Tag Archives: Self-Awareness

How Can I Love Myself?

Dear JoyDiva

I am 23 years old, I have been in  a relationship with a man for 7 years and we broke up a over a year ago, 8 months ago I found this amazing man that I am with now; he makes me laugh and  I know we are going to go far but there is one thing that is hurting me.

When I was a teen I developed back acne and as I got older,  the scars remained…when my ex saw my back for the first time the  first thing he said was “Is it contagious?” and “What did you do to yourself?” as if it was my fault! He was the closest person to me and he made me feel like I had a disease. Ever since I have not been comfortable with my skin and I never show my back. I would like to be able to wear tank tops and dresses without having to wear a jacket on top, it’s hot! But the most thing I want is to be able to be happy naked around my current boyfriend.

Just a side note, I am chubby and that adds to my insecurities but he is a big man also so it is not the biggest issue but I still push his arms away from my tummy. He says he loves everything about me and he shows me a lot of love he always tries to make me love myself, he kisses my “thunder” thighs and my belly but I push him away. We have slept together and every time I refuse to take off my shirt, and if I do take it off the room must be pitch black because I don’t want him to see my skin.

I just want to be happy and not worry, I want to be able to sleep next to him and not panic over what he’s going to wake up to…my scarred back. I love him very very much and we have talked about engagement but I don’t know how I will manage to keep my body hidden for the rest of my life from the man I truly adore and just want to be free with.

How can I love myself JoyDiva, I have been crying every night and hiding those tears because I’m afraid if I do tell him he will ask to see my back…I just can’t do it.

Sincerely

Broken

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Dear Broken,

Hi, Honey. You’re not broken. You are a whole and complete person who is just experiencing herself as broken. The great news is that, over time, you CAN transform how you experience yourself.

So, you dated a guy (who was really just a grown-up boy) who blurted out his thoughts about your skin in ignorance because he didn’t get it, and likely was not mature enough to communicate in another way—not his most shining moment, I’m sure. :/

Here’s what I want you to notice, though: He said some things, and then because you’re human, you added meaning to it. And it’s the meaning you added that is causing your pain. You added meaning like “It’s my fault”…which I’m guessing led to “There’s something wrong with me,” “I’m ugly/unattractive/not sexy,” and “I’m unlovable.” And at some point you chose to believe those thoughts, which is what hurts so much—you can be certain that anytime you are having thoughts that hurt when you think them it is because they aren’t true.

Here’s the good news: Because it’s not what happened that hurts so much and rather it’s the meaning that YOU brought to it, you can actually do something about that. You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to letting those thoughts run the show or not.

You ask me how you can love yourself. Here’s how: By courageously taking action as someone who loves herself, step-by-step, choice-by-choice. You’re going to have to take deep breaths and face your fears. That looks like catching yourself when you push his arms away from your tummy and letting him caress you there while you breathe and allow your fear to move through you, letting him kiss your belly and thighs without pushing him away while you breathe and allow your fear to move through you. That looks like taking off your shirt WITH the lights on while you breathe and allow your fear to move through you. That looks like wearing tank tops when it’s hot out, and wearing whatever damn-well feels good whenever and however you want to, all the while breathing and being present to the fear…and any other emotions that arise in your body.

Loving oneself is not a magical, wave-the-fairy-wand, overnight process. Everyday, I discover more parts of myself that I’ve rejected and have the opportunity to embrace. Girl, I don’t love myself! And I’m becoming someone who does. Loving yourself means facing the fears that you won’t be safe, you won’t be in control and you will lose approval. It means practicing, every day, doing the opposite of what the bully inside of you is telling you to do.

I get that it is scary. You probably didn’t want me to say, “Go do all of the things you’re afraid to do.” AND you asked me how you can love yourself. How blessed are you?! I’m showing you the path.

Your homeplay: Pull out a journal or pieces of paper and a pen/pencil. I want you to answer this question and explore it in all areas of your life: What would I be doing/what actions would I be taking if I were a person who loves herself? (Explore how you would be acting regarding relationship stuff and body stuff, yes, and also look at career, free-time, friendships, family, money, etc.) And then, start practicing. Take those actions, one at a time. And remember to breathe, Love. You’ve got this.

It is through that continual process that you become someone who loves herself.

Other posts that I’ve written that will also be supportive for you:

“How can I love myself past all of my fat rolls?”

“I’m afraid to be naked in front of my boyfriend. What should I do”?

If you would like some additional support in taking a look, getting underneath, and transforming those painful thoughts and gaining clarity and freedom on your path, I would be honored to hold-up a loving mirror so that you can experience yourself in all of your magnificence and step into your power. Visit my website to schedule a free connection call so that we can explore what that could look like.

