certainly are not seeing it within us. This effects the way we see both other people and the situations surrounding us. We must put the energy into the things we want to see in the world. As our inner focus transforms our thinking, our outer world reflects the change.

In order for me to stay in-line with my purpose, I must focus on the beauty within and surrounding me. Not to say, I don’t have my bad days. I live in a coastal city in Florida. Driving in tourist season is a reminder of the work I still need to do. I also am a parent of two young children; enough said. I don’t always handle these situations in a zen-like manner. The point is, nobody is perfect. Life will throw us opportunities to dive into the fear or the love. We need both to grow. The question is, which one is at the foundation.

My relationship with nature has got me through a lot of sticky situations. I have had the opportunity to see so many amazing miracles in my life, just by getting outside.

A tree taught me the importance of getting rid of dead weight in order to grow. I also learned about the energy they give off and how to use it to help me center myself.

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Location: Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL

Sunrises and sunsets is how I remember to be in complete AWE. Sunrises taught me about the magic of the peace of quiet in the early morning hours. Sunsets have filled me with the magic of light.

Locations: Sunrise – Hayesville, NC  Sunset: Naples, FL

The eagle gave me a glimpse of strength, perspective, and a reminder to soar.

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Swamp walks taught me the importance of being present, because boy can stepping on the wrong thing hurt your feet.

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Location: Naples, FL (My son and I) Photo Credit: Daniel (Zeke) Schryver

Being quiet in the woods helps me to pay attention to all of its amazing sounds. It is also the reminder of all the creatures we share the Earth with. We are just one small piece to a very large puzzle. It is important to me to respect that. It also keeps me in perspective. The world does not revolve around me. Other people don’t do things to intentionally hurt me. They are unconscious and taking their own pain out on me, because I am there. When I can  get there, I’m at peace.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia

I become as solid as the mountain that I love looking out from.

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Location: Stone Mountain, Georgia

As my thirties are coming to an end, I noticed they were about letting go of the past and discovering the life I was meant to live. It was in these past ten years that I have been able to really see nature’s way of showing me how to live life fuller and connect to it’s messages. My life became amazing when I connected to the AWE!

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Photo Credit: All pictures, except the one noted, were taken by Rachael Wolff. It is important to me to share my personal moments with you, because they are a big part of my journey.

Letting Go of Happily Ever After

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I stopped trying to find “happily ever after”. I learned to understand that it belongs in those one to two hour fairytales that I watch on screen. I realized, I didn’t see the person in front of me when I was focused on the unpredictable forever. I would create a story of how a partner should be. He should react this way, when I do this. He should buy me flowers. He should choose me over fill in the blank. Why can’t he be more like that? Just writing this ties my stomach in knots. I should-ed these poor men to death.  I have no idea how they could say I was needy…choke, choke, choke. My expectations were completely out of whack with reality.

I didn’t know any of them. I knew who I wanted them to be, to fit into what my fantasy of “happily ever after”. I didn’t want any of them for who they actually were. You wouldn’t blame me if you knew some of them, but I wanted to be in that fairytale where the woman saves the man (hold on a minute, laugh break). I had no idea how ugly this tale turns out in reality. Even though, I have plenty of examples of healthy relationships around me, it took me years to break free from the toxic formula of my mom and dad’s relationship. They both went on to have healthy, beautiful, and different kinds of relationships.

My dad and my “other mother”, were together for 21 years until his death. I remember being in my teens or early 20’s when they explained to me that they were happy now and they enjoyed each other’s company, but if it ever came to place where they didn’t, they would set the other one free. They didn’t want a piece of paper telling them they were tied together, their souls told them that. They exchanged rings and committed to each other, but not legally. I have never been against marriage; I know many wonderful, healthy married couples. This touched me, because it fit them perfectly. What I realized, they didn’t focus on the fairytale; they focused on the moment in front of them.

My mom stayed single for a very long time. She spent a lot of time working on herself to ensure she wouldn’t repeat the old and unhealthy patterns of her previous relationships. When she met my stepdad, she was perfectly happy and content living the way she was. She wasn’t missing anything. They were two whole people. I am fortunate to see them on a daily basis and watch how they communicate with love after 18 years. Do they have their disagreements? Of course, but they don’t use the past as a weapon. They stay present, and work their way forward together.  They maintain their own individual identities. They are just as strong together as they are when they are apart.

