Category: Personal growth Journey

No More SIN

No More SIN

When you hear or read the word sin, your mind automatically knows the meaning and you can easily imagine several examples of sin based on this definition. For me, sin is an acronym for Self-Inflicted Nonsense, which is any thought, action or belief that emotionally or physically harms or limits oneself or generates any feelings of discontent. This phrase first came to me after leaving my second husband. I vowed to myself that I would recognize and remove myself quickly from any situation that did not bring me joy. “No more SIN” became my new motto. A short time after that, I had been attending a small church where the members were bickering with each other and I found myself caught up in some drama. As soon as I finished a project that I promised to do (and really wanted to do), I walked away. No way was I going to stay in yet another situation that did not feed my soul, fill my heart with joy AND soothe my mind with peace. The “no more SIN” motto is a way to practice radical self-care and self-love. We are all seeking happiness and peace but participating in situations where feelings of anger, fear and/or frustration are the dominant emotions is doing yourself more harm than good and blocking your joy.

Sometimes, the SIN situation can be simple or just mildly annoying but removing yourself from it is still a big deal. As an example, I really dislike getting the puff of air/glaucoma test at the eye doctors. Several years ago, I had an appointment and told myself that I was going to be strong and “put on my big girl panties.” After the first attempt, I realized that being a “big girl” meant that I was NOT going to allow the doctor to do that test on me. Saying no felt so good! Now it’s easy to tell the doctor that I’m refusing that exam. Seems simple enough, but for some people or in certain situations, we find it challenging to speak up for ourselves; we put our comfort on the back burner. Are there any situations in your life where you are allowing someone else to do things to you that you are uncomfortable with? Practice “No more SIN.”

Sometimes there are those situations when you really want to say no but you say yes, that’s SIN. There are times, however, when a compromise is necessary. Only you can determine the difference between SIN and a compromise. What’s a SIN to one person may be a simple compromise to another. You may make the same compromise several times before it becomes a SIN.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.” Stephen R. Covey

Is your “yes” radical self-care or SIN? Is your “no” radical self-care or SIN? How does your answer and response to a situation make you feel? Be careful not to confuse guilt or fear with making the “wrong” decision. Practicing self love means setting boundaries. If you know you made the right decision for your highest good, let go of the guilt. Radical self-care may sometimes feel like selfishness, but they are different.

Webster’s Dictionary defines selfish as: “1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>”

The definition of radical self care is putting your well-being first while considering other people’s feelings and circumstances; consciously evaluating your feelings and the situation to make the best decision for yourself.

Without radical self-care and self-love, you can become a doormat, easily manipulated, taken for granted and taken advantage of. All of which create a breeding ground for Self-Inflicted Nonsense. Radical self-care is you taking care of you first, so that you can take care of others later.

Are there situations in your life where the drama is unbearable? Where you feel stressed out or extremely uncomfortable around a specific person or group of people? Where you feel anxious or frustrated even just talking about the situation? If you can separate yourself from the situation but have not, you are practicing SIN. One of the best things about self-inflicted nonsense is that you have the power to stop it! You are in control of your life, your actions, your misery and your happiness. Some situations, like a job or co-workers, may not be as easy to walk away from. In those situations, change your perspective. Practice self reflection to see where your judgments are clouding how you see the circumstances. Sometimes the issue is with us, not the situations that are frustrating us. Only you can determine whether the situation at hand is SIN or an opportunity for personal growth…or both if you are lucky.

Always remember: You are the most important person in your life, so respect yourself enough to walk away from SIN. Seek peace, love and joy in all circumstances, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Tilt Your Head – Change Your Perspective

Tilt Your Head – Change Your Perspective

In my last blog, I talked about forgiveness of self and briefly about forgiveness of others. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about forgiveness of others because, in most cases, the issue is really ours. Those feelings of betrayal, heartbreak and anger are really about us, not them. So what if I told you that forgiveness of others is unnecessary? What if I said the biggest problem is how YOU perceived the situation? I will share with you how changing your perception can eliminate the need for forgiveness of others. *Please note this information is only pertinent to non-violent and non-criminal activities and/or situations.

Our pain, heartbreak and disappointment comes from our expectations not being fulfilled. No person, thing or event has to turn out the way we expect it to. So why do we blame others for our desires not being met? We are the only ones responsible for our happiness, but yet we place that duty on our loved ones and other outside circumstances. We our disappointed when others do not behave in a way that we deem appropriate and then judge them or their behavior as bad. These are the people and situations that wind up on your forgiveness list. So I challenge you to pick a situation in which you feel someone did you wrong, look at it from a different perspective and honestly see where your expectations, desires and needs obscured your judgment and resulted in unnecessary turmoil.