Hugs to you and that sweet man in your life.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2015 Melissa Simonson

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How Do I Know If It’s True Love?

Dear JoyDiva,

Is it possible to fall in love truly with a person you haven’t personally met yet? I met a guy on the internet and I think I have fallen in love with him but he’s half the world away and I haven’t personally met him yet. We communicate on Skype and I wanna know if true love could exist even without meeting each other yet. And how do I know if it’s indeed true love? Please help me. People say I am too young to know what true love is. Thank you. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. I’ve been reading a lot of your entries and it’s helping me a lot.

19’sTooYoungToFallInLove

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Dear 19’sTooYoung,

Hi there, Darlin’. To address your questions as a whole, I want to say this: Take your time. Explore. Get a little messy in the learning process. Enjoy yourself, and know that when it comes to true love, there is no rush to know if it is a “for the rest of your life” kind of thing or a “just for now” kind of thing.

I see that you have found someone with whom you’ve had an initial spark, which is exciting! It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time chatting on Skype, which is certainly a useful means to get to know someone halfway across the world, and to feel attraction and discover how you communicate. It is a worthy starting point. Do you need to meet him to fall truly in love? Well, my dear, I think that you’re asking the question because you kind of already know the answer. Relationships certainly can’t fully blossom from a distance—there is all kinds of real life, day-to-day stuff that you need to experience together before you can really know what your bond is made of. Right now, you have the initial seedlings of love. You have the romantic feelings and the joy of possibility. Those are wonderful things worth exploring, and I bet you are learning a lot about yourself in the process…which is the true gift of relationship.

People have said that you are too young to know what true love is—well, I hate slapping age labels on things because I’ve met some extraordinarily astute ladies your age, but I’m going to say that there is of course, a fair amount of truth to this statement, no matter how astute that you are. True love comes as a reflection of how deeply you love yourself, and my dear, you are only just discovering who you are. Is it possible that at your age you can meet someone who you could enjoy spending the rest of your life with? Yes—I know a handful of people who are married to people they met when they were teens. With that said, if you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone, I want to stress again that there is NO RUSH in knowing that—that long-term commitment will come out of doing a whole lot of learning and growing together and as individuals over time, and you will know it’s right because your love for one another, and for yourselves, will continue to grow through that bond. You know it’s “true” because you continue to be true to yourself, you continue to pursue your own passions, advocate for your needs, and you cheer on and support your partner as he does the same. You know it’s “true love” because as you continue to communicate honestly about who you are, as you be more and more fully YOU and live your life to the fullest, he will still be at your side, loving you all the way and vice versa.

I want to invite you to commit yourself to an adventure in intimacy, and not the idea that you will be with this particular person forever. What I mean by that is this: It can be so easy to get attached to the idea that, “This person who I’m loving right now HAS to be ‘the one.’ It’s him that I want and nothing can sway me from that,” but coming from that place makes it really easy to tune out what your heart is telling you and to start sacrificing who you are and what you need in order to be happy—no person or relationship is worth your compromising who you are and what you really want, ever. (Love at ALL costs is not actually true love.) Instead, I want you to see this relationship experience as an opportunity to learn as much about him and about yourself as possible. Recognize when your “forever” agenda can get in the way of your fully sharing about yourself or asking him clear questions for fear that you might lose him because of the answers you find. The most important relationship that you will have, the one that it is your primary job to nurture, is the one that you have with yourself.  Be committed to discovering what he really values and be honest with yourself and him about what you really value. Tune into your inner “yes’s” and “no’s” in response to all that you are discovering—“Does what I’m discovering make me feel free and alive?” or “Does it make me feel constricted and drained?” If all that you discover in this relationship continues to make you come alive, then by all means, keep saying “yes” to discovering more! But please don’t give up any of your own dreams or make a choice that makes you feel stuck in order to make the relationship happen—then it is not true love and you’ve mistreated your dear, sweet self for the sake of someone who is not right for you.

Let this relationship experience be a glorious opportunity to discover who YOU are and all that you want for your life. I encourage you in your own time to do some journaling around all that you envision for your life as well as qualities that are really important to you in a potential life partner. Continue to get clearer and clearer on what it is in your own life as well as in a relationship that makes your heart sing, and then be as honest as you can possibly be in every aspect of your life. Through knowing yourself and expressing yourself honestly, you will discover the love that is true and the love that isn’t. And most of all, HAVE FUN! You have a lifetime to fall in love with all that you are and that is something to celebrate.

Much Love, Dear Heart.

:) Melissa, A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

I’m Afraid to Show My Boyfriend I Love Him…Can You Help?

