Friday, February 16, 2018

Exactly What To Eat To Eat Healthy

It feels like it's been forever since I've done a healthy eating post, possibly because my own eating habits have been less than stellar as of late.  #total honesty  That said, I started this blog to write about things as an encouragement to others, but also to myself.  So here we are.  Today's post is essentially a roundup of my favorite healthy eating articles - my go-to posts from people who know way more than I do about clean eating.  Teamwork makes the dream work, after all! 

Seasonal Produce Guide -   I'm a huge fan of A Healthy Life For Me, a website dedicated to fresh, healthy recipes and menus.  My favorite part of the site is the seasonal produce guide, which tells you what fresh produce is best for each month of the year.  In case you're curious, February is ideal for Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, tangerines, and potatoes just to name a few!  Eating seasonal also helps you save money on fresh produce so it's a win/win!

A Full Week of Healthy Lunches and Snacks -  I don't know about you, but when it comes to healthy eating, I like someone to just tell me what to eat.  Just tell me the healthy foods to consume and I'll do it.  ;)  This site has a plethora of awesome recipes and healthy living ideas, but this is the most popular post on the site for a reason.  Definitely worth checking out!

Clean Eating Grocery List -  The grocery store is another problem for me at times, as there are just so many choices.  This comprehensive clean eating grocery list takes the guesswork out of what to put in your cart.  I find it super easy to use a service like Peapod and fill my online cart with items on this list...that way I'm not tempted in the store to go down the aisle with the cool ranch Doritos in it.  #againwiththehonesty 

50 Clean Eating Snacks -   Yes ma'am, here's another list that right up my (and hopefully your) alley.  I love the variety this list provides, proving once and for all that clean eating doesn't have to be boring. 

Healthy Meals You Can Make In 10 Minutes -   YES to this!  The weeknights can be such a struggle when it comes to dinner.  I find that when I'm tight on time, the meals are generally less healthy.  And then I found this little gem of an article and BOOM, game-changer.  Here are 5 days' worth of meals you can make in 10 minutes (or less!).   

I hope these clean eating and healthy living articles will be as helpful to you as they have been to me!  Let me know which one you're most excited about in the comments!  Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

* This post may contain affiliate links.  For my full disclosure policy, please visit my Advertise page.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Mom

Ah, motherhood.  I absolutely mean it when I say it is one of the biggest joys of my life.  I love my two boys with a crazy, amazing, fiercely protective love that I didn't know was possible until the minute I found out I was pregnant with my oldest.  From that very second onward, my heart and my hopes were forever changed.  I realize I'm still in the thick of it; I'm by no means a parenting expert, nor do I have things all figured out.  However, upon reflecting on the last few years of mamahood, I have realized there is one thing I wish I knew before becoming a mom that, had I known it from the get-go, would have made me a much more relaxed, easy-going mom.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

I can't control other people.

Not even the tiny ones.  Especially not the toddler ones.  And Lord help me when it someday comes to the teenage ones.

The ironic thing is that while I know this to be true in all other areas of my life, I've struggled to accept this truth as a parent.  It's not as if my desire to control my children came from a place of moodiness or malice.  When my boys were babies, I desperately wished I could control their sleeping through the night and napping (can I get an amen?!).  When they were toddlers, their potty training (seriously to this day, the fact that both my boys know where to put their 1s and 2s is one of my biggest life victories).  Now that they are in school, it is that they will obey my every command.

Ok, I know that last one sounds bad.  But still, at the heart of these things is a desire to smooth their paths, to make their lives easier, to keep them healthy and safe.  When they get enough sleep, they feel better.  When they get all their pee in the potty, mommy is happy (because the bathroom doesn't smell like urine 24/7).  When they listen to and obey my husband and I, they are learning what keeps them healthy and safe, and how to be kind humans.

The past eight years have been the craziest roller-coaster ride imaginable.  Sleepless nights revealed I had no clue what the meaning of "tired" was prior to becoming a mama.  Emergency room visits revealed I had no clue what worried meant before having my boys.  Cheeks hurting from too much smiling, tummies hurting from stomach bugs, eyes stinging from too many tears, both happy and sad.  Endless thoughts of my children and desperate prayers for their protection each and every day...these are a few markers of my motherhood journey thus far.  And while a part of me feels like I am just getting started, another part of me realizes how quickly my boys are growing up, and how soon they will be out on their own in this crazy world.  Which is why this song makes me weep every. single. time I hear it.  

