“Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.” ~Unknown
This quote seems counterintuitive, right?
For many years, I, too, scoffed at the idea.
Having dealt with crippling shyness throughout my life, I know firsthand what it’s like to feel weak, powerless, and trapped because of it.
As a child, I remember clinging to my mom’s leg and using her body to hide from strangers. Then, as I got older, this shy behavior manifested into a fear of speaking my mind, interacting with others, putting myself out there, and so on and so forth.
My quiet and timid nature …
“Alone doesn’t always mean lonely. Relationship doesn’t always mean happy. Being alone will never cause as much loneliness as being in the wrong relationship.” ~Unknown
I don’t know if it’s the conditioning of Disney movies that makes every young girl dream of finding her Prince Charming, but that was my experience. My prince entered my life just like that, saving me from my boredom and taking me on a roller coaster of excitement. He assured me that our love was going to last forever, and the naivety of being sixteen made me believe him.
It didn’t take long for his …
“You have no friends. You have no enemies. You only have teachers.” ~Ancient Proverb
My very wise aunt, a talented psychotherapist and one of my spiritual teachers, has told me many times that the people, places, and things that trigger us are just “props in our spiritual drama.”
This phrase has stuck with me for years because it’s catchy and it rings so true to me. If we are struggling, it’s not a matter of the external force, it’s about what it provokes in us.
We don’t heal by trying to change others. We heal through breaking cycles; through knowing …
Most of us grow up believing that one day a handsome prince or beautiful princess will come our way and lead us into a life of “happily ever after.” No one knows what’s going to happen, but we’re certain it will be magical. We spend our childhoods desperate to grow up so that our lives can finally start when we meet “the one.”
The one who will make us happy. The one who will take all our cares away. The one who will love us, and only us, forever and ever.
Finally, we will be wanted and desired. We will …
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” ~Unknown
I used to be a complainer, a fault-finder, a grumbler. I would grumble a hundred times a day about mundane issues, be it the weather, the traffic, or my husband.
I complained when my husband didn’t help me around the house, and grumbled when he helped. It took me some time to realize that it was not him or his lack of housekeeping skills that made me unhappy. I was unhappy because I was turning into an ungrateful person.
I have some fond and …
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” ~Rumi
I had one of those really intense arguments with my partner recently, and it made me realize the importance of knowing how to fight well in a relationship.
That might sound like an oxymoron, but there isn’t a relationship I know of where the couple doesn’t fall out at one point or another. Fights can make or break a relationship. That’s why it’s important you know how to fight well—because the success of any relationship isn’t based on how well you manage the good times …
“When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” ~Fred Rogers
I was immediately uncomfortable when the older gentleman rode up on his bike and loudly told us that our kids shouldn’t be riding their bikes on the velodrome; it was against the rules.
If it had been just me and my daughter, I would have said no problem and left the area, maybe even apologized. But I wasn’t alone, I was with my friend and her son, and my friend doesn’t back down from confrontation like I do.
Instead of saying okay …
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia
From uttering unkind words to sleeping with unkind men, I’ve had many moments of shame in my life. Still, there is one particular moment of shame that stands out from the crowd. It happened at least ten years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I was strolling around downtown Toronto with a visiting friend when a rough-looking …
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ~Henri Nouwen
It’s hard to stand at the edge of someone else’s grief.
There’s the awkwardness. You always feel a little like an uninvited guest who arrived late and missed the first half of the conversation—a conversation that turns out to be a wrestle between another person …
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott
To say I had a tough life would be a gross understatement. Growing up in a strict Catholic Italian family I endured my fair share of emotional and physical abuse. I was unloved and suffered great violence at the hands of both my parents, mostly my father.
No one ever talked about this. On the outside, we were the ‘perfect’ family. Both my parents had decent full time jobs; Mom was heavily involved …
“True love is born from understanding.” ~Buddha
I believe one of our strongest desires in life is to feel understood.
We want to know that people see our good intentions and not only get where we’re coming from but get us.
We want to know they see us. They recognize the thoughts, feelings, and struggles that underlie our choices, and they not only empathize but maybe even relate. And maybe they’d do the same thing if they were in our shoes.
Maybe, if they’d been where we’ve been, if they’d seen what we’ve seen, they’d stand right where we …
“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone.” ~Jeanne McElvaney, Healing Insights: Effects of Abuse for Adults Abused as Children
When I first met my husband, when he had just started medical school at a large university, I thought he was just insecure. I believed that he would grow out of his need to be the center of attention, receive constant validation, and appear correct and knowledgeable about everything.
I believed he would become surer of himself and would …
“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits—anything that kept me small. My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” ~Kim McMillen
I like to think of my inner self as a curly-haired stick figure who lives inside my chest cavity. Like most inner selves, mine has a simple, childlike quality. She smiles when she’s happy and cries when she’s sad. She has an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong. She speaks her needs simply, the way a young girl might.
My inner …
“Bless the daughters who sat carrying the trauma of mothers. Who sat asking for more love and not getting any, carried themselves to light. Bless the daughters who raised themselves.” ~Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo
“I failed you…”
My mother said this to me after I confronted her about my childhood.
That day, I had a clear image of the young girl I was, the girl I had tried to ignore in the hopes of moving forward. But pain shouts when it demands attention, and the suffering was palpable.
A memory flashed within my mind. I had tried telling …
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
There I was again, regretting the spiteful words that had cascaded out of my mouth during a heated argument with my partner.
I felt that old familiar feeling, the burning in my solar plexus that bubbled up and erupted like a volcano, spilling out expressions of anger, blame, and criticism.
It had been a rocky few months, my partner was struggling to find consistent work, and our credit card debt was on the rise. Suddenly anger kicked in and I lashed out, accusing him of slacking off …
“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” ~Unknown
I’ve spent most of my life struggling with my weight and trying desperately to fit the idealistic image of beauty that our culture celebrates.
As a young teen, I was obsessed with magazines and all their secrets to be prettier and have a better butt and get your crush to notice you. I see now how desperate I was at such a young age to feel beautiful. Nothing seemed to work, though, as years passed and my need to fit the ideal beauty image only increased.
In high school I learned to skip …
“We are constantly invited to be who we are.” ~Henry David Thoreau
When your circumstances invite you to present your true self to others, do you accept the invitation?
I think of authentic communication as sharing the unfiltered essence of ourselves with others, including our identities, feelings, needs, boundaries, and desires.
It’s taken me many years to learn how to communicate this way. I’ve written in prior posts that speaking my truth once felt like an insurmountable challenge, like rolling an elephant up a hill or finding another living being who actually likes Nickelback. (Anyone? No?)
I was plagued …