Hello JoyDiva,

Let me tell you how thankful I am for finding you, even though I don’t know you :’) My question is, well is more my issue, is that you see I do not know how to love my boyfriend, I feel like if I show him how much in love I am for him he’s gonna get tired of me 😦 Please help me!

StarstruckbyWatermelons

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Dear StarstruckbyWatermelons, (You could make a hit record with a name like that! ;))

Without knowing a lot of back story (i.e. how long you’ve been with your boyfriend, your relationship history, what it means for you to “show” your love, etc.), I’m not going to focus on any of those sorts of specifics here.

What I can say is this: There is nothing that you have to do or be other than exactly who you are to be worthy of a deeply nourishing and unconditionally loving relationship. Your fears of rejection are completely normal, and it’s 100% OK for you to take baby steps when it comes to revealing your vulnerability in your relationship—there is no need to put all of your emotions on the table at once if that is something you are not ready for. Building a foundation for a lasting relationship happens step by step—it takes time to build intimacy, to reveal piece by piece if your relationship has what it takes to flourish and endure, and taking things slowly is a most excellent way to ensure that you’ve got yourself a good one. If he’s the right guy for you, then he’s gonna relish in taking his sweet time and in building something true and lasting with you, too.

I hear that you really like this guy and are afraid to make a wrong move. As really, super-duper, incredibly scary and vulnerable that it may feel, the thing is that when you choose to express your truth—whether that means that you gush all over him with love or express your need to take your sweet time in sharing your love for him or simply just let him know that you’re kind of freaking out—you always win, he wins and the relationship wins, too. Here’s the deal: you actually don’t need your boyfriend’s love or approval—as scary as it seems in your mind to experience him disapproving of you and/or walking away, you have everything that you need within you to pick up your life and create insane amounts of joy. By choosing to express yourself honestly, you are not only loving him, you are creating the opportunity for you to be TRULY loved for completely who you are. If he isn’t ok with how you share your love, then let him go, darlin’; because that means that you aren’t a right fit for one another, and there is another man out there who is gonna be THRILLED to receive love just the way you know how to give it. Hiding yourself so that you can keep a relationship that may or may not be right? Well, that is selling you, your boyfriend and your relationship way, way short of all of the goodness that could exist in your lives. When you speak your truth, everyone wins—you and your boyfriend both get to see if your relationship has what it takes to serve you both to the fullest and then choose accordingly for your lives. It may sound cliche, but the truth really does set us free—free to be who we really are, have what we really want and deserve, and it opens us to all of the joy that can come with that freedom.

So, I want to ask you: What is it that you really want in a relationship? What does your dream partnership look like? What do you need in order to feel cherished in your relationships? Your homeplay: Go ahead and make a really long, juicy list in answering these questions—really go all out with this one. I have a strong feeling that a core piece of your dream relationship includes you getting to be COMPLETELY yourself and being loved for it. (At least I hope so!) Some other things that you might want to include are: “I can express myself fully and it only makes him love me more.” “I can take my precious time, and my partner will not only understand, but respect and cherish the choices that I need to make for myself.” Have fun with this—it’s so important that you get really clear on what you want to be experiencing so that you can build a relationship from that awareness. The world needs you to be fully YOU, and any relationship that doesn’t support you in your “you-ness” isn’t doing any of us justice.

So, make your list, and then I want you to explore some of the ways that you can ensure that you have all of those pieces that you want. One clear way right off the bat is in choosing to share all of yourself—your boyfriend may or may not choose you in the end, but by choosing to share your truth, you are being your best partner, you are choosing yourself. There is a deep and lasting joy that can be discovered when you realize that you will always have your own back.

I want to close with sharing a video of me performing my upcoming single, “I’m Free”–it’s all about the joy and freedom that we discover when we choose ourselves. May this song serve as a loving reminder of your inherent worth and power.

Much love to you and your boyfriend, Dear One.

🙂 Melissa, A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

What Can I Do About My Relationship with my Family?

