Embracing Positive Experiences

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to remember the bad stuff than the good? It’ss because the brain is wired that way, naturally gravitating towards negativity. But here’s the thing: dwelling on the negative can lead to stress, depression, and anxiety.

The good news is that you have the power to change that. Mindfulness is that secret weapon that can help you train your brain to focus on the positive, boost your mood and make you more resilient. By embracing positive experiences and pushing aside the negative, you can transform your life for the better.

Shifting your focus from negative to positive may feel unfamiliar, require effort, or seem time-consuming. Yet, even amidst life’s chaos, you can start small. Practice mindfulness, be aware of your thoughts, and try these simple tips to kickstart your journey toward positivity.

Turn Your Victories Into a Celebration

Acknowledge and applaud yourself for accomplishments, big or small. 

Keep a meticulous to-do list, and revel in the joy of checking off each task, no matter how mundane. Remember to include even the little things you might have once overlooked, like savoring a healthy snack or simply stepping outside. Every achievement counts.

 Remember, it’s these small wins that pave the path to a more positive and fulfilling life.

Accept Compliments Gracefully 

Accepting compliments with grace is an art that can brighten your day and strengthen relationships. Saying ‘thank you’ not only acknowledges their kindness but also fosters a sense of mutual connection. This connection benefits both you and the giver by creating positive energy in the interaction.  

Make it a point to rehearse your ‘thank you’ in your mind, and the next time you receive a compliment, seize the chance to say ‘thank you’ and keep the cycle of kindness going.

Embrace Nature’s Serenity 

Find solace in contemplative moments connected to nature and let yourself savor the beauty of the present. Because in nature’s embrace, you’ll discover the art of just being and finding peace in the simplicity of the moment.

Sometimes, all you need is a hug from nature that ensures you get that daily dose of tranquility and positivity.


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Small Acts – Big Impact

Have you ever done something nice for someone else “just because”? It wasn’t to repay them or because you had to, it was simply because you wanted to. 

Well, then, you’ve done a random act of kindness. They are those unexpected, selfless deeds that bring joy and positivity to others without expecting anything in return. 

Kindness is like a universal language, and it’s one of the most valued character strengths in our society. You are naturally drawn to kind-hearted people, and as it turns out, being kind not only brightens someone else’s day but also enhances your well-being. 

From selfless gestures to acts of generosity, get ready to be inspired to sprinkle more kindness into your life as you uncover the secrets to making the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time. 

Practice the Attitude of Gratitude 

In a fast-paced world, pausing to show gratitude reminds people of the beauty in their connections. It’s a way of saying, ‘You matter, and I appreciate you just as you are.’ 

It isn’t just a feeling; it’s a powerful force that deepens connections and spreads positivity. So, go ahead and send that heartfelt message, make that call, or write that note of thanks.

Be Respectful and Celebrate Goodness

Being respectful is all about treating every person you meet with kindness and respect, no matter who they are or where they come from. It’s a reminder that we’re all part of the same human family. 

And don’t stop there. Acknowledge and celebrate the positive actions of others – from a heartfelt “thank you” to a simple nod of appreciation, these gestures can brighten someone’s day and inspire more acts of kindness.  

Gift Your Time

You can make a positive change in someone’s life by simply offering your time.

Whether lending an empathetic ear to a friend in need or dedicating hours to volunteer at a local charity your time can be just what they need! 

So make the world a brighter, kinder place – one shared second at a time.

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Connected Loneliness

By: Christina Bein   

Have you grown up observing that talking about feelings are reserved for a certain range of emotions? Humans are born with the ability to express a set of primary emotions in their early life. This includes joy, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust. All emotions can be linked back to these primary ones (see emotions wheel). In a lot of societies, it’s appropriate and easier to talk about feelings linked to joy, surprise, and disgust. It’s acceptable to share happiness and celebrate with someone. It’s OK to feel surprised about something unexpected. It’s also somewhat more normalized to say when something is displeasing. 

These are surface level experiences that society is comfortable acknowledging. When it comes to the other primary emotions, it becomes harder to share. This makes it more difficult to be authentic. It also makes it challenging for people to learn to understand, how to be empathetic, and hold space for what is perceived as “uncomfortable” emotions.