Here’s a real life example of how changing your perception on a “that’s not the way I planned it” situation and forgiveness works. As you may know, I am a massage therapist. I was self-employed and recently decided to expand my practice and hire an employee. I hired a friend, Tina, who was still in massage therapy school. For reasons still unknown to me, Tina’s work performance quickly began to deteriorate and I was left with no other choice but to fire her. I was PISSED off and complained a lot about Tina’s disrespectful behavior and how unappreciated and used I felt. To say that I was angry and hurt was an understatement. However, knowing what I know about forgiveness and gratitude (I practice what I preach) I finally calmed down and realized that I was the one with the problem. I began looking at the situation from a non-blaming, non-self righteous angle. That’s when I realized that I had unmet expectations of Tina and her job performance. It was MY unfulfilled expectation that resulted in MY anger, frustration and disappointment. I wanted Tina behave in a certain way and when she didn’t, I reacted from the hurt feelings. Realistically when someone is hired for a job there is an expectation of performance and professional behavior BUT the problem, in this case and what we tend to do in life, is that I internalize her behaviors. I made Tina’s behavior all about me when I complained of feeling used and under appreciated. I played the victim and adopted the “how dare she do this to ME” attitude. We cannot assume that Tina’s actions were ever about anything or anyone except herself. Playing the victim only takes away my personal power and gives it to the other person or the situation. If we are the only ones responsible for our happiness, then why do we make other people responsible for our misery? So here’s where the forgiveness comes into play. I realized that my expectations were not met and that’s why I was angry. I forgave myself for over-reacting and concluded that maybe Tina was struggling with something that wasn’t my concern. I sent her loving thoughts and showered myself with gratitude for the lessons, emotional growth and the new opportunities that awaits me. Notice how now there is no need to forgive Tina, at least not in the traditional way. There’s nothing to forgive because her actions were not of any wrongdoing to me. Everything was my reaction to and judgment of her actions that caused the problem. Once I took ownership of my feelings, I felt peaceful again.

In addition to projecting our feelings onto others, judgment and labeling circumstances as right or wrong and good or bad is also part of the problem. The situation is what it is, but our judgment of how it SHOULD be is what causes hurt feelings, anger, resentment and/or hatred. In this story, as long as I labeled Tina’s actions as wrong and bad, I was miserable. Once the label was dissolved, I was able to move on and find my inner peace again. That feeling of inner peace, regardless of the outside circumstances, is so important to our well-being. Why do we hold on to the past? It happened and it cannot be changed. Our perception can be changed and our feelings about the events can be changed though. Don’t you want to be happy NOW? Let go of the old baggage holding you down, even if it just happened yesterday, work through the feelings, tilt your head to get a new perspective, forgive, breathe in gratitude and love and step forward into a happier life!

Here’s the forgiveness technique I shared with you last month:

The RELEASE – This technique is best done in a relaxing pose and with no outside distractions. Once you have mastered it, the technique can be done in a matter of seconds and even while you are with others. It will just look like you are taking a deep breath or taking a moment to gather your thoughts.

Put your attention on your heart and imagine a door leading to a cozy room. You open the door, enter the room, then comfortably position yourself on the floor in front of the deity of your choice, your higher self or even a healing fountain. Ask to know what forgiveness feels like. Once you notice the shift in sensation, visualize that the harmful thought that you entered with is just melting off of you and is instantly healed. Realize that you did the best you could at that time. You made a decision or performed an action and now it is done. It cannot be undone, so stressing about it is pointless. As this situation is washed away, you are showered with forgiveness, gratitude and love. Be thankful for the experience and the personal growth. Send yourself love. Feel your deity, higher self or healing fountain send you love. Now REPLACE those harmful thoughts with its opposite loving thought, using one or more healthy I AM statements and affirmations. Stay in the your healing heart space as long as you want or need to. When you are ready, give thanks and leave knowing that you can return as often as you like.

I recently discovered a modification to this technique that works really well: the heart space is a shower and the unnecessary thoughts are being washed away by a shower of forgiveness, gratitude and love. I encourage you to find the visualization that works best for you and your healing journey. Share it with me if you choose. Until next time, peace and love!

Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love

Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love

Forgiveness, gratitude and love are simple words with complex meanings that create a challenge for most people. Sometimes the mere mention of the word forgiveness can evoke anger, resentment and resistance. If that’s the case for you, find a more comfortable word or phrase like “letting go.” Complex concepts are easier to understand when broken down into simple, easy-to-use ideas. Let’s take forgiveness and separate it into two categories: self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others. Starting with self-forgiveness, we need to assess if it is even necessary. Ask yourself: Have you ever “beat yourself up” or obsessed over a decision that had less than the perfect outcome? Do you criticize your actions or call yourself bad, mean or disrespectful names when you make even a small, easy-to-fix mistake? Have you ever done something that you regretted and continue to punish yourself for it years later? If you answered yes to any of these questions then keep reading, you need to work on self-forgiveness. The keyword here is “work.” Forgiveness is a process that takes conscious effort to achieve. If you follow my writings, you’ll notice that I say that a lot. It’s true about life and healing on all levels. You must give yourself permission to take as long as you need to reverse a habit. In this case, we are reversing the habit of self-abusive behavior and thinking. It didn’t happen overnight so it won’t be healed overnight. If you remain dedicated to interpersonal healing, you will find that your challenges have layers. I have discovered that forgiveness, gratitude and love break through those layers a lot faster than any other thought process and it is easier to forgive and love others, when we forgive and love ourselves. So now that you know why you need to forgive yourself, we must discover when forgiveness is necessary and use an easy to remember formula that I call Recognize, Release and Replace. The first step is RECOGNIZE when and that you need to forgive yourself. Going forward, pay attention to your thoughts and reactions to the circumstances around you. If your response is anything less than kind, supportive and loving, you will need to forgive yourself. The more loving we are with ourselves, the easier and quicker it becomes to forgive. The next step is to RELEASE those thoughts and that energy and then to REPLACE them with a healthy and helpful affirmation.

The RELEASE – This technique is best done in a relaxing pose and with no outside distractions. Once you have mastered it, the technique can be done in a matter of seconds and even while you are with others. It will just look like you are taking a deep breath or a moment to gather your thoughts.

Put your attention on your heart and imagine a door leading to a cozy room. You open the door, enter the room, then comfortably position yourself on the floor in front of the deity of your choice, your higher self or even a healing fountain. Ask to know what forgiveness feels like. Once you notice the shift in sensation, visualize that the harmful thought that you entered with is just melting off of you and is instantly healed. Realize that you did the best you could at that time. You made a decision or performed an action and now it is done. It cannot be undone, so stressing about it is pointless. As this situation is washed away, you are showered with forgiveness, gratitude and love. Be thankful for the experience and the personal growth. Send yourself love. Feel your deity, higher self or healing fountain send you love. Now REPLACE those harmful thoughts with its opposite loving thought, using one or more healthy I AM statements and affirmations. Stay in the your healing heart space as long as you want or need to. When you are ready, give thanks and leave knowing that you can return as often as you like.

During your daily adventures, use your new affirmations whenever possible, but especially when you RECOGNIZE yourself going back to old habits. Remember healing is a process so you may need to re-enter the heart space with the same issue several times before it is healed. That’s OK! Give yourself time to heal and permission to do it at your own pace.

Forgiveness part two, forgiveness of others. As you may have heard before, forgiveness is about you NOT the person that you are forgiving. Forgiving them does not excuse what happened. Forgiveness is about letting go of the harmful feelings (anger, bitterness, resentment, mistrust, hatred, judgment, etc…) and allowing yourself to heal. Carrying around all that pain is only hurting YOU! Use the same heart space meditation until the feelings are gone. Forgiveness allows us to feel joy, love and happiness more fully and consciously. It allows us the opportunity to enjoy, appreciate and discover all the wonders of this life that we couldn’t see because of the hurt. You deserve happiness, heal the pain!

So the title of this article is Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love. Let’s talk briefly about gratitude. It is so easy to be thankful for a fun, exciting and/or safe experience. However, when we are going through a crisis, it can be difficult to be grateful for the experience. Remember that everything happens for reason and everything is a growth opportunity, so practice gratitude for all situations and life events and watch how your world changes for the better. The more you express gratitude, the more things you will have to be grateful for, it’s the law of the Universe. Love…love is the glue. Love is the foundation. Love is the beginning, middle and end of all things. The less you hate, the more you love. The more you love, the less you hate. The practices of Forgiveness, Gratitude and Love are inseparable, they are one. Forgiveness and gratitude are both expressions of LOVE. So love yourself, love one another, love life!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! We all associate this greeting and this day with lovers and with children. Do you realize that with the kids, everyone in their class is their Valentine’s? Think about it, no one is left out. Either as the parent, the teacher or the child, you brought enough cards, decorations and treats for EVERYONE. My invitation to you is to love everyone. If love is too strong of a word for you, let’s use ACCEPT. In order to love and accept all people, let’s first explore the opposite feelings: hate and judgment. Let’s also define ALL PEOPLE before continuing. ALL PEOPLE is defined as anyone of the same or different gender orientation than you; anyone of the same or different complexion, race, color or ethnic background than you; anyone living in the same or different area (neighborhood, city, state, county, region, country, continent, hemisphere, Earth) than you; anyone who was born in a different area than you; anyone who practices the same or different religious or spiritual beliefs as you; anyone who speaks or doesn’t speak your language; anyone whose body has extra parts, is missing parts or who has different parts than you; anyone who dresses differently than you; anyone who has political views, opinions or affiliations that are different from yours; anyone born in the same or a different year from you AND anyone who sins, behaves, thinks, speaks and looks differently than you. Whew, what a list! I think I successfully covered everybody and the reasons they are typically judged or hated.