Hello,
I found your site through Jenny Shih’s.  Although I don’t personally know either of you, I am a big fan of each of your gift’s.  I just got through reading your response to the woman with her daughter.  I listened to your song afterwards and it made me cry.
Here’s my situation: I had a 40th birthday mid July.  I have a younger sister (by 2 years) move back to live temporarily a block away with my parents a few months ago.  I live in my brother’s house. My sister & I weren’t close growing up, but in the last 11 years we’ve continued to get closer.  She’s on a spiritual path to become a shaman in South America and my brother is a regular construction guy that really doesn’t get me or my sister half the time. Bottom line, I’ve been having a hard time feeling connected to family and friends in my life lately. I’ve had a lot of change in this last year too. Relationship breakup, 15 yr bff “break up”, move my business to brother’s as well as myself. I feel connected to the universe, as I had an extreme experience with death that gave me a close relationship a few years ago. I try to be very mindful of how I speak to myself, others and how things feel in my body as I say things and what I eat in general.
So my sister texted me to ask what I had planned for my birthday a week before the date.  I thought about it and asked if she might be interested in planning something.  She was just getting back from a trip, so I said to think about it over the weekend and just let me know by Monday… I said I wanted her to do it ONLY if she felt inspired to.  This year, I didn’t feel great about planning anything big as I really wasn’t talking to many of my old friends.  I felt like I was still grieving 2 really important relationships. I did want to celebrate but didn’t want to plan something myself unless my sister didn’t want to.
So ultimately my sister said she wanted to do something for my birthday but then proceeded to tell me that she wondered if I would mind if it was celebrated on the day before or the morning of because she was feeling spiritually called to meet this woman for a vision board party.  I could tell she wanted me to be excited about it but I felt like I second best and not very special at all.  She berated me and said “see!! you do have preferences!” To me, it felt like she wanted to prove that I wouldn’t be able to let go of control and let someone plan something for me.(which I honestly would have been fine with anything but I just wanted it to be a surprise and planned for me) Anyway, she said that it’s obvious that she wasn’t the one to plan it and that was that. My birthday was good anyway, but obviously spending it with 2 girls I recently met was odd since my whole family lives one block away and up the stairs from me.
(Obviously there are issues of connection that go way back to childhood that I keep hoping will workout.)
So, I wasn’t expecting anything from my parents because I had asked if they might want to visit Colorado together for my birthday celebration.  The trip was scheduled for a few weeks after my birthday…
During those 2 weeks I went to a tarot card reader who told me some disturbing information.  She said that my sister and I would have a big fight and that there would be an emotional break. Something gut wrenching and emotionally tough.
I told her that we already had a big fight…she said that there will be another one but more so and that my brother and her will conspire together to work against me in some way. She also said during this time that I need to stay true to myself, hold strong, that I will find love within myself.
So I didn’t sleep that night much because it felt so true, but so surreal…but I calmed down eventually and took it with a grain of salt.  My brother did not go on the trip but my sister did.  We ended up having a good time and had a wonderful heart felt talk on the Colorado Trail.  We didn’t talk specifically about the bday fight but broad strokes about our career’s and our heart’s desire about them and how we wanted to be there for the other one.  I thought that the lady must have been wrong or that we had changed our destiny by talking things through.
Not so.  Tonight she came over and I helped her with getting some ideas on paper for her website.  She listened to me (which I’ve been desperately praying for someone to be a sounding board and a cheer leader to show up) talk about my fears surrounding my upcoming business changes and even shared some tears about my still tender heart surrounding my ex…
Then somehow we got on the subject of the fight around my bday. I told her that it hurt me deeply and that I felt second best, and that I wanted to know her thinking surrounding everything.
She said the she heard me but that she didn’t believe in saying sorry because it makes one person wrong and the other right.  She felt that I wanted her to heal something inside myself that she couldn’t.  I obviously wanted to understand and have a heart felt sorry.  Then she says that I am very ridged and it’s hard for people to be open with their hearts around me..and that I’ve always been controlling all of my life and that I should ask anyone and they would tell me.
Her eyes were piercing and so enraged. I said that I know I haven’t been a good sister growing up and I am sorry for anything that I’ve done to make her feel so angry.  She said that she is angry because she’s responding to the frustration I put on her regarding my brother. Ugh!–at that moment I remembered the tarot card reader say that lots of my cards were Higher Arcana and that means the circumstances are just fate.
How do I show up for myself, protect my heart, not over react and stay grounded?
Sorry this is so long and I would understand if you might not want to respond as this seems somewhat unusual.  (I want a good relationship with my family but my intuition says that my siblings can’t see me for who I really am right now)

Sisterly Love Gone Wrong

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Dearest Sisterly Love Gone Wrong,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out—know that you are not alone in your struggles with your family relationships and your willingness to share will bring great insight to other readers. I’m going to do my best to keep my response as short and sweet as possible—you’ve given me a lot to chew on, but responding point-by-point is not what I feel is needed right now.