When it comes to raising kids, the most important thing to remember doesn't come from a parenting book (even though I adore parenting books) comes from learning and re-learning the truth that I really can't control my children.  I can't make them obey me.  I can't make them sleep.  I can't make them eat (hellllp me, Lord!).  I can't make their friends be nice to them.  I can't make them do their homework.  I can't make them stop teasing each other.  I can't take all their worries away.  I can't, I can't, I can't.  And neither can you.

Yes, this is a universal truth that applies to all of us mamas (and papas).  Far too many things are out of our control.  The older they get, the more I realize it.  I want to make life as smooth and easy as possible for my children...but the reality is:  life isn't smooth and easy.  It's hard, it's full of difficult people and circumstances.  Life involves bullies, sick days, substitute teachers (anyone else's kids loathe having a sub?).  Life involves far too many problems I won't be able to solve for them.  And that's ok.

Slowly, but surely, I'm learning to relinquish my kung-fu grip on my kiddos.  I'm learning to accept, I'm practicing saying "it is what it is."  I'm hoping to model healthy coping and turning to God when mom and dad can't make everything better.  I'm trying to leave them in His capable hands instead of clawing and clutching for control all the time.

Some days, this is easier than others.  Some days, it feels close to impossible.  But I'm working on it.  One day at a time.  

Oh, and to my oldest boy, if you ever read this post:  I'm sorry.  I know I've been way harder on you than your brother at times, and I haven't meant to be.  Being the oldest is a difficult but awesome job.  Everything I'm learning about being a mom, I'm just kind of figuring out with you.  Thanks for your patience, buddy.  Your love and grace for me (especially when I blow it) astounds me every day.  I love you so incredibly much.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a mom?  Feel free to share it with us in the comments!





I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to .  All opinions expressed are my own and I never recommend a product unless I truly love it!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

3 Things To to Give Yourself Permission For ASAP

Today I want to share three of the most common roadblocks my clients tend to have, and how to give yourself permission to overcome them.  Because even when a therapist says the exact right thing in session, that's only a 50 minute block of your week.  The rest of the time, it's just you out there, and you'll need to consistently give yourself permission to overcome those roadblocks the other 10,030 minutes of the week.  

For some reason, there are certain things we have no problem saying to other people, but can't seem to bring ourselves to believe or apply to our own life.  For example, we may readily give a friend or co-worker a compliment on how nicely she is dressed today or how well her hair looks, and yet...rarely (if ever) do we stand before the mirror and give ourselves a similar compliment.  We seem ever-ready and willing to give our besties compassion and sound advice in their most difficult conundrums, and yet, we often struggle greatly within ourselves when it comes to what to do about things in our own lives. 

Believe me friends, this is a common occurrence.  The problem for most of us is that we, for a multitude of reasons, don't trust ourselves.  Perhaps you grew up constantly second-guessing yourself because, according to your parents, you could never do anything right.  Or maybe you suffered from low self-esteem due to bullying or feeling left out at school and so you learned to look to the crowd for what was right, neglecting your own instincts.  

Whatever the reason (and believe me, there are many more), most people struggle to give themselves the same compassion and sound advice they so easily give to others.  One of the main questions I ask my clients when they struggle to decide what to do in a certain situation is:  "If your best friend was in the exact same situation, what words would you say to them?  What advice would you give to them?"  It may take a bit of coaxing (some people will protest, stating all the reasons they're not like they're best friend or why their best friend wouldn't need advice...sigh), but eventually each person usually comes up with the exact right thing they need to hear, say, or do.  

It's a beautiful thing.  And not just because it makes my job a whole lot easier because my client just said the perfect thing so I don't have to.  ;)

Permission to Say No.  We might as well start with the biggie.  You have permission to say no.  To ANY and ALL things you don't want to do, hear, experience, participate in, belong to.  You don't have to have a reason beyond "I don't want to."  You certainly don't have to give an explanation beyond "no thanks."  You have permission to opt-out of anything that you don't feel is good for you.  You have permission to say SEE YA to unhealthy relationships with toxic people.  You have permission to set boundaries with your words and behavior.  You have permission to NOT DO anything you feel like you should do but don't really actually want to do.  You have permission to be good to yourself and maintain health in your life by only saying yes to things that align with that.  You also have permission to stop worrying about what people think of you and what they might say about you if you actually start living this way.  Trust me, friends...people-pleasing is for the birds.  