The reasons people hate and/or judge another falls into four main categories:

  1. They feel physically threatened by them.
  2. The other person has traits or habits that the hater doesn’t like about himself or herself, therefore projects their self-hatred onto them.
  3. The hater feels inadequate to, intimidated by, jealous of the target.
  4. The hater has confused hate with a lack of understanding or compassion.

Can you see how with all 4 reasons, the issue lies with the hater and not the target? If not, I shall explain it to you.

With the first category, the optimal word here is “feel,” as in perception or belief. One way this feeling exists is through a vicarious experience where one person is the perpetrator and every one else that fits that description gets labeled as a threat. Sure Stacy was attacked by a purple man with 4 arms, but that doesn’t mean all purple men with 4 arms are bad, threatening, dangerous or deserve to be hated on. This is the kind of hate and stereotyping that our society feeds on. It doesn’t matter whether or not the media is playing on people’s fear, or if the fear of danger is just so strong that it naturally consumes people, it is simply not fair to punish or hate anyone who remotely looks like the members of a specific group of criminals. How is this behavior humane? Is this what “love thy neighbor as thyself” looks like? One bad apple doesn’t make the whole bushel bad. Recognize if you have fallen into the trap of mass- stereotyped vicarious hatred that our world is so accustomed to, then stop…just stop. Oh, and the Stacys of the world, they have some forgiveness work to do. You’ll have to wait for my next blog to learn about my favorite forgiveness techniques.

Category two is a direct result of the lack of self-love. It was 1996 when I first heard the quote: “What you most dislike about someone else is what you most dislike about yourself.” I began to witness that I frequently judged skinny girls. Oh wow! At the time I was in my early 20s and weighed all of 95 lbs. I had been slim all of my life and was teased a lot. Unfortunately, I internalized the teasing and that led to self-judgment which I then projected onto others who fit the same description. At that moment of realization, I began to consciously appreciate, accept and love my body more and more everyday. Not once was anyone else but me responsible for my feelings. I am the only one that needed to change. The skinny girls I hated on didn’t need to gain weight or stay in hiding so no one had to see their bodies. I changed my perception of myself, then my perception of them automatically changed. Homework: become aware of your little judgmental voice. Is that thought a projection of how you see yourself? If yes, accept and embrace that quality about you and every day, love it more.

The third category is also a direct result of the lack of self-love. Any time someone feels inadequate to, intimidated by or jealous of another person, healing needs to happen. Is the issue with the hater or with the target? Always the one with the issue is the one that needs to heal. The hater needs to discover his/her own self-worth. The target does not need to change, be less successful or less beautiful so that others won’t feel insecure around him/her.

With the fourth category, can you see examples in our society where certain groups of people are judged mainly because they are misunderstood? To those that confuse hatred with a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience and a lack of compassion, let me just tell you this. Every single person on this Earth has a personal struggle. Every single person is looking for love, acceptance and safety. Each of us has a least one thing we are really good at and at least one thing we just cannot figure out. At our core we are all the same. However, if we looked alike, spoke the same language or behaved the same way, life would be boring! Our uniqueness needs to be celebrated and honored not hated or shamed. No one is superior to anyone else. If you don’t understand someone’s way of life, ask questions to members of that group or their friends or do some research (preferably from a reliable, unbiased source, not a hate group). Holding onto hatred hurts you, not the target of your feelings. Acting on your ignorance reflects on your personality and hurts those that you are hating on. Social hate affects everybody! The best way to feel compassion for another human being is to put yourself in his shoes. So right now, imagine if everyday you had to live with hatred these examples of hatred. Take a moment to really experience what each one would be like. How would you feel if people called you hurtful names as they walked by you? How would you feel if someone beat you up for being yourself, for living your life out loud, simply expressing your individuality? How would you feel is someone killed your lover because of how you look (same gender, different race or both)? How would you feel if you were constantly being judged by your religious or spiritual beliefs? How would you feel if you were prohibited from visiting certain businesses or using public facilities based on race or sexual preference? You get the point? It doesn’t feel good. So do whatever you need to do to spread love, not hate. Love, understanding and acceptance doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s FREE. On a personal note, I am truly blessed to have friends, acquaintances and clients from all walks of life who show me how we are all the same and how to appreciate our differences. Which came first, the acceptance or the friendships? It’s a circle, no beginning and no ending. My openness to make friends with someone different than me leads to acceptance, which then leads to being more receptive to making friends with all kinds of people.