In many cultures the feelings of fear, sadness, and anger are taught to be repressed. This makes it harder to be connected to one’s genuine and vast range of responses to life. 

Generally viewing history, the aforementioned repressed feelings were associated with weakness (not valued to help with survival) and has generationally been pervasive as teachings through the greater expanse of lineages. The following generations interpret how they are not welcomed or given a safe space to talk about what they are struggling with, or that their feelings are just “too much.” This creates disconnect and loneliness.

The feeling of loneliness coupled with negative thoughts builds the idea that no one can understand that we do not want to burden others with this struggle. It leads to isolation. 

When a person is alone with a persistent negative narrative it can start to seem like no one can help. This negative thought loop is like running in a hamster wheel. It goes nowhere productive, just stuck and suspended in one place that feels terrible. The way through loneliness and despair is to get unstuck from that hamster wheel, to reach out for a lifeline. Talking to someone else that is trustworthy and can kindly hold space for feelings is a great resource to interrupt the negative thought loop. 

Effort is a required initiative in making social connections, and positive relationships are an effective aspect of overcoming depression.

It’s OK to Ask for Help

Not everyone may be well equipped to hold space for the myriad of human experiences, but there are trained people who can be helpful. Here’s a start on where to find them. Explore options to seek support from a mental health therapist. It’s great to start with your insurance provider to find in-network providers. Or explore local agencies and practices to see if they are accepting new clients or sign up to be on their waitlist.

Call or Text 988 to reach the Suicide Prevention Hotline

It’s a 24/7 service with trained crisis counselors to provide compassionate support.

Walk-in Crisis Clinics

Portland, OR: Cascadia Urgent Walk-In Clinic. It’s open 7 days a week, Monday-Friday

from 7am to 9pm. Saturday-Sunday from 9am-9pm.

Located at 4212 SE Division, Suite 100, Portland, OR 97206. Call at (503) 963-2575.

Eugene, OR: Hourglass Community Crisis Center. It’s open 24 hours a day from Monday-

Friday and 8am-12am from Saturday-Sunday.

Located at 2443, 71 Centennial Loop suite a, Eugene, OR 97401. Call at (541) 505-8426.

Both offer mental health crisis care from trained professionals that can also connect people with further needed supportive services.

Become familiar with your local mental health Mobile Crisis Services like:

Portland, OR: Project Respond | 503-988-4888

Eugene, OR: CAHOOTS | (541) 682-5111

Trained crisis mental health professionals go out into the community, to the location of the distressed person in need of supportive mental health services. This is also a service that people can call to support someone they care about.

Inpatient hospitalization for mental or behavioral health:

Portland, OR: Unity Behavioral Health. Open 24/7.

Located at 1225 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232. Call at (503) 944-8000.

Eugene, OR: Inpatient Behavioral Health at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center

University District. Open 24/7.

Located at 770 E 11th Avenue Eugene, OR 97401. Call at (458) 205-7013.

Voluntary inpatient hospitalization for mental health crisis, especially when one is at risk of hurting oneself.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP):

Is a short-term and therapeutic psychiatric treatment program that functions within a group setting to support safety, stability, and helpful coping.

Several hospitals provide IOP services. It would be beneficial to check with your insurance provider to see which program location would be in-network. Otherwise, contact your local hospital or medical clinic for program inquiry.

You don’t have to be alone. Explore how you can get connected.

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U.S. Suicides Hit All-Time High in 2022

By: Betsy Pownall

Three weeks ago the Center for Disease Control posted the number of completed suicides in the United States in 2022. About 49,500 people took their lives last year, the highest number in our history. It is suggested that the United States suicide rate is “more common in the U.S. than at any time since the dawn of World War II”.

Suicide is complicated and a range of factors are driving the rates up, such as depression and availability of mental health services. The nation’s gun suicide rate was the highest last year, and for the first time, Black teen suicide rates surpassed white teens, researchers at Johns Hopkins Unviversity discovered.

The largest increases are in adults, ages 45-65 and more than 8% in people 65 and older. White men, in particular, have high rates. The CDC is expanding a suicide program to fund more prevention in communities through schools and community agencies.

There has been more than an 8% drop in suicides in people ages 10-24 in 2022, which could be because of the increased attention being paid to youth and adolescent mental health.