Permission to Forgive Yourself.  Oh, my sweet friends...this is another big one.  We simply aren't perfect.  Oftentimes, even with the best of intentions, we mess up, we fail, we say or do the wrong thing.  And usually what happens next is:  we spend the next 24 hours to 30 plus years berating ourselves for it.  Life is too short not to forgive in general, but it is way, way, waaaayy too short not to forgive yourself.  Whatever it is you are holding onto, please remember this rock solid truth:  every single day, you are showing up in your life and doing your absolute best.  No one wakes up and thinks:  I think I'll do everything horribly today...I think I'll make as many mistakes as possible and make a mess of my life on purpose.  Literally no one does this.  Instead, we wake up full of hope and promise that today we will do our best...we will show up to hard things and people and conversations and try.  

And sometimes, despite our trying, despite our very best efforts, we fail.  Yes, even though we showed up and did our best, our best might have included something we wish we hadn't said or done.  It might include a regret here or there.  It might include a desperate wish for a do-over.  And, friends...that's ok.  That's normal, even.  Why?  Because nobody's perfect.  So extend some compassion toward yourself and leave your past in your past.  I realize this is easier said than done, which is why I wrote this post.  

Permission to Trust Your Instincts.  Finally, give yourself permission to go with your gut and trust your instincts.  After a loooong struggle with indecision, I have finally come to realize what an incredible waste of life it is.  Being a bit type-A, I admit, I like to have things organized, stick to a schedule.  But then, that really doesn't leave much time for whimsy.  If we want to live joyfully and fully, we need to hone into our instincts.  They were, after all, given to us for a reason.  

We need to worry less about making a mistake (see above), and worry more about being fully present in our lives and living each day to the fullest.  Think about the decisions you typically agonize over, and find a way to go with your gut.  If you're still a newbie at this, that's ok.  Choose randomly by flipping a coin or using a randomizer form until you see that no matter what decision you make, it's not make or break.  Once you realize this, you will find it easier to trust yourself.  You will find yourself tuning in to what really sounds, looks, or feels good to you.  And then, ideally, you will do more of that.  

I hope this post can encourage you to give yourself permission to live your best life, my friends.  These struggles are common to most people, but just because they are common doesn't mean we have to accept them.  Please let me know if you have any questions!  





Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Top 10 Encouraging Books For Women

If you can't tell by now, I'm a huge book nerd.  I love reading, and as I mentioned here, it's one of my favorite forms of self-care.  I've also shared with you several of my favorite titles in the past, ranging from fiction to self-help books.  Today, I want to share a list of encouraging books, books that have spoken to me personally, or books that I've heard others say have spoken to them and they have now found a spot on my to-read list. 

Without further ado, here are my favorite encouraging books for women (though many are certainly geared toward both sexes; however, my audience is predominately female).

1. The Bible - I figured I should start with the book I read most.  Speaking from personal experience, this book is life-changing.  I would argue that no matter what you believe, the Bible is worth reading, as it is a book of major historical and moral significance.  To me, it is also so very much more, but we must all read it and determine for ourselves what it is to be in our own lives.  As far as encouraging books are concerned, I have found none better.

2. 31 Days To Managing Your Moods - Well, I feel a little sheepish including my own book - especially right after the Bible! ;)  But I do include it, because I'm confident it can empower and encourage you daily, over the course of one month.  At least, that's the feedback I'm getting so far.  I'm so thankful to have been able to write something for the sole purpose of encouraging people (but women especially!) that we don't have to be driven by our moods and that a balanced, healthy mindset is actually possible.  If you do read it, please email me and let me know what you think!  As always, I would love to hear from you.  

3.  Tell Me More -  Kelly Corrigan delivers again in this candid and relatable book that examines the twelve most difficult phrases we say in life.  Each phrase is a short-story from Corrigan's life and each is told in her distinct, moving style.  "I was wrong," "No," and, of course, "Tell me more" are just three of the things we all struggle to say at times; upon reading this book, we will be looking for ways to say them more often.  