So this Valentine’s day, I invite you to spread love to everyone! I invite you to not only show love to your friends and family, but also to someone different from you. I invite you to be more open to make friends with (or least being nice to) someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. Hold the door for someone. Say hi to a stranger. Wave at a child. I invite you to love yourself more and more everyday!

With love,

Beverly V Bates

Holistic Wellness Specialist

Certified Holistic Life Coach

 

Intro-Live Life Out Loud

Intro-Live Life Out Loud

Welcome to my blog. For weeks, I’ve been thinking about starting a blog to share my thoughts, insights and lessons learned. The thought would come in but I would quickly dismiss it, believing I wouldn’t stay committed to posting entries on a regular basis or that posting a quick and general comment on Facebook was sufficient. Well today I was talking to a new friend and casually mentioned that I used to live in the shadows but now I’m choosing to be seen. That statement sparked a flame in me. Although I’ve been living out loud, owning my uniqueness and sharing my stories with people for a long time, HEARING myself say those words kicked it up a notch! So now has become the perfect time to start my blog and Live Life Out Loud is the perfect title! So welcome and thank you! It doesn’t matter if you never read another post, thank you for reading this one! 🙂

The ways in which we can choose to Live Out Loud are endless. Every single one of us has our own unique style, journey, experiences, lessons and issues. No one but you can tell you how to Live Out Loud. Keep in mind that this is an ever-changing process. How we are Living Loudly today may be different from how we express ourselves in 6 months or a year from now. When we embrace both the present moment and the process of Living Out Loud, we discover and truly feel the magic and the joy of life! Living Out Loud is a holistic experience, both a physical and a mental journey.  I will share with you just a few lifestyle changes that took me from living in the shadows and not being seen or heard to Living My Life Out Loud.

On the physical, I began changing my style of dress. My wardrobe is still becoming more colorful and I continue to explore what it feels like to wear new patterns and fabrics. I’ve explored showing more skin and showing less skin. My jeans got sexier, slacks became dressier and casual pants became more colorful. My tennis shoes even became more colorful. On occasion, I will even replace the loudly colored tennis shoes with dressy flats or heels! That switch was really big deal for me! I’m still not a fan of heels, unless they are boots, so I’m owning the “flat and comfortable with a dressy outfit” look. This is now my signature.  I own this, I rock this! Lesson: do not allow or try to live up to someone else’s standard of beauty or fashion. DO YOU and own it! Honor the process, no matter how long it takes!

Also, on the physical level, I faced the issues of self-consciousness head on! My public dancing and karaoke performances became less reserved and more carefree, without the consumption of alcohol mind you! Needing to be intoxicated to Live Out Loud is not being or living authentically.

For me, Living Out Loud also means making friends everywhere or anywhere. I am known to strike up a conversion with the bank teller, the store clerk, the mail carrier, the person next to me on a plane, the person in the same aisle of the grocery store. The opportunity list to talk to someone is endless. People love to talk about themselves. People need to know someone cares enough to listen to them. We like to be acknowledged and complimented. Sometimes, we just need to be seen. You never know what joys can follow a simple hello with a smile.

The final change that I want to share with you today is internal, conscious, daily and fluid. I started the journey of speaking my truth, forgiveness, acceptance, elimination and the changing and healing of my thoughts, perceptions and beliefs. These changes automatically improved my self-esteem, my self-worth and my self-love. Self-love is where our personal power is unstoppable. Self-love is essential for Living Life Out Loud. Most of my future blogs will be about this journey, so I don’t want to spend too much time here. Besides, this subject needs more and deserves more than a summarized paragraph.

So, I invite you to realize, recognize, discover and/or honor how you are expressing and owning your individuality and uniqueness, how you are sharing your passions, joy and love with others, and how you can love yourself more. Live on purpose, with joy and self-love and Live Your Life Out Loud.

In Peace & Health,

Beverly Bates