Read the article here: US suicides hit an all-time high last year – AP News

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September is “Recovery Month

By: Tanya Kramer 

The word “recovery” is a broad term.  This next list is focusing on podcasts and books that help individuals better understand addiction, how to reframe addiction, and opportunities to listen to meaningful stories from people who are in recovery.

  • Podcast Recovery Elevator – Quit Drinking Now with Paul Churchill. This was a recommendation from someone who was early in their recovery.  Upon listening to the podcast, I appreciated how each episode presents the story of a different person’s journey from addiction to recovery.  I see this as a valuable resource for people in any stage of addiction to hear that someone going through their similar experience was able to work toward and be in recovery.  I think this podcast can give hope, the type of hope someone might get from an AA meeting when listening to a speaker’s story.  So, if someone is not comfortable trying an AA meeting, this might be a place to start or supplement with AA.
  • Podcast How to be Reframable with Kevin Ballack  and Reframe app. I first noticed this on social media and appreciated the visuals used to help reframe lifestyle choices.  The podcast is new (April 2023) and it highlights the “Reframe” app which has been around for a couple years.  The podcast shares stories of recovery, provides coaching for recovery, psychoeducation, and folds in tools such as journal questions to think or write about.  The Reframe app can help individuals evaluate their relationship with alcohol and make decisions around managing or changing drinking choices.  Both the app and the podcast use science to tell the story of the impacts of alcohol on the body and the mind.  The Reframe Model encourages people to “embrace a compassionate approach to change”.  This podcast talks to people who are using the “Reframe Tools” to change their relationship with alcohol.  I really was impressed by the visuals and for this reason alone, I see this as a unique resource for those reconsidering their relationship with alcohol.
  • Book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction” with Gabor Mate, MD. I have a dear friend I have known for almost 20 years who has been in recovery for that same amount of time.  This person helped me understand how difficult addiction is and how much healing has come within recovery.  This person told me that reading this book by Gabor Mate’ was the first time they felt like a professional who speaks about addiction “really gets it”.  Of course I was intrigued and picked up the book for myself.  It is a beautifully written book holding all individuals with deep compassion and understanding, knowing how people often use substances to cope with suffering.  The book shares many salient stories of addiction, recovery, and mental health.  Gabor Mate’ has a way of acknowledging the human within the disease and provides his perspective of compassionate care to those struggling with addiction. 
  • Quit Lit (Literature) – There are a number of websites where you can find this genre of books by women about quitting drinking, such as:

Best Sobriety Audiobooks For Women 

The Best Quit Lit Books For Women Going Alcohol Free

Quit Lit

If you examine each of these lists, there are a number of books that keep showing up.  I have referred clients exploring their drinking patterns to these book lists and I have heard positive feedback on a number of these titles.  I might specifically recommend “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace (who also has a podcast called the Naked Mind), “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker, and “Sober Curious” by Ruby Warrington.  I appreciate the approach of being strength based and some of the approaches used in these books bring in the history of drinking and how for women it was initially a sign of empowerment.  I recognize how confusing that might be to someone with a drinking problem, but sometimes understanding the false social construct can help provide clarity that there are other things at play when struggling.  One book helps readers refocus on their life priorities to see if drinking fits or not when prioritizing life goals.  I recommend this genre of books because of the different approaches each author takes and my hope in sharing this is that readers will find a book that speaks to them and meets them exactly where they are in their own “sober curious” journey.

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Discover the Secrets to Reignite Your Motivation

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“Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change.”

Everyone is driven by goals and ambitions, but motivation is the driving force that shapes your path. It’s that invisible push that either nudges you closer to your dreams or leaves you stranded in the sea of complacency. 

Let’s delve deep into the heart of what makes you tick: Intrinsic motivation! It’s the force that entices you to immerse yourself in an endeavour for the sheer joy of it, to find fulfillment in the process, and to relish every step of your journey.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how some individuals stay consistently driven, even when the going gets tough, this exploration into intrinsic motivation is your key. Unravel its mysteries, explore its applications, and learn how to tap into this wellspring of self-propelled determination.  

Discover What Drives You

Ever wondered what makes your heart race with excitement, even when no one’s watching? It’s time to dive into the world of passions—the kind that makes you forget about rewards and recognition. Think about those activities that light you up from within, the ones you’d pursue just because they make you happy. 

