Why are we afraid of others judging us?

Many of us are so afraid of judgment. We find ourselves covering up, hiding to avoid it. Some of us even change who we are. We pretend we are someone else. We lie about actions we have taken. We are afraid. But why? Why are we so terrified of how other people see us?

We mistake it as a truth about our identity. We let what other people say about us become us. We put too much weight in other people’s opinions. We give them too much power over how we see ourselves. We act like people and their thoughts about us determine who we really are. That is not the case. We can choose to see judgments simply for what they are—an opinion. Just because it is an opinion doesn’t mean it is true. Opinions are simply thoughts, they don’t have to mean anything. 

That is not to say we shouldn’t listen to others. If a lot of people we care about come to us with the same opinion about our behavior then it is worth considering what they have to say. It is worth opening your mind to their opinions and analyzing them for yourself. They could be trying to tell you something that maybe you didn’t notice. Or, it could be something you have noticed but have brushed off. 

The bottom line is all opinions should be taken in stride.

Don’t worry about the things you cannot control. People are always going to judge you. People are always going to have an opinion about the color of your hair, that outfit, how much food you eat, what time you put your kids to bed, how you spend your Saturday night, etc. Let it go. You could drown in judgments if you let them weigh on you. They are all around you. The best thing you can do is accept them as simply someone else’s opinion, which does not mean you have to listen to it. 

Expectation Vs. Personal Value

Someone once told me they didn’t want to go after their dream because they were afraid of a self-imposed expectation. They didn’t want to create the assumption that they should be making a change. They didn’t want to face that kind of intense pressure from themselves or others.

What this person really wants is a life aligned with personal value. It is not an expectation. There is a difference between personal value and expectation. An expectation is metric, it is performance driven, whereas personal value is what is important to us. Personal values are the things near and dear to our hearts.

They are part of who we are. For example, say you knew someone battling with breast cancer and breast cancer awareness has become an important issue for you. It has become part of your personal values. You can participate in a breast cancer fundraiser, and even set a goal to raise a certain amount. You don’t need to set this as an expectation and kick yourself if you don’t meet the goal. You are not expected to cure breast cancer. You value the cause. It is an important and deeply personal part of your life.

Everyone has a personal value and aligning your life with that value helps you to feel “alive” and to motivate you to do certain things. Maybe your personal value is physical fitness. You value your health and well being so you decide to walk to the store, you are not setting the expectation that you will run a marathon.

What are some of your personal values?

Why we shouldn’t unconditionally love

We don’t have to, in fact, we should not, always unconditionally love another. Unconditional love makes sense for things that people have no control over like their skin color, abilities, disabilities, or if they are laid-off from a job. But, when people have a choice and they choose to be unkind we have the right to create boundaries. 

We don’t have to put up with other people taking advantage of us, being mean or rude to us, or hurting us in any way. Saying that we should “always love unconditionally” is saying that we should not consider our own personal wellbeing, our feelings, and emotions about a situation. Instead, it is helpful to look at people and their actions as a choice vs. no choice. 

Loving others for the things they have no choice over is healthy while loving others for the unkind things they choose to do to us is not healthy. We need to stand up for ourselves, protect ourselves from wrongdoing by establishing boundaries with those that are toxic to our wellbeing. Loving unconditionally sets a tone that says people can walk all over us with no consequences.

Unconditional love is great for our children who are young and don’t have the capacity to always understand their actions and how they could be hurtful. But, for a spouse who makes the choice to hurt his/her partner physically or emotionally, we have the right to cut ties and to choose to not love unconditionally. 

What do you think about love? Should it be unconditional?

Don’t be someone’s second choice

Being someone’s second choice means thinking less of yourself. It means not being treated the way you deserve. It means never being put first. Don’t be someone’s second choice. You deserve better. 

When you are the second choice you are often the one waiting by the phone, leaving your days open-ended hoping to be included in plans but often being left disappointed that you were not. The second choice is often stood up, left hanging, or pushed aside for the person that comes before. 

You deserve to be appreciated

It is not a good feeling to always be the one who is trying the hardest in a relationship and never really feeling appreciated. The second choice will go the extra mile to get the attention, hoping that someday they might be the first choice. It means long nights staring at your phone hoping it will ring.

If this sounds like you. Stop. Appreciate yourself. 

If you are someone’s second choice, go elsewhere. Let go of he/she/they and find the person that will put you first. Everyone has a person. Everyone has someone that will call them first, that will appreciate their efforts, that will love them completely. 

Love can make you crazy, it blurs your vision and makes it hard to see beyond a person but at some point, you have to put yourself first. You have to take care of you. You have to look at the facts: you are spending more time unhappy fighting for this thing you think is best for you when in reality it is not good for you at all. Reevaluate your life and break free. Don’t settle for second best, don’t settle for being the leftovers, don’t settle on being someone’s silver, instead be someone’s gold. 

When you catch your partner checking out other women…

You are walking down the street with your partner, having a conversation, and you notice their eyes as you pass another woman. They move up and down, maybe you even spot a smirk on their face after they are done checking out the other woman. How does that make you feel? 

You might brush it off and laugh about it, or you might internalize it. You might start to think— what makes her so special? What am I missing that she has? Why is she better than me? You might let it take a toll on your self-esteem. The reality is this other woman says nothing about your identity, about who you are as a person, as a partner, as a woman. She might be attractive, which is why your partner is checking her out, but that does not mean that you are any less attractive. 

You also don’t need to condone this behavior from your partner. It can be hurtful and bothersome. Stand up for yourself. Tell him/her/them how you feel when he/she/they checks out another in front of you. Explain that while you understand they likely do find other people attractive, when they acknowledge it openly in front of you it can be hurtful. Depending on your comfort level, you can also present it in a jokingly way, for example say — “hey I saw that, you think she is pretty huh?” At least that way you open the doors to communication. 

Regardless, the bottom line is the way you talk to yourself is crucial. Stop putting yourself down because of others. Stop letting other people impact the way you see yourself. You are your own beautiful self, no one can take that away from you. 

Have you ever caught your partner checking out another woman? How did it make you feel? 

How to ask for a prenup

Explaining to your fiancé your desire to have a prenuptial agreement can be difficult. It is a touchy conversation that often can result in an argument because, in order to talk about a prenup, you have to talk about divorce. 

Talking about divorce before you have even walked down the aisle can seem counterproductive. It might come off as hurtful. Or it might seem to your partner that you are not fully invested in the relationship. But, let’s be real. Divorce rates are staggeringly high. Half of all marriages will end at some point. Even if you insist that won’t be you, different people have different reasons for wanting that prenuptial document. Maybe you witnessed a friend or family member lose everything in a messy divorce and you want to protect yourself. Or, maybe you just want to feel like you are being responsible. Whatever the reason, if it is something you feel passionately about then you need to have a conversation. 

So, how do you approach such a sensitive topic?

1.) Prepare — Before starting the discussion, grab a piece of paper and fold it in half. Write down ten reasons why you want a prenup on one side and then write down potential responses from your partner on the other side. Being mentally prepared for the discussion and what might come up is key. You need to have a deep understanding of what you want and why you want it. Be authentic and honest with your reasoning. 

2.) Have a conversation, don’t issue demands — Instead of saying “we are getting a prenup,” say “let’s talk about a prenup—what do you think about getting one?” Wait for he/she/they to answer before responding.

3.) Stay calm—Avoid being defensive or argumentative. Don’t get worked up that your partner may not agree with you. That will only make it worse. 

4.)Really listen, ask questions — Have an open mind. Listen and try to see your partner’s perspective as well as your own. 

5.)Talk about it as early as you can — Don’t wait until the week before your wedding to have this conversation. Even though you might know what you want, your partner might not have thought of it in detail. They will need time to assess their feelings and maybe some space to consider your reasoning. If the conversation does not go over well consider approaching the topic again at a later date.

Getting a prenup does not mean your marriage is doomed from the beginning. It just means you want to be prepared for the worst case scenario, and that is ok. The best thing you can do is keep communicating with each other about your thoughts and feelings. 

What do you think about prenups? 

What does empowerment mean?

Have you ever thought about the real meaning of empowerment? What does it really truly mean to be empowered? The dictionary says it is the “authority or power given to someone to do something,” or “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” 

Empowerment is simple

Empowerment is simple. It comes down to one thing—choices. Having the freedom to choose something. It is having options in life. You can choose to go down this path, or this other. You can choose to go back to school or to take the job. You can choose to marry this man or wait it out. You can choose to stay true to you, or to follow others. You can choose to lift other up, or to bring them down. You have choices. You have the CHOICE to choose your path. You are in charge of you. You don’t have to do what others have “planned” for you. You can go your own way. You can follow your heart. You can feel empowered. 

You can learn to advocate for yourself, to reach inside your soul and find your inner strength. It is there, you just have to find it and let it show its face. You can empower others by lifting them up instead of putting them down. Put downs do nothing. They cause harm and achieve absolutely nada. Wouldn’t you rather give people compliments, encourage them when they are down, and point out the good instead of the bad so that they too can be empowered to go after their dreams.

It is like the quote my yoga teacher told me the other day— “You can stay in bed and keep dreaming your dreams, or you can get up and go after those dreams.” There is no better time than now to start being each others cheering squad, including your own. 

Shut up and show up

Have you ever heard the phrase “shut up and show up?” There is a reason it exists and the underlying meaning can be a powerful reminder to all of us. It is saying stop all the talking, the broken promises, the excuses, the word vomit spewing from your mouth and instead show people you care through your actions. 

Actions speak louder than words. You can tell someone you care but until you actually step up to the plate with a kind gesture, a caring action, your words mean nothing. By “showing up” you are telling this person that you are here for them and that they are worthy of your attention, your time. 

Our time is a valuable commodity, especially these days. We are constantly flooded with media and overstimulated. Our attention and our minds are being pulled dozens of directions at one time. It is up to you to make the conscious choice, the conscious effort to put your actions where your mouth is. Show people what they mean to you by physically being there in some way or another. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic or over-the-top. Simple gestures like helping a friend who is hurting to run an errand, delivering meals to a sick family member, putting the phone down to watch your daughter’s dance recital, or getting up early to make your spouse breakfast—its these small gestures, these simple actions that show others you care. 

So stop promising to do this or to do that. Stop telling your friends or family you care and then skipping out on them. Instead, show up. Be there. Show them they are worthy. 

How do you show up for those you care for? 

What to say when someone calls you a “bitch”?

Sometimes it happens. We are viewed as a “bitch” to others because we are busy or anxious and trying to get things done quickly or efficiently. Or, we are standing up for ourselves or someone else. But, what do you say? How do you handle being called a “bitch”? 

That word can come off as hurtful. First of all, there is no need to “take it as a compliment.” After all, it is not a very nice word. There is also no need to go the high road, or the low road, with the person. You don’t need to ignore it and you don’t need to feel bad about yourself for being called such a thing. 

There are two key ways to tackle the situation: 

1.)React in a funny/snarky tone— you could say “I get bonus points for that, right?” Then go back to what you were talking about and blow it off. Don’t take it personally. Don’t dwell on it. It is just a waste of your energy. 

2.)Be a leader in the situation— if you are standing up for yourself or another, or a cause that is near and dear to your heart, you could say “we are here because we care about xyz and name calling doesn’t solve the problem.”

It is all about setting a boundary but maintaining morale. By reacting in a funny tone you are showing the other person that you are not going to let their name calling get you down. By being a leader you are telling them that your actions have a purpose and name calling is pointless. Both reactions set a boundary with the other person that their words are not going to go any deeper than just words. They aren’t accomplishing anything by saying those things. 

It is unfair that women who stand firm and are strong in their beliefs can come off as “bitchy” when in reality they are just passionate. Understand that if you are subjected to such name-calling that it is because you are a strong, passionate person, and that is something to be proud of. 

Why you need to CONNECT before you can CORRECT

We live in a world of interaction—talking to friends, family, coworkers, children. Sometimes we lean on each other, we ask for help or opinions on different things. When we are unsure of ourselves asking for the opinion of others can be a helpful tool in determining what the best course of action is, but first—you have to have a connection of sorts. 

You might be asking, what I could possibly mean by this? Think about it this way—it’s like talking on a cell phone with a person who has lost cell connection, they don’t hear you and nothing is going through because there is no connection. Connections can happen in many ways. It could be a common interest, similar life events that cause you to relate, it could be that you admire this person for some reason or another, or that he/she/they have reached out to you in a way that makes you feel ‘at home’ with them. You can have connections with people you have never met through the internet, like bloggers or writers who you feel an affinity for. 

Without that connection, however it comes to be, your words will not carry the same amount of weight. You cannot correct someone before you connect. If you are at work maybe it is proving to your boss that you are a valuable employee, connecting with them by showing your passion for the job. That might open the door for he/she/they to better respect your ideas and opinions. People listen to others when they have a mutual respect for them. It is all about the connection. 

If you are a teacher trying to correct a child in school, you must first find similarities to create a connection. For example, a child who needs help from a reading specialist and the reading specialist brings up her love of hockey, knowing the child is also a fan—now they have a connection. Now, the child is more likely to absorb the information and make the correction. It is a valuable tool for anyone in business, in life, in family, in success. Take an interest in the people around you, show them you care, and make the connection.  

How do you connect with those around you?