4.  Soulful Simplicity:  How Living With Less Can Lead To So Much More - If you caught my most recent Facebook Live, you know how I feel about simplicity and minimalism.  In this book, Courtney Carver reveals allll the benefits of minimalism from improved health, to less stress, and so much more.  This book makes it easy to want to get rid of all the excess stuff that is holding you back!

5. Live Lagom - Touted "the new hygge" by some, lagom is the Swedish concept of living life in balance.  A home/work balance is a big part of lagom, but author Anna Brones gives a ton of actionable advice for making life happier and sweeter in this encouragement to intentional living.  Sign up for my FREE webinar on all things hygge to learn more fun ways to add comfort and coziness to your life!

6.  The Gifts of Imperfection - I talk about Brene Brown a lot...and for good reason.  This book is my favorite of hers because it is so relatable.  How often do we strive toward perfection, only to be disappointed or discouraged time after time as we fail to reach it?  This book reveals the gifts of being imperfect, as well as the 10 pillars of wholehearted living - notice how trying to be perfect and wholehearted living are basically opposites.  This is a book I come back to time and again for encouragement.   

7. Present Over Perfect - Well, I can't really say enough good things about this book either!  Shauna Niequist reveals her own struggles with perfectionism in beautifully written, short-essay form, but the book as a whole reveals her personal journey from perfectionist to healthy striver, making her a role model for setting boundaries, slowing down, and of course, self-care. 

8. For the love - And this is my favorite Jen Hatmaker book.  Again, written as a series of short essays, this book is witty, thought-provoking, and freaking hilarious.  I laughed out loud so many times reading it, and I also reached for a highlighter multiple times to just make sure I could go back and re-read all the best parts again and again.  Jen gives tools and tips for how to cultivate deep friendships, how to love others amazingly well, and how to live a meaningful life.

9. Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control of Your Life - Oh, gosh.  If I had a nickel for every time I recommended this book to a friend or client, I'd be sailing around the world on my private yacht right now.  Henry Cloud  & John Townsend have written the definitive work on codependent relationships, dealing with toxic people, and deciding what to say yes and no to in your life.  If any of these are a struggle for you, run, don't walk, to get this book!

10. The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism - Knowing what faith in God has done for me in my own life, I feel compelled to share a book that is relatable, and can help answer questions common to people who are uncertain about what they believe or why.  I, along with Brene Brown and many other clinicians have come to realize the place faith and spirituality have in wholehearted living (it's one of Brene's 10 pillars, y'all!); as such, I think it's important for every human to explore their own faith and really be able to give a reason for what they believe...not for the sake of arguing with others or being "right," but for the peace and joy it brings your heart when you have a rock-solid faith that can hold you up in the worst of times, and cause deep, deep gratitude in the best of times.  Dr. Timothy Keller addresses the concerns and questions of skeptics, appealing to everything from intellect, literature, philosophy, and even pop culture.  If you read this book, I'd love to hear what you think about it!

Ok, my friends...what encouraging books are you reading right now?  Are there any we should add to the list?  Let us know in the comments!  Have an amazing day, my Besties!


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to .  All opinions expressed are my own and I never recommend a product unless I truly love it!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

10 Simple Living Tips That Will Make Life Sweeter

Hello my friends!  I'm so excited to share today's post with you because it's on a topic I think we can all benefit from:  slowing down.  Yes, in this crazy, fast-paced world, I think a little piece of all of us wishes things were different, slower.  I think most of us appreciate the technology and information we have access to living in 2018, but perhaps there is a part of us that longs for a simpler time.  

Some of my favorite books are historical fiction (my favorite of all time, of course, being Little Women), and I think part of the reason why is that those books transport you to a simpler time.  A time when a rare bowl of ice cream or a bouquet of flowers were celebrated.  A time when people visited each other at their homes.  A time when afternoon tea was a thing.  I mean, come on...who wouldn't love to bring back afternoon tea?!

I know I'm not the only one whose heart and soul is longing for a little bit of yesteryear.  If you search the hashtags #simpleliving or #slowliving on Instagram you'll see what I mean.  Many people are starting to be more intentional about how they spend their time, what they buy, and how they live.  If simple living sounds like something you're ready to get on board with, here are ten good places to start.