Seeing the three different relationships of my mom and dad, dad and “other mother”, and mom and stepdad helped me to see relationships operate in different ways. It helped me to not judge other people’s relationships and compare them to mine. Each relationship comes with its own lessons meant for the couple in the relationship. Two people come together for different reasons. I realized that two people could make a toxic couple, but can go off to have healthy relationships. Sometimes, it is the toxic relationships that help us appreciate the healthy ones.  I know I had to go through all my relationships to learn who I was and what was right for me. It took quite a few, but I am grateful for every one of them. Each one allowed me to dig a little deeper and learn a lot more about the person I was, and the person I wanted to be.

For a long time, I hid from my own challenges by finding partners I viewed as sicker than I was. We would both be on a path of bettering ourselves, but I would feel like I was ahead of them (BIG LAUGH). I had no idea, I was as sick as they were. I would stay in a relationship until, I was truly in a place that didn’t match their energy. When I gave up “happily ever after” and started focusing on what was in front of me, I naturally had a healthy relationship come into my life. I have slipped into brief periods of letting other people’s fantasies of our relationship get into my head, including my children’s. When I do that, it doesn’t feel right, and I stop focusing on what is right for us. I’m happy, I’m aware enough to catch myself in other people’s stories of who they think we should be. I know it is not ill intentioned, I know they speak from a place of love and what feels right for them. It doesn’t mean I have to attach to it. If I get angry, insecure, sad, excited, I’m attaching to it, and it means I need to look at what truly feels right for me. Some elements may stick and others may not.

The relationship I have now, is right here and right now. That is what works for us. We are happy and we enjoy each other’s company. In the almost two years we’ve been together, we haven’t called each other a name out of anger, and we communicate when things aren’t sitting right in our heads. We give each other space to be individuals and support each other’s dreams. We definitely don’t agree with everything, and we are very different in the way we do things. The difference, we respect each other’s differences and laugh about them a lot. To me, it is so much better than a “happily ever after” illusion. I see him, and I love him. He is not expected to be anyone else in my head. Do I know if this love story will last forever? No, and that’s ok. I know it is here now. I know, I’m happy now. I know, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Today, I let flowers bloom. I know they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, without any expectation to be something different than what they are. Appreciate the differences in others, learn from them, and figure out what is right for you. When two flowers are meant to bloom alongside each other, they will. Notice,  in nature each has their own space to grow separately, each needs a healthy root system, if not, they smother each other. Then, neither flower/plant/tree has space to grow, and they both struggle to survive.

The energy we give our own roots is important to how we will share space with others.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

Lessons in the Drama

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“Argue with your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”

-Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah p. 75

 

Drama can be a great inspiration to grow. Life can be nice, calm, and move along, but where is the fun in that. When we start seeing drama as a teacher, we can appreciate the lesson and move on and away from it much faster. Sometimes it takes drama to get us to change. Drama likes to stick around us and get worse until we learn the lesson. How do we know when we learned it? The same situation can be there, but there is no more drama surrounding it. The situation changes or it goes away. It is as simple as that. If it still creates an emotional reaction, the lesson has not been learned.

I have an ex-husband. Our relationship was not pretty. It was full of drama, and it got worse and worse throughout our relationship. I had to come to a point where I said enough. Not enough to him, but enough to myself. I wasn’t getting peace at home because I had no idea what peace looked like within me. I was constantly a part of the drama. I was the person that people felt sorry for and was the victim of my world. I knew nothing about how to have a low drama life. I was an awful-izer. I knew how to make absolutely everything around me awful. My relationship, my kids, my friends, and my life. I was swimming in a pool of drama. I could see everyone’s toxicity around me, but I couldn’t see my own. I love all those saying about leaving the negative people and drama behind. The part I didn’t get, “I” had to leave it behind.

The drama in my life told me, I needed to change. For years, I tried to change the situation around me, my location, friends, jobs, and partners. The problem was that I didn’t change the source of the problem: ME. I kept expecting different results and the drama kept escalating. I wasn’t getting it, and the drama wouldn’t stop coming until I did.