With that said, one specific that I must respond to up front has to do with your reading from the Tarot card reader. I’m going to preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I’ve had some great readings in my day and as an Astrologer, am fully aware that there are some amazing healers out there who use a wide array of modalities to connect people to their truth, Tarot being one of them. But here’s the deal: YOU are 100% in the driver’s seat with regard to your relationships with your family, not fate. How you choose to perceive their actions, what you project onto them, how you choose to react—you create the stories that shape how those relationships will unfold. Will they “conspire” against you? Perhaps. But that sounds like classic, manipulative hooey from a “psychic” who’s using her gifts in questionable ways.  Instead of focusing on some fatalistic advice from someone who just met you about a future that you have yet to create—information that is  already causing you to painfully project that reality onto your family relationships—why don’t we shift your focus back to you, the only person whose actions you can actually affect in this situation (or ever, for that matter)?

On one level, I hear you saying that you want to have good relationships with members of your family, and I believe that there is truth to that. On an another level, I also hear that you bring a lot of expectations, a lot of “should’s” to those relationships. If you really look at what you are saying, it looks more like, “I can only love you and be in relationship with you if you love me the way I want you to love me.” You’re bringing all kinds of thoughts that are gunking up these relationships that are clearly of great value to you—thoughts of, “It’s your job to be there for me. It’s your job to understand me and accept me. It’s your job to love me. Family is supposed to put family first. I’m second best and not very special to you at all. Given that my family lives so close, they should be the ones to plan and celebrate my birthday with me, etc. ” And thanks to the Tarot card reader, you can throw in the thought, “My brother and sister are conspiring against me.” So many thoughts that are creating your suffering as your mind argues with reality.  Who do you become/how do you react/how do you treat them and yourself when you believe these thoughts? You create a pain-inducing filter through which all of their words and actions flow. Your mind looks for ways to prove that these thoughts are true and you create pain and suffering as your thoughts argue with what is. Who would you be without these thoughts? How would you be in relationship with your family if you weren’t attaching to these limiting beliefs that are untrue? (My guess is free…and full of love and acceptance for not only yourself, but your bro and sis, too.)

Yes, family relationships can be challenging as hell because we have more years with those people than with anyone else to create false stories that make them hell—stories we created as children with under-developed brains to try and make meaning of our experience. If we don’t stop to question those stories we live in a continual horror story of our own making. We become wounded victims who can only be healed if our family becomes who WE want them to be rather than who they are because—somehow in our minds, they are “supposed” to love us and be there in all of the ways that we want and need. Dear one, you have been so focused on having your family love and accept you for who you are and be there for you in the ways that you want them to be—which can actually only be YOUR job—that you are not noticing all of the ways that you are not loving and accepting, being there for them OR yourself.

I’m glad to hear that the words of my song touched you because they are good medicine for you hear, right now. “The truth is, we’re all trying to be good, and all of us just want to be understood. And when we seek the truth through another’s eyes, we realize that we are all the same…when we forgive ourselves and love despite our frailties, we are divine.” What if you came from the thought, “My brother and sister’s actions toward me come from a place of good intentions?” From that place you might see that despite not being able to relate to your spiritual journey or growth path (it’s not actually his job to understand you, it’s yours), your brother loves you so much that he is sharing his home with you. You might see that your sister was trying her best to honor all of her priorities around the time of your birthday. She wanted you to feel loved and she was also trying to honor herself. When you surrender your personal agenda, you also would be able to see that those two new friends that you got to hang out with were the perfect right people for you to spend your birthday with, not your sister. You enjoyed yourself. Perfect. As it should be. What a gift that your sister offered you by choosing not to plan your birthday for you—you got to spend it with people who were able to be fully present and wanting to celebrate with you.

As painful as it is, I invite you to listen to your sister with an open mind and heart. As my favorite spiritual teacher, Byron Katie, says, “Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.” In what ways is your sister communicating truth to you in what she is saying? I’m sure that she can be just as rigid and controlling as she is accusing you of, but changing her behavior is not your job—changing YOUR behavior IS. It only takes one person in a relationship to step back, to seek to understand, to see loving intentions and to choose to act from a place of love. It only takes one person in a relationship to transform it. Why not have it be you?

Whether or not you choose to mend these relationships is up to you—there is no “right” or “wrong” choice here. I just want to challenge you to notice how freeing it can be when you let these wonderful relationships transform you by choosing to do the hard work of listening and questioning your own mind—who’s been making you second best, who hasn’t been accepting and loving, who has been generating mistrust, who’s been conspiring behind the scenes? Every relationship in your life is a mirror for you to see your relationship with yourself and who you are being in the world—where you’re not trusting yourself or others, not advocating for yourself, not speaking your truth, not being a good cheerleader, not fully listening. There is freedom in these relationships with your family members and deep love, if you choose to allow those relationships to breathe as they really are.

I highly recommend any of Byron Katie’s work for you–I think you will find great insight there.