Get ready to venture into uncharted territory, explore new hobbies, and make time for the things that leave you brimming with happiness. It’s time to embrace the magic of doing what you love simply because you love it.  

Master Your Goals and Craft a Success Culture

Setting goals is more than just a pursuit; it’s about chasing ones that resonate with your core values. Imagine goals that guide your path and are meaningful, realistic, and not perfect. 

Also, remember to set your space for success. Your ideal work environment shapes your success, whether it’s music, isolation, or peer support. Trust your instincts and create a space that fosters productivity and enthusiasm. 

Remember, your optimal performance culture is where you flourish, so take one purposeful step at a time and embrace the power of chasing your own rules.

Always Strive For Growth

When you embrace the growth mindset, you’re no longer confined by limits or held back by doubts. Instead, you become the architect of your own growth, building new skills and capabilities with every step you take. 

By shifting your focus from end results to the thrill of learning and refining, you ignite a fire of intrinsic motivation that propels you forward.  

This transformational mindset is a secret weapon that boosts your intrinsic motivation, a recognition that success is not a fixed destination but a continuous, ever-evolving journey.

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How to Speak Mindfully: The Key to Positive Communication

By incorporating mindfulness principles into your communication, you could forge deeper connections, strengthen relationships, and nurture your mental well-being. 

From nurturing qualities like forgiveness and gratitude to enhancing your leadership skills, meaningful relationships, and community bonds – we’re here to help you unlock the full potential of mindful communication.

Discover the secrets to active listening, the magic of being present in the moment, and the profound impact these practices can have on your interactions. 

 Unlock the Power of Gratitude and Forgiveness 

Embracing these emotions isn’t just an act of kindness towards others; it’s a soulful gift you give yourself. By appreciating the beauty in your life and releasing the weight of resentments, you create a vibrant canvas of positivity.

You can start by penning down your daily gratitudes in a journal – a simple act that can spark a transformation. As you cultivate this practice, watch your heart bloom with emotional balance and resilience, and the clouds of depressive thoughts gradually disperse. 

Remember, the key to unlocking these treasures lies in their impact on others and in the profound way they enrich your existence.

Master the Art of Self-Compassion

Learning the art of self-accountability and compassion is an ongoing, transformative process.

When disagreements arise, remember the power of compassion in your interactions. Even when your opinions differ, take a moment to understand their feelings, beliefs, and perspectives while valuing your own.

Also, remember that compassion starts within. So, before reaching out to others, explore your internal dialogue. How you treat yourself shapes your outlook, influencing your connections with the world.

Now, embark on a journey of understanding for others and yourself. 

Remember to Apologize 

With so many human interactions, misunderstandings are bound to happen. What doesn’t affect you deeply might touch someone else’s heart profoundly. But just because something seems harmless to you doesn’t mean it feels the same way to others.

Apologies are the bridges that mend the connections you cherish. So, if you’ve inadvertently stirred up waves or stepped on toes, be ready to apologize. It’s not about who’s right or wrong; it’s about nurturing the seas of communication, ensuring they remain calm, respectful, and open.

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How The Beach Can Support Your Mental Health

Sandcastles, crashing waves, and the smell of salty air—it’s an instant recipe for relaxation. But have you ever wondered what makes the beach such an excellent place for mental health? Well, let’s spill the seashell secrets! 

Water, sun, and air – all of these natural elements offer some form of mental health benefits that help the mind unwind and create the perfect backdrop for social gatherings. So, whether you’re a sunbather, a sandcastle architect, or simply someone who enjoys the serenity of the shore, there’s science behind that beachy bliss. 

Breathe In, Bliss Out

Turns out, fresh air isn’t just good for your lungs—it’s a secret elixir for your mind and soul too! It’s time to wave goodbye to stuffy indoor spaces and unlock the magic of the beach. 

Researchers have uncovered that outdoor activities have a more potent impact on mental health than indoor ones. That daily jog through the park or a leisurely stroll on the beach could be your shortcut to a happier mind. From birds chirping to the waves crashing on the shore, every moment spent outdoors is an opportunity to soak in positive vibes.

Now, swap your office desk for a picnic blanket, or bring your yoga mat to the garden for an invigorating session of downward dogs!

Embrace The Zen Life By The Shore 

The beach isn’t just for sunbathing and sandcastles—it’s a mindfulness playground!  

The sand, the sun, the waves – it’s all a reminder of Earth’s touch. Wiggle your toes into the sand, let the golden spotlight shine on your skin, and embark on a mindfulness adventure with the ocean’s lullaby.

Each scene, each sensation—it’s an invitation to be fully present.

Enjoy Sun, Sand, And Team Spirit 

Volleyball, football, soccer – you name it, the beach has it. And guess what? These games aren’t just about scoring points; they’re about building connections too. High-fives after a great play, shared laughs during a friendly match – these moments are more than just fun; they’re building blocks for new connections.

Bring your A-game, and don’t forget your sunscreen – you’re about to have the time of your life and create unforgettable memories!

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Supporting Friends With Their Mental Health

In life, we often rely on our friends to support us during challenging times. But what happens when a friend vanishes, leaving you to wonder what went wrong? 

Friendships can profoundly impact your mental well-being, and having a reliable and supportive friend during difficult times can be a lifeline. However, when your friend faces significant mental health challenges like hearing voices, experiencing panic, or holding unusual beliefs, know how to show up for them. 

In this blog, explore a simple list of ways that offer valuable insights on being there for a struggling friend. With these meaningful ways – you can provide support, compassion, and friendship during their journey to wellness. 

Ready to foster a strong friendship that can weather any storm? 

Acknowledge Your Friend’s Core Identity

Supporting a friend going through a mental health crisis can be challenging and rewarding. 

It is crucial to remember that despite any changes in their behaviour, they are still the same person, and although mental illness may impact their actions, it doesn’t alter the essence of who they are. 

Being there for them as you always have, engaging in activities together, and maintaining a sense of normalcy can mean the world to them during this difficult time.  

Lastly, patience and compassion go a long way, so having a non-judgmental and supportive approach can send a reassuring message that they are not alone in their journey to recovery.

Stay By Their Side and Offer Help

During a mental health crisis, it’s crucial not to leave your friend alone. While you may not have all the answers, your presence and support can provide comfort and reassurance. Remember, you don’t need to resolve the crisis yourself, but being there can make a significant difference.

Also, providing your friend with essential resources can make a significant difference if your friend is struggling with thoughts of suicide or needs immediate assistance; share helplines and mental health resources. Normalizing seeking help and guiding your friend to the right support networks can be crucial to their recovery and well-being.

 Offer Them a Listening Ear 

Your willingness to be there and hear your friend out can mean a lot to them. Even if you can’t fully grasp their struggles, showing support will let them know they are not alone.

But also remember, your role as a friend differs from that of a therapist. It’s okay to listen and validate their experiences, but if your friend needs professional help, encourage them to seek assistance from mental health providers. Your support as a friend can be significant, but leave the therapeutic expertise to trained professionals.

Avoid Dismissing Their Experiences 

Mental health difficulties can be confusing and disorienting, making it challenging for your friend to distinguish between different emotions and thoughts. Take their ideas seriously, validate their feelings, and tell them that their voice matters to you. This validation can provide a sense of reassurance and help them feel heard and respected. 

Every person’s emotions and thoughts are valid, regardless of their mental health status. Just show your friend that you genuinely care about their perspectives and feelings.

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From Lost to Found: How to Find Yourself in Your 20s

Welcome to the exhilarating world of your 20s!

This transformative phase of life is filled with endless possibilities and opportunities for growth. It’s a time when you embark on the journey of self-discovery, navigate through the twists and turns, build meaningful relationships, and make important life decisions. 

But as you navigate through the pressures and uncertainties that come with this pivotal decade, it’s crucial to stay grounded, accept change, prioritize self-care, and trust in your own journey. 

Whether finding your purpose, building resilience, cultivating healthy relationships, or embracing change, buckle up and get ready to dive into the exciting self-discovery journey ahead!

Don’t Stress About Your 5-Year Plan

We’ve all looked back at our high school years and wished we had made different choices. But guess what? The same goes for our 20s! 

Instead of getting caught up in the what-ifs and maybes, focus on the present moment. This is your time to shine, explore, and build a rock-solid relationship with the most crucial person in your life—yourself!