After embracing a path that was about changing myself, everything in my life improved. Do I still struggle with drama from time to time? Yes. Yesterday was actually one of those days. I wrapped myself right up in it. My head was in a completely chaotic place about my daughter and where she was emotionally. I completely submersed myself in my story about how horrible things are for her and felt completely helpless about how I could help her. The drama was building up around her. Yesterday, I crashed. I hit the point I call it a breakdown to breakthrough moment.

I needed the drama to get me to do something different. I needed to stop talking about the problem and start embracing a solution. Once I was able to get to that place and see my part in the drama the miracles started happening. People started showing up to help. I got appointments in the small windows of space  I had open. The voice inside me said, “It’s time!”.

We can pretend the drama is not there by focusing on other people, doing for them what we don’t do for ourselves. We can gossip and read about all the other problems in the world and bitch and complain until we are blue in the face. We can blame our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, family, partners, and kids. You name it, we can do it. The problem is, we are just letting the drama grow and fester until the point of explosion. We can’t change it and make it better until we see our part in it. If we didn’t have a part in it, the drama wouldn’t affect us. It couldn’t effect us. Drama only has a life when we create it.

Are you engaged in someone else’s drama? We only engage in someone else’s when we are avoiding our own. Something inside us is stirred up and not getting attention. Otherwise, when someone else has something going on we know how to separate it and look at it from a constructive point of view. I’m amazed when people feel like they are putting their problems on me. Nobody can put their problems on me. If I pick up their problems and walk away with them, that is my stuff. I know when I am supporting a person, Their drama is their journey. I don’t take their situation personally. I don’t take it personally when they don’t agree with what I’m saying or the advice I am giving. It is not my drama, and I know it.

Is it more challenging when it is our own kids, partners, family and friends? Of course, because they are the best sources for our deepest and most powerful lessons. I was just there yesterday. The great news, the time it takes to learn from the drama gets shorter and shorter as we become aware and take less personally.

Here are a few of the resources I use to teach me the lesson in the drama:

  1. Byron Katie. My favorite book is Loving What is  in the audiobook version because it has her in the live sessions. Nothing beats hearing her at work. What her work does is it gets me to question my thinking. She doesn’t say that I need to change it. She just makes the participant aware of it. You can also find her sessions on her Facebook page, The Work of Byron Katie.
  2. Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom This book is an easy read that educates the reader on how to free themselves from the drama that surrounds us. It helps us become the best versions of ourselves and not to take other people’s journeys personally. I can’t tell you how many times I have read this book!
  3. Talk to drama free people. When I want change, I want people who are solution oriented. I’m not interested in getting advice from people who are jumping into the pot with me. If I go to advice from those people, I know I still have work to do.
  4. Become aware of self-talk. I know that this will effect everything! If I am being hard on myself and have my “bad me” bat out, I will not find the best solution. I will take the fear and anger route and that never leads to good things. I only create more drama. The whole point is to learn from it and move on.
  5. Get out the gratitude list. I will write every day about what I’m grateful for. Nothing gets me out of drama faster than realizing, I don’t need to be in it.
  6. The positive play list. I created a play list on my phone that is full with songs that inspire me to feel better and move. I also have a library full of audiobooks and meditations.
  7. Walk around the lake. I love walking around the lake and playing a meditation to get my head straight. I’m a big fan of the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation ExperienceThere are different experiences available for helping with a variety of topics. These are a great ways to stay centered. If you don’t have a lake or it is not accessible, find a peaceful place and use it.
  8. Keep the Feed Clean. I love Facebook because I have liked so many wonderful pages that help to keep my positive thoughts on whenever I need a boost. I choose not to follow anything that is negative. You can find many of the pages that feed my thinking on my Facebook page: From A Loving Place

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

Please, come on this journey with me! Pick a post that calls to you from the menu on the top left corner of the title page on the From A Loving Place website and like me on Facebook. Send me a message, I would love to hear from you.

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Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

Give Yourself the Love You Deserve

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“Thoughts are like data programmed into a computer, registered on the screen of your life. If you don’t like what you see on the screen, there’s no point in going up to the screen and trying to erase it. Thought is Cause; experience is Effect. If you don’t like the effects in your life,  you have to change the nature of your thinking.

Love in your mind produces love in your life.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 24

I was scanning Facebook, and I kept seeing articles and memes about love and relationships. I saw very few on being in-love with ourselves. No relationship will cure a lack within us. Believe me, I have tried. It always ended the same way, and I kept repeating the same cycle for a long time.

If we have an expectation of someone else, it is usually because we are not giving ourselves what we need.

When we don’t take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, we start taking it out on those around us. We expect them to do what we are not doing for our own well being. If we respect ourselves, the people we are with will have no other choice than to respect us too. Why? We won’t allow otherwise. Our boundaries of how we will let someone treat us will become crystal clear, and it will not be done with force.

If we find ourselves having to use force, we still have work to do. Something inside us is still feeling insecure. Our energies will only attract like energies. If we keep attracting wonderful people to our lives, it is because our energy is aligned with theirs.

If we keep attracting people who we feel hurt by, it is because we are somehow hurting ourselves. How do we change this? How do we make our already good relationships even better? How do start attracting the relationships with family, friends, and significant others that we want?

We have to nurture our relationship with ourself. Yes! Be the very person we want to see in someone else. This is not just a throw-a-way line. Many people think that if we are nice to others, we should EXPECT that in return. NO! We can’t expect others to do anything, but what we can do is EXPECT that of the way we treat ourselves.

Self-love creates healthy boundaries for all relationships. We put out an energy that tells people how to treat us. We will not accept people being cruel to us. We will be able to walk away from the situation in a loving way. This doesn’t mean we will walk away from a person just because they are having a bad day. It means that their behavior won’t eat at our foundation. We will not let their thoughts about the world alter our loving core. If they are hurting we will be able to give them love, because we will know that their hurt is their journey.

We won’t even attract cruelty anymore. There is a energy force field that surrounds loving energy and it only grows and expands. Will we have bad days? Yes! Will we slip into old behavior patterns? Yes! Will we be given new lessons that we didn’t even know we had coming? OH YES! The kinder we are to ourselves during our slips tells us how far we have come and how much farther we have to go.

If we can’t treat ourselves as special as we want someone else to treat us, there is a problem. It will keep coming up until the lesson is learned. Taking the plunge with ourself doesn’t ensure that we will all the sudden meet our life long partner, but it does mean, we can enjoy the relationships that are presented to us. The lessons will be softer and recovery time will be shorter.

I have been amazed what a year of truly being committed to myself did for me. When I started treating myself right, I was able to give more of myself to others. The best part, I don’t hold it against them. If you want to read my personal journey about this please read my post, “Discovering the Meaning of Love”. All I know is that when I invested the time in myself, my world changed.

For those of you who want a more substantial love life, I invite you to have a love affair with yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Treat yourself as good as you are willing to treat the people around you.  Make it special! If you can put the effort into someone else, you can definitely put the effort into you. Visit me on Facebook and tell me what you are doing for yourself. Enjoy the love affair. This is a relationship worth investing in!

Discovering the Meaning of Love

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“My negativity was as destructive to me as alcohol is to the alcoholic. I was an artist finding my own jugular. It was as though I was addicted to my own pain.”

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love p. 9

Coming from a divorced home, it is not uncommon to have problems with intimate relationships. If there are challenges such as mental illness, addiction, workaholics, chronic pain, relationship issues, and/or financial struggles, whether a family is together or not, it can still contribute to problems with intimacy. No matter what the situation is, when there is trust and connection issues from childhood it tends to spill over to adulthood.

It is common to work our past issues out through our current relationships. I learned to effectively communicate with my mom in my teen years. My mom and I learned the language of speaking to each other in “I feel________ because_______” terms. We went to group therapy, which was a powerful tool. It helped me break the blaming cycle early on.  after I was able to step back and heal some of the old damage, I was able to heal, repair, and develop many positive female relationships without any added drama. I’m surrounded by those relationships today.

I tend to see the majority issues in two areas, with my kids and with men. My kids offer me so many tools in self exploration. They tend to show me the best and we will say “works in progress” on a daily basis. Before having kids, I promised myself I would get my act together before they became teenagers. My mom’s transformation had a giant impact on my life, but it was very hard in the early years because she had to put most the focus on her in order to be better for my sister and I in the long run. Her transformation began when I was around 13, so it left a lot of doors open for learning the hard way. I wanted to get a head start, I’m definitely a work in progress. Staying present is one of my biggest challenges in parenting. All I know is if I am present, I can hear their needs clearly.

As for men, when I was young, I would cling to the attention of them. I wanted to be loved so bad, but I had no concept of what love really was. My definition was warped and twisted. I thought boys wanting me sexually was healthy attention. I thought I needed to chase them and that sex equaled intimacy. I made a lot of unhealthy decisions in my quest for love. I even hurt other girls and women because I truly had no self-worth to think about how my behaviors would affect them. I would get jealous of what other girls/women had. I acted out accordingly.  I made a lot of amends in my late teens and early twenties.

I used to obsess about the romantic movies wanting that kind of Hollywood love story. I loved words, if a guy could say the right things, I would fall to his feet.  I had a string of short-lived relationships because I found that after the 6-month mark things changed and the story ended. The romantic words became less frequent and there was little to go on. I used to joke that the first person I lasted over 6-months with: I would marry. Guess what, I did. The problem was, I still didn’t know what love truly was. I didn’t know the effects of emotional abuse and how it masked itself as love. Before I became a mom, I went to a seminar about parenting. I learned the importance of language when communicating with children, and how saying things like, “You’re crazy”, “You’re stupid”, and “You’re lazy” labels them as a person and has lasting psychological effects. Changing the language and making a point not to label and make a comment such as, “You are acting silly” changes a lot. Now, take that to intimate relationships, how is it any different?

As important as words can be in this way, I had to learn that words mean nothing if there is no loving action behind them. Sweet words followed by fearful actions are a pathway to abuse, whether it is emotional or physical. It is not just abuse given or received to another person, it is the abuse we do to ourselves. Understanding my fears keeps me from acting them out on the people I love. Ignoring them and/or denying them is a time bomb waiting to go off.

When I was ready for a lesson in love, the door opened and I read a verse that I have seen and heard a million times:

(4) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. (7) It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(8) Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will com to an end. (9) For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part; (10) but when the complete comes, the partial will com to and end.

-Corinthians 13.4-13.10, Harper Collins Study Bible (Student Edition) p. 1950

My house built on a foundation of fear crumbled to the ground. This was so much bigger than my problems with intimate relationships. It was a wake up call to how I treated myself, children, life, community, and world. When I started to believe in these words and concepts my life had a new purpose. They were not just words on paper anymore, they had life. They were everything that was right and wrong in the world. I started seeing oneness and becoming a lot more aware of ideas and groups that used separation as a tool to judge others. I found my judgements were all personal reflections and that love truly wasn’t about being right. That included the old concepts I believed about myself.

Am I going to always have the presence to act out of loving place? No! I’m human and far from perfect. I will be challenged time and time again. Will I do my best? Yes! Will I stop beating myself up when I fail? Yes, because that is an act of love. I only continue the cycle of fear when I keep the hate, fear, and self-loathing going. I choose to stop the cycle. Louise Hay has great table calendars, which help change the way we talk to ourselves. I have multiple days posted on my bathroom mirror, and I have made lots of gifts for friends with the past days (I just can’t imagine throwing them out). I find working with them in creative ways helps to keep their messages present within myself.

I knew, I wasn’t going to find this kind of love in another person until I could start to be this for myself. This wasn’t a small task, it took a lot of unlearning. This is not an overnight project, the more walls we hold onto the longer the process takes. I already had a head start with the work I had been doing. The journey and discovery is well worth the time I put in.

“Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word. Make fair rules. Do the right thing. Work when it’s time.”

-Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Translation: Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, #8

Leave room for mistakes, because they leave us with more opportunities to grow from a loving place. Peace to ALL!

If you want to come on this journey with me, visit me on Facebook and/or follow my blog.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

10 Positive Lessons I Learned From my Parents

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“When you know and respect your own Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.”

-Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh p. 41

1. Life is not always a family-friendly T.V. show. I grew up in a time where all families on T.V. looked perfect. They handled problems with ease, there was no yelling, dads were around/available, and no mom ever wanted to pull every single hair out of her head. My house did NOT look like that. Chaos was our way of life. That is not to say there wasn’t good times. When my parents were still together, we had a lot of family adventures that made a positive impact on my life. As a mother, I have taken that tradition with me. Our family adventures have gotten us through some very dark times. We go on nature adventures at least every other week, if not more. I learned that no family is perfect and T.V. is edited for our entertainment.

2. Staying in a toxic relationship is NOT better for my children. When I was about 11, I remember getting in the middle of one of my parents arguments. My dad was talking to my mom like she was stupid. I couldn’t take it! I jumped in to defend my mother. My father belittled my mother often. My mom rarely stood up for herself. I have always been an outspoken person, so I did not understand why she didn’t defend herself. When I was around 12, things started to change. My mom began to find herself and her voice. The dynamic in our house changed drastically! My dad and her relationship couldn’t survive the new shift and they both moved on. What I realized much later is that a toxic relationship takes two people. It can’t be toxic if one person is healthy and the other is not. There wouldn’t be a relationship, if that was the case. That goes for all relationships, not just romantic ones.

After my parents were divorced, they both did A LOT of work on themselves. My dad found a woman who was a great fit for him. His relationship with her looked nothing like the one with my mom. He never talked to her in a disrespectful tone. She would have left him in a heartbeat. He presented himself in a whole different light. His tenderness came out and he was fun and playful. I loved going over to visit for family dinners. They were more like parties. My sister and his partner’s two daughters would have friends over and it was always a pleasure. My dad stayed in that relationship until his death, so for 21 years he had the partner that was a great fit for him and it made a huge difference.

My mom took much longer to find the man she would end up building a life with. She wasn’t bitter about it. She was happy on her own. She worked hard on herself and it was because of her that I learned that anything was possible.  I never had to be stuck where I was. When my stepdad came along, I was able to see her growth on a whole different level.

I unconsciously chose to repeat the pattern of being in a toxic relationship when I decided to get married. We set up unhealthy roles for each other and it could get very ugly. Instead of building each other up and being the strength when the other went down, we both would go down together. Logically, I knew better. I had the experience of watching two very healthy, but different relationships. Unfortunately, I hadn’t healed the little girl inside yet. I needed to live out the lesson. I stopped focusing on trying to fix him and I started working on myself. I got stronger, I  figured out and I figured out what was important to me. The dynamic changed and he was not interested in the changes. He flat out didn’t like them. I realized that I was showing our children the same pattern. I was teaching my son how to treat women and my daughter how to be treated by a man. Staying wouldn’t have been good for any of us. My kids get to see the examples of healthy relationships all around them now. They were much younger than I was when my parents divorced. I hope it makes a difference in their choices of relationships. If it doesn’t, I know it is because there is something they need to learn for themselves.

3. Lead by EXAMPLE! This step is not as simple as it may seem. I came from the, “Do as I say, not as I do” generation. My mom wanted my sister and I to be filled with the self-esteem that she never had. Unfortunately, in my early years I didn’t have an example of how a healthy self-esteem looked. I struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth most of my life. I did have an example of how to fake it, I mastered. I dabbled in the example of drinking to cover up my feelings, that did not work! I hated the way that I felt the next day. Hearing stories about what I did was not what I called fun either. I sampled the yelling and belittling your spouse example, I felt horrible and it went against everything I wanted in a relationship.

After I worked on myself enough to see how I contributed to my unhealthy relationships, I was able to follow a better example. I followed the example of both my parents’ current relationships. Now, I have a peaceful and enjoyable relationship that encourages me to always be the best me I can be. Living life this way has opened my eyes in so many ways.

My kids learn from my example EVERY day, for better or worse. Once I became aware of that fact, I can see it all over the place. When my daughter is in a grocery store, she can spot a person who needs a smile, help, or sometimes even a hug. When my son sees another child sad, he is the first one to be there for them, whether he is their friend or not. When I’m driving and an obnoxious driver puts my and their lives at risk… let’s just say, I need to work on that one a little bit. I also get impatient when I am in the middle of a project and my mind is in a million different places. I can see my kids take it out on each other when I’m struggling with my patience. Sometimes, I have silent temper tantrums and my daughter acts them out loud. The good, bad, and the ugly. I found my kids’ behaviors are a great mirror for me to look at my own.

4. The ONLY person I can change is myself. After years of watching my parents trying to change each other, then years of watching them change themselves, I saw the possibilities for a better life. I can be stubborn, so it took me a few times in the same classrooms to figure this one out. I used to love taking on people projects with the intention of changing them for the better. I’m so sorry to any of my friends or past relationships for this one. I get it now!! I do not know what the best answer is for someone else life. That is their job. If I’m asked for advice, I share from my experience, but I make it clear that a person needs to do what is best for them and only he/she has the final say on that one. We are all here learning, no one is perfect and we all have different lessons to live out in order to get us to where we are going. I wouldn’t want to wish some of my lessons on anyone, but I’m grateful for each of them.

My mom taught me that I can change myself at any moment and that it takes work. In order to change, I have to get rid of habits that don’t serve the life that I want to have. The more in-tune I am with myself, the better my life gets.

As a parent, I love being able to pass this on. It helps me so much when my kids are going through their life lessons with friends, family, and at school. Including, being apart of the new culture of education.  I do not except “I hate…”, “I can’t…”, or “It’s not me…”. I re-focus them on what they can change and how to come up with different ways to look at the situation to help them feel better about it. Does this method always work? No, I do the best I can. My goal is to plant the seed. When they are ready, it will be there.

5. Nobody can MAKE me feel anything! My mom learned this when I was 13! Do you know what that meant for how my teenage years looked? I couldn’t blame my mother for any of my feelings. That sucked! LOL. I had no idea at the time learning this would be the core of my empowerment. My feelings and actions are my own. I can choose to come at something from a loving place or a fearful place at any moment. I can even change my mind half way through, but it is my choice and my power! No one can take that away from me.

We practice this in my household daily. It can get downright comical especially when it’s me who gives another person the power over my feelings. I remember the first time my son said to me, “but Mom, I can’t make you feel anything.” He was right, as mad as I might be my anger is my choice. When I react from that place of hurt, it’s not productive for anyone. If I react from a place of love, positive change will follow.

6. Pedestals are DANGEROUS! Like most, my parents were the first people I put on pedestals. Putting them up there made them superhuman in my mind. When I got let down, they both fell. Through my life, I put all kinds of people up on those superhuman pedestals and one by one they all fell leaving me feeling lost. I’ve also watched other people put me on a pedestal and watched myself  fall so hard that I felt like death would be a better option than the disappointment that I caused somebody else. Nobody is perfect and deserves to be over another human being. We are all here to learn so it means we will all fall and get back up again a million times. I’m not better than anyone else for going through what I’ve been through, and I’m also not less than anyone else either.

I love looking at people I admire and strive to practice some of the skills they have mastered, but where they are strong in one area they may have weakness in others, just like the rest of us. I don’t expect any of the people I learn from to be perfect. I know I will get what I’m meant to get from them and then I will be off to the next lesson. I just like my internal garden to be full of seeds, that way when I need them to grow, I start doing the work to make those flowers bloom.

7. What’s right for me will not be what is right for someone else. When my parents found new partners their relationships were very different. My dad and his partner lived together for 21 years and never got married. I lovingly call her “My Other Mother”. They had a wonderful relationship and did things very differently from the way my mom and dad did. They worked and lived together. They were best friends in every way. They never spoke a harsh word to each other. They understood how to give each other their own space in a loving and productive way.

My mom and stepdad had a very fast courtship and were married within a year. They have been married for 19 years and they have a loving, romantic, and communicative relationship. Since I live with them, I get to see more than most. I have great respect for the way they communicate with each other and share their love.

These two relationships couldn’t be more different in certain ways, but they both have strong values and morals that make them work in successfully. Between these two examples, I have come to realize that it is important for me to make the choices that are best for me.  I also have learned that just because I don’t want a relationship with yelling and screaming, that doesn’t mean that it’s for me to judge relationships that like their passionate debates or fights.  Some of my friends love the making up process and that is their journey.

This doesn’t just pertain to relationships with people, it also covers career choices, educational paths, parenting methods, and overall living the life that I want to live.  The most important thing is that I’m clear about what I want and that I’m not putting my energy into the things that I don’t.

8. I AM a whole person all by myself! I learned this from my mom during her single years. She was single for about a decade after my parents got divorced. She got to the point where she had no problem being alone. If that was the life she was destined to have, she was happy with that. She wasn’t defined by anyone’s love for her. She was enjoying her journey as a single woman. She met my stepdad through a friend and their relationship bloomed quickly. Even as long as they have been together, she still has her own life too. Her self care is important to her, and he respects her space. He also has his own life and enjoys his time outside of their relationship.

My relationship looked nothing like that when I was married, and I resented it. We didn’t have a mutual respect for each other and when we did go out separately, we were both questioning what the other was doing. It was very sad. I had no idea that codependency was a large part of my problem. I was so focused on wanting him to have the best life, I stopped looking at my own. Then, I resented him for it. I was just as much responsible for setting up that dynamic as he was. When I realized my part of the responsibility, I made the necessary changes to take care of myself. After I left him, I was very happily single for about a year.

I have never had a problem being alone. I’m an extrovert with plenty of friends and family to keep me entertained for years to come. I was taking good care of myself when I started dating again, but I still had a ways to go before I was ready for a healthy relationship. I came to the point that I was 100% happy on my own, my life was not lacking in ANY way. My current relationship is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in, because I am the healthiest I have ever been. I still have plenty of room for growth opportunities, but it is so much better when there is a matching level of respect. I know that I am whole without him and that he is whole without me. We enjoy each other and everyday is an adventure.

9. Blaming others is a waste of my energy. I am who I am because of the lessons I’ve learned. There is no room for blame. My mom and dad did the best they could. I still was dealt some lessons that were painstakingly hard. I am here, I survived. Now, I have more to give because I didn’t let any of the them keep me down. I experienced what I needed to in order to be the person I am now.

Taking personal responsibility is key. I had to learn to question my part. I still struggle and I still face challenges. There is also a very fine line with taking personal responsibility and self-abusing. I used to hit myself with so many “bad me” bats that it could make a person’s head spin. It took me a long time to realize that blaming myself was just as much a waste of my energy as  blaming someone else.

I choose to follow examples of people who didn’t waste their time with blame.  We have so many powerful  figures in our history such as Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Theresa, and so many more living and dead.

10. It is not my business what other people think of me! My mom’s favorite things to say when referring to this is, “Oh well” or “whatever”. I love it now, I hated it as a teenager. She was a great example for me to NOT focus on doing things for someone else’s benefit. When I was a sales trainer, she had to talk me through many rough times when I was starting out. Eventually, I learned that some people will love me, hate me, or be indifferent to me. I will touch the lives I am meant to, in whatever way I’m meant to do it.

I have learned as much from the people who I let trigger  my anger and rage as I do from the people who I let trigger my love and compassion. Some people will love my voice and others will downright detest it. That’s ok, I will continue to live the life I do from a loving place.

Final note: Since this is a blog, I know I just grazed the surface on the lessons I learned. If you want to hear more about a particular topic, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to expand my thoughts in another blog.

From a Loving Place Introduction

The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.

-Byron Katie, Hope Beneath Our Feet p. 190

Hi, my name is Rachael. I am a single mother approaching 40 (and I mean within months). I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years earning my degree in Human Development. In my first course in college I read the quote above ,and I felt like I finally learned the secret to an abundant life. I have one of those pasts that gives a long lists of reasons to be miserable, but I have chosen to not let my past to be in vain.

My life has been a series of lessons that have strengthened me and made me who I am now. My past has helped me show compassion and understanding for others who are having a hard time finding their way. It has given me space to be less judgmental and remember what it is like to struggle. Overall, my past has made me a better person. This is because I do not let shame and guilt way me down. This was a process and it cannot happen overnight. I had a friend once brought my attention to the fact that it took me over thirty years to get sick of my warped way of thinking. It takes time to undue patterns that I have survived on and built walls with. I need to take down the walls one brick at a time.

Why did I decide to write a blog? One, I want to stay on the right track. By writing, I will keep reminding myself of how blessed my life has become because of all my realizations. Two, if there is even one person out there that my journey helps, then I am fulfilling my purpose. Lastly, I love to write. I plan on sharing not only the things that have worked to make my life better, but also my darkness and how I let it stop dragging me down. I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, when I am feeling alone reading about tools to get me out of it, I can sometimes feel more alone. Logically, I know what to do and how to get me out of the chaos. The problem is that when we are down in it, logic does not apply. The connection from our emotions to logic has a short. No matter how much I have learned, I can always get to that place, and no one should feel alone there.

This blog is about how I save myself and my journey to show up to life from a loving place.