Much love to you,

:) Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

How Can I Mend My Relationship With My Daughter?

Dear Melissa,

I was spending some time with my sister (from the land of oz) and she suggested I contact you. I need some help with my relationship with my daughter. I found out after 15 years of being together my husband was having an affair. We had an awesome relationship, never fought, enjoyed many of the same things, but our physical relationship had vanished. I was devastated at this discovery. I was willing to try and work out our issues, but he wanted no part of it. He moved to another city 250 mile away and he filed for divorce. I was in counseling for months. My spouse had a great relationship with my daughter, her husband and 9 year old grandson prior to these events. We used to go to all our grandsons sporting events, had frequent overnights at our house, and they were fishing buddies. My counselor said it was important for the relationship between my X husband and grandson should be allowed to continue. Over time, my daughter stopped giving her son the letters that my x sent. Although my x and I didn’t talk much in the beginning of our separation, we have reconnected in the last 8 months. Last October my x was in town for the weekend. My daughter had asked me to pick my grandson up after work and take him to soccer practice. As it turned out my grandson also spent the night. The 3 of us had an awesome time together, just like times spent together in the past. My daughter is furious that I allowed my grandson to see his papa without her knowledge. I told her I was sorry she was upset with my decision. She chooses not to forgive me because I am not sorry for what I did. My daughter is very controlling and is allowing her hurt and anger at my x husband to affect the relationship between my grandson and his papa. She wants to hash out what happened 4 1/2 months ago. My feeling is that there are times you have to agree to disagree. Regardless of what happens between me and my x, it is important that my grandson understand both of us continue to love him. My x and I may live in different cities, but we talk daily and are trying work out our differences. Since my daughter and I are now not speaking, she has asked that I stop going to my grandsons activities. I view this as her way of punishing me for my actions since we don’t agree on this issue.

I am interested in your thoughts.

Oz’s Sister

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Dear Oz’s Sister,

Thank you for sharing your story with me–I’m honored that your sister sent you here, and that you chose to reach out.

When I read through your email, it made me want to take a big, deep breath and just let it out. I’m going to invite you to do that with me right now. Just take a couple of deep breaths, and let them go.

There are all kinds of emotions flying high here, yours, your daughter’s and your ex-husband’s, and it’s really easy for each of you to get too much in each other’s business and try to control what is out of your control. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Byron Katie, says in her book Loving What Is:

I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation.

Telling your daughter what she should do, and judging her for her reactions is getting out of your business and into hers, and it is clearly creating hurt, frustration and separation. You say that she is controlling. I want you to turn that around, dear one, and say to yourself, “I am being controlling. In what ways is that true?” You went ahead and decided what is best for your daughter and her child without her consent. (I get that you felt justified in your actions, yet still, withholding information is controlling, no?) You’re creating all kinds of suffering for yourself by trying to convince her that you are right and she is wrong. You are trying to mend a relationship between father and daughter that is out of your control. I would be feeling pretty crappy in that space too!

Every judgement that we hash out and every bit of advice we give to others is always meant for ourselves–look at your judgements of her and your advice to her and than turn them around. What is it that you are needing to look at and not owning within yourself? You advise her to agree to disagree with the choices you made 4.5 months ago. Let’s turn your advice around: Can you agree to disagree with her choices in parenting your grandson? It sounds like agreeing to disagree…or even better, meeting each other with compassionate understanding, is good medicine for you both. Even your interpretation that she is “punishing” you is a reaction to her behavior based on your own feelings of guilt. I realize that it can be painful to turn the lens around and take responsibility for your part in this, but as soon as you can truly own how you are contributing to this situation and making it more painful for yourself than it has to be, you can free yourself and your relationship with her from this pain and suffering.

I’m seeing that there is a great need for you all to step back and give this situation, and the people involved (including yourself) the time and space to process and heal. I’m sorry to hear that your grandson has been pulled into this, and yet, chances are that it is the grown-ups and not your grandson who are suffering greatly in response to this time–most kids only suffer over grown-up problems when grown-ups convince them that they have a reason to be upset. If he doesn’t know that it’s a problem, then it isn’t a problem. There is no need to project your grown-up problems onto him–the truth is, he will be just fine when this all blows over as long as he’s allowed to think and feel on his own about it. I’m not saying that he is not missing you and his papa, but even the experience of missing someone only becomes truly painful when we are taught that our happiness is somehow dependent on those people. The truth is that your grandson does not NEED you in order to be happy. That hurts a little, I know. And yet, isn’t it so much better to realize that he can be ok, no matter what, with or without you in his life?! You all have done a good job of making this about your grandson, and yet, the chances of him being just fine are pretty good.