So, dive headfirst into the glorious chaos of your 20s. It’s time to make memories, embrace uncertainty, make bold choices, and create a future you’ll look back on with pride.    

Express Yourself and Let Your Words Be Heard 

Remember, you have the right to be heard, respected, and valued. So speak up, and let your authentic voice shine.  

Your thoughts, feelings, and opinions matter, and expressing them is vital to your personal journey. Always remember to establish clear boundaries to protect your mental and emotional well-being.

Now take charge of your mental and emotional well-being by defining what is acceptable, and don’t hesitate to assert those boundaries and stand up for yourself.

Live Life On Your Terms 

Your story is one-of-a-kind, filled with twists and turns. So embrace every chapter, the highs and the lows, and everything in between.

If it doesn’t light your fire, break free! Who cares what others think? It’s your life, your rules, and your time to shine. Step out of that line and dance to the beat of your own heart.

Lastly, don’t chase money – it isn’t the ultimate prize! Instead, seek something far more significant—truth, meaning, and fulfillment. Find joy in the simple things, follow your passions, and let your heart guide you to a life rich with purpose.

Trust The Process

Patience is the name of the game! All your dreams won’t magically come true overnight, so embrace the journey and trust that everything will fall into place in due time.

Take every opportunity to learn, explore, and step out of your comfort zone. Experience the lessons that come your way, even with a few bumps and bruises, for they are shaping you into the amazing person you’re destined to become.

It’s also okay to take risks and make mistakes along the way. That’s how you learn and grow. So, hand tight – enjoy the adventure, seize the opportunities, and keep believing in yourself. 

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3 Ways to Power-Up Your Productivity

Do you ever find yourself wishing for more hours in the day? Longing to accomplish your goals with ease and efficiency?

We’ve all been there. You have a list of tasks to tackle, responsibilities to fulfill, and goals to achieve. Yet you convince yourself that a quick phone check won’t hurt. Little do you know, you’re about to embark on a journey down the rabbit hole. 

Whether it’s diving into your email, getting caught up in social media, or aimlessly scrolling the internet, time slips away unnoticed. Suddenly, you wonder where the day has vanished, burdened by unfinished tasks multiplied in your absence. The fleeting satisfaction derived from these distractions soon turns into lingering disappointment or anxiety as unfinished tasks accumulate!

Ready to take control of your time like a productivity superhero and avert the pitfalls of distraction?  Then keep reading as we unveil these steps toward a more productive existence.

Outsmart the Sneaky Rabbit Hole

Oh, the underestimated time you spend in these vortexes!

To unlock the path to productivity, first, acknowledge the existence of the rabbit hole. Despite its seemingly obvious nature, this deceptive phenomenon holds more power over you than meets the eye.  

Start noticing what lures you astray and how much precious time it swallows. Observe your patterns and embrace the power of purposeful attention and shine a spotlight on distraction 

Channel Your Inner Compassionate Coach

Picture yourself as a superhero of self-improvement, equipped with a secret weapon—the firm hand of self-compassion! 

It’s like having a caring parent, a wise mentor, and a cheerleading coach all rolled into one. Stepping into this role for yourself and harnessing this superpower can help nudge you toward choices that promote long-term well-being while helping you avoid pesky unhelpful habits. 

Visualize Your Day

Even before you step out of bed, you have the power to shape your day. 

See yourself gracefully navigating potential rabbit holes, effortlessly prioritizing what matters to you, and taking decisive action. Feel the excitement and satisfaction as if you’ve already conquered the day. Now, rise and shine, knowing you’ve set the stage for greater awareness and intentionality.

Now bring your intentional action plan to life and experience the joy of being the director of your masterpiece!

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Healthy Connection Starts With Healthy Boundaries

By: Tanya Kramer

Healthy connection should be the goal for all of our essential relationships; however, sometimes, that is easier said than done. 

So, where does someone start when meeting a new person or wanting to improve on an already existing relationship?  

In order to know how to do this, we will cover the following topics:

  • What are healthy boundaries
  • How to set boundaries
  • How to hold boundaries (sometimes the most challenging part)

How do you know if you have healthy boundaries with another person?  

Here are some clues that you are on the right track:

  • Personal boundaries are clear
  • You know who you are and what you want and need
  • Treat yourself with respect and others with respect
  • Able to say “yes” or “no” without guilt, fear, or anger
  • Refuse to tolerate abuse or disrespect
  • Have a strong sense of personal identity
  • Take responsibility when appropriate
  • Know when a problem is yours or belongs to the other person
  • Have empathy, but also recognize the limits of our support in some situations
  • Know the difference between giving support and being in a codependent relationship
  • Belonging versus fitting in

There are several different types of boundaries to consider, along with their definitions: 

  • Emotional Boundaries – to be treated with respect
  • Physical Boundaries – personal space, which at a basic level is at our skin, but also our “bubble” area we need around us to be comfortable (Note – this can be different for different people based on culture and/or family dynamics)
  • Relational Boundaries – knowing who the people are whom you have a high level of trust with (may include family, partner, trusted friends, etc.)
  • Sexual Boundaries – to have all experiences be one where there is consent and appropriate maturation for both partners
  • Social or Cultural Boundaries – to respect aspects of other cultures (how people greet, level of eye contact, physical space, etc.)
  • Material Boundaries – to have your personal items respected and to respect other people’s items

What are some of the red flags where improvement in boundaries might be necessary?

Some people have experiences which include harm, trauma, or a lack of close relationships, which can result in some people having rigid / inflexible boundaries.

Here are some ways these rigid/inflexible boundaries might show up in relationships:

  • Rigid metaphorical “walls” between you and others
  • Avoid intimacy by staying busy, picking fights, and/or avoiding people in general
  • Refuse to share personal information with Someone who has earned your trust
  • Fear of abandonment, suffocation in relationships, and/or avoid close relationships
  • Struggles with loneliness, low self-esteem, distrust, anger, and/or control
  • Difficulty identifying your wants, needs, and feelings
  • Fear of being hurt, vulnerable, or taken advantage of
  • Saying “no” if requests involve close interactions with others

Other people have experiences where they have learned they have to self-sacrifice their needs and emotional safety to be seen and cared for. These people may cope with these difficult experiences by having loose boundaries.

Here are some ways these loose boundaries might show up in relationships:

  • Personal boundaries become weak or nonexistent
  • Saying “yes” to all requests because you fear rejection and/or abandonment
  • Tolerating abuse and/or disrespectful treatment
  • Feel that you deserve to be treated poorly
  • No sense of who you are or what you feel, need, want, and think
  • Focus on pleasing those around you
  • Take on the feelings of those around you
  • Constantly self-sacrifice your needs for others

Now that you have this information about boundaries, how do you start setting and holding boundaries?

  • Start with one person whom you hope to have a better relationship with because they matter to you.
  • Decide what is the boundary you want to set
  • Communicate the boundary to the person clearly and kindly, ideally during a calm (not triggering) moment.
  • If a person pushes on or disrespects the boundary you have set, remind them of the boundary (Repeat)
  • If the person continues not to respect the boundary, then decide how long you are willing to remind them of the boundary before you set a new, more protective boundary for yourself (choosing to not talk to them about a specific topic, not helping with a specific task, not seeing the person for a while, limiting contact, or fully cutting off the person depending on what is appropriate for the situation).
  • Communicate to the person what will happen if they continue not to respect your boundary (name the action or consequence you plan to take)

Setting and holding boundaries is HARD. However, most people will respect your boundaries if we are clear on what they are early in the relationship.

Once you know how to set and hold boundaries, it is often easier to use this skill with new people because they will either respect your boundaries (WIN) or not (Still a WIN, because then you know not to continue to put effort into the relationship).

When you decide to set healthy boundaries within relationships, it helps you learn who you can and can’t trust.

You can use this helpful equation to assess who to trust and who not to trust within relationships:

 TIME + EXPERIENCE = To Trust Someone or Not to Trust Someone (actions often speak louder than words)

The benefit of having healthy connections with health boundaries is that you can move through your life with more ease knowing the people close to you trust, love, and respect you in both words and actions. Healthy connections with healthy boundaries result in less anxiety and energy expended on worrying about relationships. Healthy connections with healthy boundaries result in feeling like you belong in your relationships versus trying to fit in. The result of healthy boundaries is worth the work!

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