Mirror, Mirror

I have a dozen ugly thoughts a day about my appearance.
Every single day. To be honest, that is more an underestimate than an exaggeration.


I rarely talk about this, but not for the reasons you might think. Obviously, it’s not because I don’t have those thoughts and emotions (see above). It’s also not because I’m being mindful of my words or because of my commitment to loving myself. I wish it were. I don’t talk about them because I don’t want anyone to know how I am really feeling about myself.

It’s one of my biggest failures. When I was younger, the failure was that I hadn’t achieved the perfect body. Now that I’m older, the failure is one of mindset that I haven’t been able to eradicate those thoughts and feelings.

My story is just a version of every story.
There was the initial wound. I can remember exactly where I was standing on the playground when it was said to me, “You have such a big butt.” What I heard was… your physical human form is wrong, something you will never be able to change about yourself, you will never be right in this world, God screwed up on you.

It was just a sentence but in that moment, something happened inside me. A ledger appeared. “You have such a big butt” was written on the first line of the first page. I had been given a “truth” about myself that I didn’t know before and it could never be unknown. Over the decades, that ledger has been filled by page after page of evidence of that truth. Sure, there are some entries that came in from the outside world just like that first one did, but they are only a tiny fraction of a percent of what has been logged in that ledger. Most of the entries are mine. They are all of the ways I’ve reinforced that message I got on the playground through dozens of ugly thoughts every day.

I could have really used some help with this, but I learned very early in the game that skinny girls are not supposed to talk about feeling fat and pretty girls are not supposed to say they feel ugly or disgusting. At best, someone who loves you will dismiss your feelings and reassure you it’s not true. At worst, the world will be downright cruel and reaffirm your fear that you have no right talking about or even feeling that way. I felt wrong in how I looked AND wrong in how I felt about it.

Not much has changed.
Intellectually and theoretically, I know different. But the thoughts and emotions still arise for me. And that is where I get stuck.

I have this incorrect belief that everything of value I have created and want to share with you is completely voided out by this failure. If I can’t master this, what business do I have talking about any kind of personal development? The hiding of what is really happening inside of me feels like a deception. I don’t want anyone who reads, listens to, or learns from what I put into the world to know what a colossal failure the creator is. But keeping that secret feels like a total lack of authenticity.

So there it is.

We all have that area we struggle in.
For a lot of people I work with, it is relationships. For others, it is money or mental illness or all of the above. Turns out that (one of) mine is loving my physical self. Part of what helps me is coming clean about my struggle, exposing myself to others so that I feel authentic. Giving myself permission to have those thoughts and feelings without judging them as wrong.

Here is what I want you to know. Whatever secret thoughts and feelings you have all day every day that make you feel like a failure are not wrong. In fact, they are perfectly okay. Find someone to share them with who will help you feel like you are normal and right as rain just the way you are.

Because it is true.


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The Power of Virtual Community

I’ve spent the last couple of years building communities on Facebook.
Most of them have been temporary. They were put in place as support for people going through my 21-Day Heart Cleanse. They’ve been really amazing groups of (mostly) women with the courage to be vulnerable, honest, and best of all, loving to each another. It’s because of those groups that I was inspired to create a more permanent community with ongoing access to that same kind of love and support.

Gilded Hearts is one of my proudest creations and probably the thing I’m most excited about. But I can’t take all the credit. The brilliant people in the group are what make it so special. I’m honored to be a part of their lives.

Everybody needs a safe place to be accepted and loved AS IS. Period.
If you’ve got this going on in your life already, celebrate what a blessing that is. For those of you who don’t, I want to share the five main things I’ve tried to model as a way to cultivate our community.

1. We will keep your secrets.
What happens in Gilded Hearts stays in Gilded Hearts. Your shares are confidential and we will honor you by holding them dear.

2. We will not judge you.
Our job is to love you through all your actions and through all the things that happen to you. We are here so you can say the things you can’t share with your spouse, sister, or best friend. You don’t have to worry about us passing judgment. You don’t have to worry about how your share makes us feel. You get to be you, completely unfiltered.