It’s the grown-ups who have gotten all up in each other’s business and are creating the suffering here. Everybody wants everyone else to listen and understand. Everybody wants everybody else’s love and forgiveness, and no one is willing to own his/her part. Your daughter’s estrangement is likely triggering feelings of guilt and remorse in your ex-husband, and so he’s looking to her (and it sounds like to you, as well) to solve that for him, and he is the only one who can actually heal that wound that he is carrying–whether or not he made the right choice to have the affair and leave is not the point, if some part of him feels ashamed about his choices (most people do harbor guilt when they have affairs), he needs to own that and give himself some love and understanding. The less he seeks it from her and lets her heal in her own time, the more likely she will re-engage with him in a way that works for both of them when she is good and ready. It’s not her job to forgive him. It’s his job. It’s also not her job to forgive you, sister. That’s your job.

You’ve been so focused on feeling responsible for mending this situation and being “right” that you are discounting your daughter’s feelings. Let your daughter have her hurt and anger. Even better, seek to understand it! She doesn’t need your judgement and advice. She wants your love and understanding. Listen to her. Ask her what SHE needs in order to heal, and really listen. Own your part in this situation. Surrender your need to be right–it only takes one person in a relationship to end this kind of power struggle. Why not have it be you? We all want to feel loved, understood and validated–give that to her, and you’ll get it back 10-fold.

I want to leave you with a song that I wrote after having a painful misunderstanding with someone important to me. May these words be healing for you as they were for me when I wrote them.

Much Love to you.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

What is the Best Way to Cope With My Anger When I Witness People Judging Others?

Dear Melissa,

I have been finding lately that I have become particularly sensitive to one of my pet-peeves–when others are judgmental or demeaning of others. For a while, I used to be able to turn the other cheek to it, and sort of coach myself into not letting it affect me (“Oh, you know that isn’t really true,” “What a person says about someone else really has more to do with how they feel about themselves than the other person,” etc.) While intellectually I know these are true (and are also applying to myself in this instance), I still have been finding myself fuming when I hear these harsh criticisms, and it is hard for me not to snap, and if I don’t snap I find myself taking it out passive-aggressively at that person.

I can see part of my sensitivities being that I can relate to the person they are criticizing and in turn feeling belittled myself. I also see that I, too, am being critical of these people in their judgmental moments.

Needless to say, while I can recognize these things intellectually, I still get so caught up in my anger that I really can’t experience things that way at the moment. Do you have any advice for moving through these feelings and cultivating more acceptance for those people and myself? Also, do you have any recommendations for ways to acknowledge my feelings in the moment, but not create a “scene” when I start to fume?

To be honest, as I am writing this I am starting to see that I am afraid of those people thinking that I am less than perfect by giving in to my anger…and also afraid that I might really let loose if I allow myself. But I would still really appreciate your thoughts.

Sincerely,
The Hulk

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Dear Hulk (great name) :),

There are a couple of things here that I want to touch upon. First of all, you bring much wisdom with this inquiry: Your anger is most certainly exacerbated by your own self-judgments. Your mind is telling you in those moments that it is not ok to have a voice, that your thoughts and feelings are in the wrong, that you shouldn’t get angry, and well, that would make the best of us scream in frustration. Your anger comes in reaction to a thought that is untrue: “You shouldn’t judge people.” What is reality telling you? That this person is judging people. That you are judging this person. That you are judging yourself. The truth is, this is what we as people do. We judge. “The sky is blue.” “He’s really tall.” “She’s black.” “She’s white.” “I’m smart.” “I’m too emotional.” “My anger is wrong.” People judge–being “perfectly” human means being a judging being.

You are, of course, smart in seeing that you are merely exercising your own judgment when you tell others they shouldn’t judge. That is a great moment to come back to your own business and step away from what you can’t actually control (the other person’s business). Who would you be, how would you react if you didn’t believe the thought, “You shouldn’t judge people?” Experience that person saying something judgmental. Really go into that space and envision yourself without the thought, “You shouldn’t judge people.” Would you perhaps feel less responsible for correcting it, more understanding, more patient, etc.? You fill in the blanks. Now I want you to turn it around–in what ways are you judging both yourself and that other person? (You gave a great example of self-judgment by recognizing that you react to those judgments made by others in part because you believe that those are true judgments about yourself). Look at you and that person doing what humans do. The more that you question these thoughts, the more you will discover your inherent compassion for yourself and the other person.

Similarly, when you find yourself angry and believe the thought, “I shouldn’t get angry,” you are again, out of alignment with reality and intensifying the anger. We create suffering when we attach to thoughts that are untrue. Question your thoughts and you will discover your freedom every time. Here is a video from Byron Katie that will teach you how to fill out a “Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet”–I think you will find a lot of richness from going through this exercise.