1.  Minimize, minimize, minimize!  If you truly want a simpler, slower pace of life, the best place to start is by getting rid of A LOT of stuff you really don't want or need.  I started a capsule wardrobe not long ago, and it has been a game changer for me when it comes to deciding what to wear, packing for trips, and doing laundry ('cause there's WAY less of it, y'all!).  As I mentioned here, stuff keeps finding a way into our homes and unless we find a way to keep showing it the door, we're going to feel overwhelmed by it.  Think of a room in your house you want to start with, and then plan a time for a major purge.  You will be so glad you did.

2.  Take time to NOTICE beauty when you see it.  This is a very important mindset shift if you want to experience the joys of simple living.  When you see something beautiful, stop for a bit - even just a few seconds - and enjoy it.  It could be a colorful sky, your child laughing, or a gorgeous cupcake.  Whatever it is, really train yourself to appreciate all the sweet, simple pleasures in life. When you make up your mind to do this each day, you will be amazed at how much more positive your thoughts are, and how many beautiful things there are in this world.  

3.  Schedule some breaks into your busy day.  You must, must, must take time for self-care, friends.  Work hard, accomplish what you need to, but also know that you need some time to relax and enjoy life too.  Schedule your tasks for the day and maybe a coffee break or a FaceTime with a friend, whatever it is that will restore you during your busy day.  Be intentional about doing what is good for you.  

4.  Appreciate what you have.  Oh, I'll never stop singing your praises!  Gratitude is seriously a game changer.  When you spend time intentionally thinking about what you do have instead of what you don't, you will become less anxious, you will be happier, and you might even figure out world peace.  Ok, not sure about the last one, but any clinician will tell you...gratitude is where it's at.  Whether you start a gratitude journal, or use a simple form like this one, make practicing gratitude part of your everyday life.  

6.  Spend some time alone.  As an extrovert, I never cared to be alone for much of my life.  In fact, I found ways to outright avoid it.  But now I've realized that even the most extroverted among us need time just to ourselves.  We need time to be still, time to be with our thoughts, time to disconnect and just be.  Plan some time just for you as you plan each day.  

7.  Write letters.  Currently, I'm reading Sense and Sensibility and I have been struck by how much time the characters spend writing letters.  It makes sense, I suppose, given that they have no phones (cell or otherwise) or email, but I think there's something so beautiful and fun about a handwritten letter.  It's also so fun to receive them.  Think about a person who would love to receive a letter from you and plan a time to write to them.

8.  Make home your happy place.  Being so busy that we're never at home is the exact opposite of simple living.  Why not make home a place you want to be by adding some hygge to your decor, keeping your abode clean and organized, and displaying photos that are precious to you.    Sign up for my FREE webinar on all things hygge to learn more fun ways to add comfort and coziness to your life!

9.  GO OUTSIDE.  Ok, yes, home is now your happy place, but so is the great outdoors.  Seriously!  Even if you're indoorsy like me, there are so many amazing health and mental health benefits to spending time in nature.  Don't believe me?  Go outside for 15 minutes today.  Bundle up if you must, I know it's January.  You can take a cup of coffee out there with you, if you like, or just go for a brisk walk.  Make this a daily habit for one week and see what a difference it makes.  Trust me, you will feel so much more peaceful and energized.  

10.  Have a rotation of simple yet delicious meals you love and keep the ingredients on hand.  Ok, real talk, this is about not making 3809 trips to the grocery store in a week.  This is for me as much as anyone else.  Life would be a whole lot simpler for me if I would meal plan (I'm working on it!), but I'll start with this baby step, and you can too.  Think of three meals that don't require a lot of ingredients (maybe they're even meatless), and buy the ingredients for those meals maybe every other time you go to the store.  Keep your pantry stocked so you have the option to not keep running back and forth to the grocery store, and you can still make a lovely meal to enjoy with your loved ones, or have something to feed unexpected company with, even on short notice.  

Ok, my Besties, have I sold you on simple living yet?  What tips would you add to the list?  Here's to slowing down and making the most of each moment we are given!





Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Importance of Cleaning For Your Mental Health

Besties, I need to start this post off with a truth bomb:  I hate cleaning.  

There, I said it.  For so long, I have coveted the attitudes of the so-called "neat freaks" and "organized people."  Those Monica Gellarish types who seem to thrive on maintaining perfectly tidy homes.  Sigh.  I just don't have it.

Don't get me wrong...I mean, I do clean my home.  Regularly, I promise!  It's just that with two little boys running around leaving a regular trail of dishes, clothes, toys, and garbage as they go, it never feels all the way clean.  It's never ALL clean ALL the time.

By and large, I have come to accept this and I inhabit the happy middle ground of some cleaning will get done every day, but the house will never be perfect all at once.  Eh, so what?  Perfect is overrated anyway.  

But here's another truth:  life is all about balance.  And so is self-care.  Many people think of self-care as taking a bubble bath or getting a pedicure; and while pampering yourself definitely falls under the umbrella of self-care, so does adulting.  And yes, even cleaning.  

Even a non-clean freak like myself has got to admit:  I just FEEL better when the house is clean.  A clean (or mostly clean) space makes me feel accomplished and peaceful.  And get this:  it's not just me.  A 2016 Psychology Today article entitled "The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness" references several studies conducted in the mid-2000s that revealed cluttered and untidy spaces can cause people to feel depressed, fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, and develop sleep problems.  

Say what?!  

Well my friends, since zero of those things sound appealing, let's re-frame cleaning as self-care, shall we?  While some of you may already consider mopping as therapeutic as a massage (I salute you, you are and always will be #goals to me), there may be others of you who, like me, need a little convincing that cleaning actually improves your mental health.  To us, I give this advice:  Just do it.  Yep, I say that to my clients a lot because it is a well known fact (not to mention the underlying tenet of cognitive behavioral therapy) that if you want to change how you feel, you must first change what you do.  

For all of us who feel a little more like Lorelai Gilmore and a little less like Danny Tanner, here are some ways to make sure we don't neglect the cleanliness of our abodes to the detriment of our mental health:

1.  Hire someone to do it.  This is my favorite one, for obvious reasons ;)  There's no study I have read that says to reap the benefits of a clean home, you must actually be the one to clean it.  In the words of Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, I highly recommend it.  

Since, currently, my husband and I are choosing to allocate our funds elsewhere, I'll continue...

2.  Set an amount of time that you are willing to spend cleaning each day.  Set a timer and get 'er done.  Focus just on cleaning during that time and when that timer goes off, consider yourself done for the day!  Then reward yourself for a job well done.  I have found this method of speed cleaning particularly useful.

3.  Use a handy cleaning schedule to split your tasks up by day, week, month.  You can make your own or use one like this.

4.  Focus on decluttering.  Make one of your self-care activities on your list of favorite coping skills throwing away 10 items (or donating them).  No matter how much decluttering we do, there always seems to be more stuff coming in.  Keep on top of it by regularly purging things you no longer need or want.

5.  Realize that cleaning and organizing tasks don't actually take as long as you think they will.  Here is a list of household tasks you can do that take 10 minutes or less.   

6.  Visualize the end result.  Picture your space clean and free of clutter.  Imagine how you will feel once it is.  Even if it only stays that way for a relatively short amount of time (thanks, tiny people!).  Really get yourself to feel that accomplished and peaceful feeling that comes when your living space is so fresh and so clean.

Ok, my friends! What do you think about the importance of cleaning for your mental health?  Do you notice a difference in yourself when your space is clutter-free?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments!




Thursday, January 18, 2018

How To Deal With Toxic People

I'm not a huge fan of labeling people, but chances are, if you've lived long enough, you've encountered a person who could be considered toxic to you...someone you know is simply not good for you.  For one reason or another, this person may have hurt you or harmed you in some way, and, whether it happened once, or has happened repeatedly, you feel no desire to be around them as a result.  Your inner monologue regarding this person may have been the same from day one:  this person is not someone that is good for me to be around, or it may have shifted over time:  this person isn't who I thought they were and now I recognize that it's not good for me to be around them.  Regardless, there is a myth out there that I would like to dispel:  you do not have to associate with anyone whom you know is not good for you.  I repeat:  You do not have to maintain relationships with toxic people.  

Contrary to popular opinion, setting boundaries and doing what is best for you does not make you a "bad person," a "bad friend," or "mean."  In fact, going with your gut, trusting your instincts, and doing the difficult but beautiful work of determining how you will allow people to treat you is the epitome of health.  It is the epitome of self care and wellness.  And it is the epitome of love...because telling the truth and setting boundaries is always a loving act.  And only when we are willing to do this difficult but beautiful work will we be able to reap the benefits of maintaining healthy, thriving relationships. 

How to Know When To Set A Boundary Or Walk Away

Please don't misunderstand me:  I'm a huge proponent of believing the best of people and finding compassion for difficult people.   But there is a big difference between trying to love someone when they let their not-so-awesome side show (as we all do every now and again), and becoming a doormat.  So what is the difference?  How do you know when to keep showing up, keep trying to love and forgive and find a way to make things better...and how do you know when to walk away, to set firm boundaries, to enter into self-preservation mode?

Mostly this:  a pattern. 

If a person wrongs you once, ok.  We are all guilty of that.  Nobody's perfect.  If a person wrongs you happens.  Stay in a relationship long enough and it's bound to keep happening, right?  Of course it is.  What about three wrongs?  Well, that's up to you.  

To be honest, there isn't a "magic number" of times someone can hurt you before you know it's time to set some strong boundaries and/or walk away.  You have to listen to you, not me or anyone else.  But perhaps I can be of assistance as you consider these things.  The following is a list of what I (and most clinicians) would consider to be "toxic" personality traits, a list of warning signs, if you will.  

Constantly requires more of you than you are willing or able to give 

Takes advantage of you or manipulates you (or others)

Consistently invalidates your feelings

Never apologizes even when you make them aware they have hurt you

Is conceited, thinks they can do no wrong, has a very high view of themselves and a low view of others (and perhaps you)

Loves you one minute, can't stand you the next or makes you feel like "you never know what you're going to get" in terms of their mood

Is always so full of drama that you can't even

Disrespects boundaries you or others have set in the past

Is violent, rageful, or abusive emotionally, physically, or sexually (note:  if this happens ONE time, please get help immediately, do NOT wait, tell a trusted friend or family member and/or report to the appropriate authorities.)

I hope this list can shed a little light on the difficult topic of toxic people, my friends.  And if any of this sounds familiar to you, let me just say:  you do not have to take it anymore.  

How To Disengage 

The difficult thing for most people, when dealing with these toxic relationships is that they aren't easy to get out of, especially if you work with them, are related to them, or in general cannot avoid seeing them.  The easier thing to do in these cases is just keep the waters smooth.  As a recovering people pleaser, I know a thing or two about this.  But what I've come to find (and I hope you will, too) is that life is so much better, so much more free when you can find a way to disengage from people who repeatedly treat you terribly.  And also:  life is too short to be constantly engaged in drama and chaos.  Life can be chaotic enough without surrounding ourselves with unhealthy or unstable people.  

Once you have recognized a toxic person in your life and you have decided to do something about it, you are ready to disengage.  You can do that in a number of ways, and it's important to assess each individual situation to determine how best to go about this.  You may choose to confront the person (gently, speaking the truth in love) and tell them what you've been thinking and feeling.  That is a very brave and awesome thing to do.  However, you should know that a toxic person will probably not receive this well.  They will likely give you excuses, deny or place the blame on you or someone else.  Toxic people do not take responsibility for their actions.  They just don't.  

If you decide not to have this conversation (or maybe you've had it before and it didn't go so well), that's fine too.  In that case, you'll want to start setting those boundaries.  It's often helpful to make a list of what behaviors they have repeatedly done that have made you come to the conclusion they are toxic to you.  You don't need to share this list with anyone, but simply use it to process through what was harmful and unhealthy about their interactions with you in the past.  Then, do some journaling or talk to a trusted friend or therapist about what you will do to prevent these things from happening again in the future.  You can't control them, but you can definitely control you.  Will you avoid them altogether?  Will you change the places you are willing to hang out with them in the future?  Think of ways you can change your behavior so that this person is less of a problem for you going forward.  

Remain Cautiously Optimistic

I want to end on a more positive note, with another truth I have come to believe from years of working as a therapist and being a human.  People always, always, always have the power to change.  Even the most toxic person you know is toxic for a reason (they are likely hurting deeply within themselves), and if they awaken to the ways they hurt you, they can always make the choice to start taking responsibility for their past actions and make better choices going forward.  Remember that actions speak louder than receive their words, but then look for their actions to change.  When someone has repeatedly hurt you, it is crucial to take what they say with a grain of salt, and instead examine what they do.  

I hope this can strengthen and encourage some of you today.  I know relationships aren't always easy and I'm here to help if you need a little extra guidance or support.  Lots of love to you all today!

*** If you love this post, there's a good chance you'll love my book 31 Days to Managing Your Moods.  You can check it out here! ***



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