3. We will show up for you.
No crickets allowed. If you post it, we will come. It may take a minute for us to respond, but we show up for each other no matter what.

4. We believe in you.
Even when, no especially when, you can’t believe in yourself. We trust that you know the answers. At the end of the day, you are the one who has to sort yourself out, take the actions, and be the change in your life. That being said, we will be there to brainstorm with you, share resources with you, validate you, cheer you on, and hold you accountable if you want us to. When all is said and done though, we know you’ve got this.

5. We will learn beside you.
In a nutshell, we are students of ourselves. The only way to make consistent personal growth is to actively engage in the examination, awareness, and understanding of who we are. We share ourselves with each other as a way to connect and help each other grow.

Truthfully, most relationships don’t have all five of those things in place. Wouldn’t it be great if they did? We’d all be walking around feeing seen, accepted, and loved.

Don’t feel bad if your partnerships are falling short. Totally normal! But with a little mindfulness, you can begin to nudge them in the right direction by starting with yourself. Here’s a little quiz to figure out how you’re doing in a relationship…

Am I keeping their secrets?
Am I accepting them without judgment?
Am I showing up when they need me?
Am I confident they know how to thrive?
Am I committed to growing beside them?

If you answered no to any of those, that’s information. It points you in the direction of your work.

If you know you need a community like this in your life and you want to know more about Gilded Hearts, send me a quick email (stacy@stacyrocklein.com) and I will tell you all about it.

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Worthy with failure

The biggest F word of my life has been Failure.
Up until recently, I treated that word the way some people treat the other F word. When it came to myself, I NEVER said it.

In the first part of my adult life, I didn’t say it because it just wasn’t an option for me. Being driven by accomplishment and achievement, failure was the ultimate worse-case scenario. On some unconscious level, it didn’t seem survivable. But I was never really worried about it, because I had an unwavering belief that with enough hard work toward reasonable goals it would never catch me.

Once I began coaching, I started to acknowledge that sometimes things don’t work out the way people want. I still wouldn’t use that word though. It became all about “learning opportunity” rather than failure. It was simply a chance to make corrections and pivot toward a new course of action.

That all sounds healthy and wonderful, but I’ve recently discovered a problem in that way of thinking. By polishing it up, I never acknowledged the emotions that come with failure. And it makes sense because in my inner world, success and value were what made me worthy of love, so failure meant I wasn’t worthy of love. No wonder I protected myself by avoiding the word.

It wasn’t like those feelings of failure weren’t there though. Even as I seemed to gloss right over the top of those feelings of doom, they were really just stuffed way down to where they couldn’t surface.

I’m forcing myself to use the F word these days.
I want to allow myself to feel the emotions I have been repressing with my reframes and course corrections.

I feel disappointed.
I feel discouraged.
I feel embarrassed.
I feel insecure.
I feel ashamed.
I feel so many things I have not allowed myself to feel.

I have no doubt that I will move forward again.
I’m good at the tweak, direction change, and action-taking. I know that will inevitably happen. It’s just in my nature. Stopping to feel my emotions isn’t going to derail me. In fact, it’s going to help me in a very important way.

I can only really “see” myself if I’m willing to look at everything I am, I think, I do, and I feel. That acknowledgment is a prerequisite for truly loving myself.

I would never in a million years have thought I would need to label things as failures. But in my case, it functions as permission to feel my emotions and still be okay with myself. I have to allow some space to lean into the failure. I need to acknowledge the painful part of it first before I spin it as a positive and start moving again.

That I am worthy despite my failures feels very different to me than the story that I am worthy because I am a success. It may be a subtle distinction for other people but it is a significant one for me.


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The People on the Bus

Let's pretend you are a bus.
Your higher self (spirit, consciousness, divine self) has been appointed the driver. Because all of the things that exist are within you, they are all on this bus. Joy, peace, abundance, and love, but also depression, anger, scarcity, hatred, etc.

Your only job is to make sure YOU maintain control of the bus.
But what do we silly humans do instead?

We hand over the wheel to the biggest bully on the bus. When anxiety begins to overwhelm us, for example, we slide out of the driver’s seat and let it take control of where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

When that happens, you find yourself in places you don’t want to be. Anxiety will drive you straight to What-if Land. Depression will set your navigation system to Lonely Island. Worry likes to play really loud worst-case-scenario music and indecision will just plain get you lost. We don’t want these things at the wheel.

Another thing we do is throw the brake and stop the bus. All forward momentum toward our desires is halted as we try to calm down the crowd and boot off the rowdy trouble-makers.

Or maybe we keep driving but we’re looking over our shoulders all stressed out about who snuck onto our happy little bus. Shame isn’t supposed to be here! Who let shame on the freaking bus?!

But as I said before, shame belongs on the bus. Just like selfish, mean, abusive (yes, we all have the potential to be abusive, look at how we abuse ourselves all the time), superior, and cold. Every potential being you have within you belongs on the bus. The only thing making us feel rotten is judging it wrong or bad that they are here alongside all the wonderful things we want to be. Rejecting them is the same as rejecting a piece of ourselves.

So here’s what I suggest.
We are going to mingle with the demons. Actually, we are not going to mingle. We are going to buckle them into their damn seatbelts and get our asses back in the driver’s seat. We just have to let them know who is boss.

We are going to allow them to ride along, but we get to make the rules. Good luck kicking self-loathing off. In fact, none of them are going anywhere. It’s all about allowing them to be present but deciding who is in charge of the radio. You have to keep the volume turned down on the mouthy ones, because the ones you aspire to be tend to be the quieter ones. They are the sweet little pig-tailed girls sitting silently with their hands in their laps waiting patiently for their turn to pick the song. The menaces are going to hang out in the aisle and throw spitballs. Don’t fear them. They will only get louder if you ignore them. Look directly at them and let them know…

“I see you there. Thanks for showing up. I know you want to be in charge, but you’re not. Now, sit down and be quiet.”

You’re going to have to be firm. They don’t always want to sit down and be quiet but it sure makes for a more comfortable ride.

You know what else helps? A little bit of humor.
Imagine your bus rider and call her by name. Visualize Miss Overwhelmed pacing up and down the aisle wringing her hands, pulling on her hair, and muttering repeatedly to herself, “I just can’t do it. It’s too much.” You can just smile and shake your head. “I see you, Miss Overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, honey, and sit down right here next to me. It’s going to be okay.


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Learning to Embrace the Rain

If I was graded on empathy, I would probably fail.
Maybe that surprises you, maybe not. It probably doesn’t if you know me pretty well in real life (not internet life). But I care about having empathy, so I’ve been in self-prescribed empathy training for a while now.

I wasn’t taught to be empathetic and I definitely wasn’t born with it. I can intellectualize my way around this with the story that my below average empathy is also an asset. That would be true for a surgeon perhaps. But I’m not a surgeon; I’m a life coach. I can even soothe myself with the story that my lacking empathy is the very thing that enables me to help others in pain because I don’t get bogged down with my own emotional reaction.

But soothing myself has only kept me in the following cycle. Hear the word “empathy,” remember that I don’t have much, feel ashamed for it, use my brain to talk myself out of feeling that way, and everything is better. But only until the next time I hear the word. And guess what? I hear that word a lot.

I now think that the same habit of intellectualizing to soothe myself has been part of my empathy handicap. But more on that later. First, I have to confess this.

I feel shame when I think of empathy. I judge myself as broken. I feel unworthy of the work I do. I am jealous that other people have it. Just hearing the word makes me feel not good enough.

Those sentences are the things I need to say, write, and share. I need to acknowledge them as part of the process of learning how to be empathetic. I don’t want the soothing cycle anymore. I want to feel my shame and know that I’m okay. I want to accept and love myself with all of my shame-y bullshit. And yeah, I want to get better at empathy. I want to do that for me, not because I’m not good enough if I don’t have it but because I think it’s a healthy endeavor for any human in relationship with others.

Empathy, as I see it, requires me to do two things I have struggled so much with:

  1. Feel all of the emotions and know how every emotion feels
  2. Dive into the well of emotional experiences when confronted with someone else’s feelings in order to really see the other person

Empathy Training Part I
I used to think I just didn’t have all the emotions other people have. But really, I had an excellent defense mechanism. Whenever I got even the slightest whiff of a vulnerable emotion, I immediately mobilized my battalion. These are the emotions that would either protect me like armor or protect me by attacking first: anger, judgment, disapproval, disgust, etc.

My battle emotions were there to hide the tender ones. Showing tender emotions felt like exposing my most precious treasure to a bunch of barbarians who were going to smash it to bits, so I taught myself to never show things like sadness, loneliness, humiliation, or shame. And I got so good at it that it seemed to me like I didn’t actually feel those things. Until empathy training.

They are actually there. I just had to disengage my defense mechanism and start out as an emotional toddler. I had to actively investigate what I was feeling behind the armor. Here’s another reason I wanted to do this, in addition to increasing my empathy. By rejecting those feelings, I was really rejecting myself for all those years. That is completely misaligned with my mission to love myself. So, my work for the first part of empathy training has been to identify, feel, and share my emotions.

Empathy Training Part 2
When confronted with another person’s vulnerable emotions, I would employ another intellectualize-to-soothe trick. Instead of diving into my supply of emotional experiences to tap into what the other person was feeling, I would find one of my survivor narratives. Maybe I didn’t have a similar emotional experience but I could find similar circumstances and in 100% of the scenarios, I conquered and rose victorious. Instead of feeling all the pain and telling people about those times and getting stuck in those emotions (ugh, who would want to do that?!), I persevered!

Let’s add a fear-driven desire to the mix. I wanted to know everything and be the expert because I thought worthiness must be earned. Not only did I need to bury the bodies of my emotions and fast before there were witnesses, I also needed to spin every unpleasant experience into something I could teach others. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that except that it was the well I was drawing from when someone was feeling pain near me. In someone’s moment of vulnerability, my habitual response was to figure out how expert-me could help you solve your “problem.” It never even dawned on me that the damsel in distress may not be looking for a hero. She might just want to be acknowledged and connect with someone.

The second part of my empathy training has largely been to do my best to shut up, listen, and maybe ask questions. Respect the pauses. Resist the urge to share for the purpose of making myself feel valuable. And most importantly, tap into this emotion that is present.

I want more out of this life and my relationships.
I want to have the courage to feel. I want to see the people in my life. I want to be seen for more than my triumphs and advice. I want real connection and intimacy. And so, empathy training continues.


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In gratitude for ugly emotions

Jealousy and disgust are two emotions I like to keep a close eye on.
They feel pretty ugly, so that’s one reason. But I have a couple of other reasons, as well.

Strong feelings of any kind usually motivate us to act in some way. When we feel unpleasant emotions, we’re going to do anything we can to make it stop. For me, the “action” takes place all in my head.

When disgust shows up (and frankly, I am disgusted by how often it does), I tell myself a story of how different I am, how I am nothing like the behavior I’m judging.

If it’s jealousy, the narrative might be that I’m not good enough because I haven’t found the success I desire (that may seem like the opposite of making unpleasant feelings stop but in its own misguided way, the ego is trying to motivate me to be successful) or it might be that the other person doesn’t deserve what they have.

That’s some messed up shit, right? Obviously, I want to shift myself away from those emotions because they just plain don’t feel good, but also I am committed to connection and love. Those things cannot co-exist with the separation I’m creating by seeing the differences between myself and other people.

When I first started working with jealousy, my strategy was to interrupt the narrative and take a different action.
I'd often compliment the person for whatever I was jealous of. Celebrating the success of others has been a surefire way for me to not only get rid of the unpleasant emotion, but also to pull myself back into alignment with who I want to be.

When it came to disgust, I tried to replace the “we’re nothing alike” track in my head with the “just like me” track.
Just like me, that person struggles. Just like me, that person acts out. Just like me, that person wants so badly to be seen.

But I also started to see another opportunity. Disgust and jealousy are pointing me at something very important. While jealousy often shows me something I want to be, do, have, or achieve, disgust does the opposite. Both are important because our desires are made up of what we want to experience AND what we don’t want to experience.

I also noticed that the stronger the feeling, the stronger the desire or fear. Big envy means I am looking directly at something I want badly. Big disgust usually stems from fear of being that very thing I am judging. When someone acts like a know-it-all, when someone can’t receive feedback, when someone is being judgmental or selfish or out-of-control… these are all things I fear in myself.

When it comes to my growth game, I’m always trying to do two things.
First, I try to accept and love myself where I am. That requires that I acknowledge I have the potential to be everything that exists, both the qualities I want to have and the qualities I don’t want to have. Second, I try to keep nudging myself in the direction of those desired qualities. Seeing the ones I don’t want actually helps me do that. In fact, I need them or else how would I know?

I have to be grateful for these emotions because they are the highlighters. Plus, gratitude is one of the fastest ways to raise your energetic vibration, so it has a way of naturally making you feel better.

Thank you, jealousy, for showing me what I want.
Thank you, disgust, for reminding me of what I don’t want.

Now when I see them coming, I have an appreciation for what they bring with them.

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I've Been a Bad Friend

In this lifetime, I haven’t been very good at emotions.
Not feeling them, not identifying them, and definitely not sharing them. Much of my personal work has focused on this area and that last one about sharing my emotions is a huge stretch for me. It’s just so freaking hard to make myself vulnerable. But I’m trying.

When you’re afraid of strong emotions, you come up with all kinds of ways to avoid them. Not just your own emotions either. You also have tactics for steering away from other people’s feelings if for some reason you weren’t able to avoid them in the first place.

As I force myself to share how I feel so I can have intimate connections with the people in my life, I’ve learned some things. One is that I’ve been a bad friend. Like being handed a mirror, I recognize myself in some of the responses I get that don’t feel good. I’m also learning how lonely it feels when the other person doesn’t connect with you during your moment of vulnerability.

Here are some of the maneuvers I would use (and let’s be honest, still do sometimes).

Reassurance. Hoping it will help you feel good instantly, I launch into a pep talk about how great you are or how you handled it fine or how you can do this(!).

Solution. I start throwing out pieces of advice about what you should do so we can focus on a plan that will make you feel better instead of how you feel right now.

Reframe. I tell you how if we just look at the situation a little differently, then you don’t even have to feel the unpleasant emotions at all.

Share. I find some similar situation in my own data bank of personal stories and tell you all the details so we can just stay on the surface and avoid the emotions underneath our experiences.

I think I’m helping. I think I’m connecting. But I’m not. I know that now. As I force myself to be vulnerable and share when I’m in pain, I have felt how those responses make me feel like my emotions are wrong and I shouldn’t be feeling the way I do.

I get why I do it. I’m trying to move us both away from painful emotions and into “safer” territory. I feel so uncomfortable that I assume the other person is too, and don’t we all just want to get the heck out of there?!

Those maneuvers don’t just invalidate the other person’s emotions though. They also don’t acknowledge that this is the other person’s experience and they are the ones to decide what we should do. Moving us out of that vulnerable place isn’t my job when the other person is in pain.

Being on the other side of it now, I realize that I usually just want the other person to listen. I’m scared enough to share. The last thing I want is for the other person to be scared, too. I want them to hold some space for me and not fill it up. I want them to see me without grabbing my hand and trying to haul us both out. These are the things that make me feel connected and loved. That’s the friend I wish I’d been and want to be now.

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How to Stop Focusing on What You Don’t Have

We get sad because we see a hole where we think something should be. A partner. A lifestyle. A feeling. You might notice the hole because of a loss. Something you want was there before. It’s also possible that the hole has never been filled; you know it’s there because what you want isn’t.

One of the challenges of sadness is that it vibrates at low energy. That’s why you don’t want to get out of bed. It’s why you can’t accomplish much of anything. It’s why you are tired, sluggish, or lethargic. Getting out of the dumps so you can get back to feeling good is going to require raising your energetic vibration. Shifting your focus can help jump start your energy level.

Focus Shift 1: I look forward to (insert desire).

Sadness actually has a beautiful flip side. It points at something we desire, something we want to be, do, have, or experience. Most of us want what we want because we think it will make us happy. So logically, it should make you happy to think about it, right? What really matters, though, is how you think about it. You have more control over your emotions than you think. They are the direct result of a thought. If you think about what you want as missing or impossible to get, you feel sad. But if you think about it as on it’s way, like a package you ordered from Amazon, it’s exciting. It’s coming! Excitement will naturally raise your energy level.

Focus Shift 2: I am grateful for (insert desires fulfilled).

You might be entirely focused on the hole. All you can think about is the void in your life. Take a minute to step back and look around. Pick your head up. All around that one thing missing are the things that are present in your life. Don’t ignore those. In fact, celebrate them. Have some gratitude for all the desires that have already appeared. Those used to be things you wanted and now they are things you have. How wonderful! That grateful energy vibrates very similarly to that excited energy.

Focus Shift 3: I now have space for (insert desire).

Another way of thinking about a lack of fulfillment is to contemplate the hole itself. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing after all. A hole might represent where you wish something was, but it also means there is space for anything you can dream up. Maybe something better than you had before or more magnificent than what you have imagined so far. You need that room to get your creative juices flowing. If space is being made in your life for absolutely anything you can conceive of, what would you design? This time, you are using creative energy to elevate your vibration.

Feeling sad is a perfectly normal human state and sitting with your feelings is a healthy thing to do. If we don’t allow our emotions, they have a way of coming out sideways, creating problems, and keeping us stuck. But after the initial and natural emotional response subsides, we have the ability to affect our feelings by shifting our focus. You can feel sad but you don’t have to stay sad. That’s up to you.

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Five Ways to Keep your Cool in an Argument

You can walk into a conversation with the most loving intentions but when the other person pushes your buttons, it’s all too easy to fall into an unhealthy trap.

Having an auto-response (even just to repeat in your head) can be incredibly helpful for staying on the high-energy road, even when the other person’s response threatens to drag you down. Here are some common tricky situations and what to do to keep yourself centered.

They try to engage you in a fight.
People prefer what they know, especially when they are triggered. If communication between the two of you has historically ended in a fight, the other person may want to pull you both back into that familiar scenario. Also, energy likes company. If they feel miserable, they will want you to drop down into that misery energy with them.

Breaking patterns is one of the toughest things to do in a relationship, especially one that has a long history. If the other person isn’t on board, you carry the bigger burden. But even if they never join you in your intention, you can break your own pattern by not engaging.

RESPONSE: I love us too much to fight.

They shut down and disconnect.
Everyone handles situations differently depending on their fear response. Some people fight. Some people flee. When the other person withdraws, it’s likely they are wrapped up in their own emotional reaction. Unfortunately at that point, they may not be able to hear what you are trying to communicate. Also, feedback can be really threatening for people who are easily triggered when they think they’ve done something “wrong.” System shut down is a common response to feelings of unworthiness.

The purpose of communication needs to be for connection and not to point out wrongness. As long as that remains the focus, there is less likelihood of triggering the other person.

RESPONSE: I am expressing myself, because I want to stay connected.

They keep dragging up the past.
Some people feel like the best defense is a good offense. If there isn’t anything to grab onto in the moment to use as an attack, they might bring up something old that they think you did wrong. It’s just a deflection technique.

It could also mean there are unresolved events still causing pain in the present. That’s worth a mindful look at some point. Clearing it up by forgiving and learning from it may put it to rest. However, this moment is for this conversation and it’s important to maintain focus on that rather than get confused and distracted.

RESPONSE: I’m focused on only this right now.

The calmer you are, the more out of control they become.
Sometimes people mistake a calm demeanor as a dismissive one or as quiet judgement, and people do interesting things when they feel ignored. They may double their efforts to be heard by screaming, swearing, and spinning out of control. The more non-reactive you are, the more judged they feel and the more self-judgement they engage in. It’s all just what’s going on in their own mind though.

In order to remain connected, you have to stay and allow. Abandoned is the last thing somebody who has lost it wants to feel in their “crazy” moment. That feels like the ultimate judgement.

RESPONSE: I am loving and will not turn away.

They reject your apology.
The other person may either outright refuse to accept it or energetically reject it by remaining disconnected. People reject apologies for a number of reasons…they don’t believe them, they don’t trust that things will change, they want to punish the other person, etc… As long as the apology is sincere and done properly (without justifications/rationalizations/qualifiers/blame) with an honest intention to change behavior, the other person’s response is their business.

When we’ve hurt someone else, we’ve hurt ourselves in the process because it’s painful to cause someone else’s suffering. By apologizing, we are owning our responsibility and attempting to reconnect. It’s very important that we forgive ourselves in the process, also. That way, we can still release ourselves from an experience even when the other person wants to tether us to it.

RESPONSE: I can forgive myself and move on.

We aren’t always on the same page as our partner, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring our best selves to the tough conversations. Having helpful little tools like auto-responses are a way for us to keep growing, keep loving, and stay connected to ourselves and our loved ones.

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Five Signs Your Past is Affecting Your Happiness Today

We all want to feel like survivors of the bad stuff that’s happened to us. Since we're here, I guess we are survivors. However, surviving and thriving are pretty different. Even though you might want to put your head in the air, straight arm the past, and never look back, the past has sneaky ways of keeping you from all the goodness life is waiting to deliver. Here are some of the ways it might be showing up in your daily life.

You are repeating patterns.
Even though it feels like you’ve moved on, you somehow end up in the same kinds of relationships or find yourself experiencing the same types of circumstances and situations. That’s a sure sign that you have some unresolved business to deal with. It’s why people find themselves in codependent relationships over and over or in jobs they hate again and again or in the same kinds of conflicts with people time after time. Something in your past set you up for this pattern and the only surefire way to break it is to find out more about where it came from.

You are holding onto hurt.
Maybe it’s in the form of grudges or perhaps people you can’t stand, even ones you hate. It can be simply waiting for an apology or any acknowledgment that what that person did to you was wrong. The problem is that energy like that is poison to your loving heart. Not only does it give all your power away to someone else or what they did, but it pulls in more of the same experiences because energy attracts like energy. The way to release yourself from that is to visit the source of the hurt, see it clearly, forgive, and let go.

You’ve allowed your experiences to define who you are.
This is particularly sticky if it stems from something you’ve done to harm someone else. When you’ve done a selfish, mean, or lazy thing, you might fold that into your identity. Instead of it being just an incident, now YOU are selfish, mean, or lazy. If you’ve got judge-y words about yourself bouncing around that little head of yours, they didn’t materialize out of nothing. They were born from an experience and a glance back can be the thing that liberates you from those negative definitions. Even being told you are strong can be a heavy weight to bear when you don’t feel like being strong.

You’ve picked up limiting beliefs.
If you hear yourself say “I can’t” or “I’ll never,” it’s very likely you’ve got a limiting belief in operation. I can’t quit my job. I’ll never find my soulmate. I can’t tell anyone that. I’ll never lose the weight. Totally normal. Humans have limiting beliefs because our brains are trying to make sense of the world. But they came into existence as a result of our experiences. Once we are able to see the mental process that started in our past and runs our decisions today, we can begin to bust through those limitations.

You are isolating yourself based on a story.
It’s in our nature to revise the past. We do it to protect ourselves. Sometimes we edit something that happened to make it so much worse so that we’ll never put ourselves in that kind of danger again. That isolates us from other people as we avoid anything even remotely similar or it isolates us from ourselves as we reject a piece of who we are as too terrible. Other times we change the story so that the real facts don’t hurt quite so bad and we don’t have to feel that pain when we land on a memory. Most of the time, we are just trying to feel worthy and good enough but lies and falsehoods take an enormous amount of energy to protect and keep us from living an authentic life. Freedom comes from standing nakedly in front of the real story in our past and accepting ourselves entirely.

The past might feel like a scary place but so many people are living a life that is falling short of what they want in their hearts and in relationships that don’t come even close to what they deserve. As scary as that look backward may seem, the real bleakness is what won’t be realized if you don’t take the plunge.
No fooling, a new 21-Day Heart Cleanse starts April 1! You can find more course details and registration information here.

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