Much love to you!

:)Melissa A.K.A The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

Who Am I and What Are Some Tools & Resources to Help Me on My Path of Discovery?

Dear JoyDiva,

I often find myself slightly uncomfortable when people ask me, “so, who are you?” or “what is it that drives you?”. I struggle to answer such questions, particularly when put on the spot. I can think of traits that describe me and what I value, and come up with things I enjoy doing, yet I haven’t learned how to answer the question of “who am I?”. First of all, what exactly does that even mean? How deep do I have to dig to discover who I really am and is that the same thing as my true self? Second, I am aware that we all change and grow during the span of our lives. When we grow and change, does that also change who we are or does it only alter the surface of our identity, such as how we view ourselves, others, and the world we occupy? Perhaps neither.

I am on a journey of finding out who I really am. I’ve felt stuck in that process for a long time and am looking for tools, input, guidance, etc. on how to find what I am seeking. I have a strong feeling that the answers are already inside of me, and that I just need help finding them.

Seeking self-discovery

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Dear Seeking self-discovery,

There is a lot of juicy stuff in what you are saying! First of all–YES! The answers are most certainly already inside of you, and you are far from alone in needing help to unveil them. There are a lot of us who go about our lives struggling to find who we are, and all we need is to ask someone to help us by holding up the mirror, so to speak. Our own minds can get us quite muddled, and sometimes we need the support of someone objective and intuitive to help us see what is true for us.

Without getting too salesy on you, :), everything you are sharing here leads me to believe that you are in a beautiful place to receive some coaching–we coaches are trained to ask you powerful questions to help you tap into your own truth, guide you on your path of self-discovery, and help you “un-stick” yourself while lovingly holding you accountable. I personally take that a step further in my work by looking at your birth chart, which is a unique “fingerprint” telling me about your hidden strengths, ways that you can get yourself stuck and the unique gifts that you are here to share with the world. I partner that with a powerful visualization/discovery process that gets us in touch with your essence–and what you need in order to feel fully alive and fulfilled. Feel free to email me or respond to this post for more info–I’d be happy to schedule a phone consult to explore that with you in more detail. You can also view the astrology coaching page and watch a short video on my website to learn more.

Some of your questions really require an actual dialogue between us because the answers are going to be quite personal for you. One thing that I can say clearly here is that the moment you were born, you started living out your purpose in this world–there is nothing that you need to do or be in order to live out that purpose other than who you already are, right now. Is there an aspect of us that endures no matter what is occurring in our lives and the world around us? I believe that there is–call it our consciousness, soul, spirit, source, essence. It is the part of us that knows what is true in each moment.

When it comes to fully knowing yourself and experiencing the joy that comes from tapping into your unique essence, one great place to start is to tune into your inner, “yes’s” and “no’s.” What is it that makes your heart sing? Makes you feel free and excited? Grateful to be alive? Conversely, what is it that makes you feel stuck, limited, and drained? The more that you feed those “yes’s,” those life-affirming experiences, you will find that you are living a fully expressed, and authentic life. “Who you are” is not a logical awareness, it is a matter of tuning into your feelings, your heart and that which makes you come alive.

Another way to tap into your essence is through meditation–this could be a stillness practice, walks in nature, dancing, singing, yoga–anything that quiets your mind and drops you into your body and sense of beingness. It is in the spaces between doing, when we create time to observe life and ourselves that we discover our connection to all that is and that which always endures. Creating a regular journaling practice is also a wonderful way to slow down and tune into your “truths” and discover all kinds of yummy things about yourself. (Daily journaling has been HUGELY supportive, enlightening and transformative for me on my path, and regularly helps me clarify the “yes” choices that I can make for myself along the way.)

When it comes to having the “right” answer for people when they ask who you are or what drives you–what is your heart telling you in those moments? It’s fully ok to be on a path of discovery and to not fully know those answers, and it’s fully ok to express that. The REAL you lives where your honesty lives. The more honest that you are about your thoughts and feelings, even your uncertainties, the more YOU you will feel, and the more love you will feel for yourself and be able to receive from others. Just remember that you are truly magnificent, whether you are fully feeling that at the moment or not. We all are.

Here are some books and teachers that I’ve enjoyed on my own path of self-discovery:

The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark, By Sera Beak

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

Prosperity Pie by SARK

Loving What is by Byron Katie

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The teachings of Adyashanti

I wish you much love and many blessings on your journey! Feel free to use my contact form above to schedule a free consult or ask any more questions.

:)Melissa A.K.A The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson