Fan the Flame – Part 3

Hello All – Hope you are enjoying what seems to be the laziest of days between Christmas and New Years!

Let’s jump right into our deep dive on the five things we can do to build (or rebuild) our confidence after betrayal.  The first two I mentioned in this post (part 2) and if you missed part 1 – you can read it here.

#3 – Developing your Skill Set / Finding your niche outside of your family

In the first blog post, I mentioned that one of the threats to our self-confidence is when we feel financially stuck.  This might be because we have sacrificed our careers for our families (such a noble thing to do by the way!) or this might be because we are in a career where what we make barely gets us by.  In the latter case, tacking recovery work on top of barely making ends meet can make us feel even more overwhelmed.

So what to do?

Re-prioritize and make the time to invest in yourself.

I can imagine some of you now – saying “Shelley, you don’t understand.  It’s going to be impossible.”

Listen girls, I get it.  I have those same thoughts running through my head for myself!  I have wanted to take some courses for a couple of years now to help me be able to help women better – but I come up with a bazillion legitimate reasons as to why it can’t be done.

I’m finally at a place where I am ready to make the sacrifices to move forward with the courses.  Why you might ask?  Because I believe that the confidence that will come with empowering myself in this way will be worth it a year from now. Painful in the present but worth it in a year.

There is something powerful – no matter if you need the money or not – when we use our gifts and skills and get compensated for it.  I truly believe this is a huge way to restore dignity and confidence.

What is a service that you can provide that you can also get compensated for?  Is there a particular skill set that you feel like you need to develop by taking some classes?  I have seen advertisements for this on Instagram and while I don’t know much about it – I do find it inspiring to see all the different resources we have at our fingertips to learn and grow!

#4 – Changing your Mindset from “Victim” to “Empowerment”

I’m going to get a little personal here – and I really hope you can hear my heart because this could get dicey.

A couple of months ago, I was driving in my car and reflecting on how frustrated I had become with feeling like everyone else (which is so not true) has trust funds or an inheritance, or their kids’ college paid for by their wealthy extended family.  I recognized on that drive that I had been complaining about it a lot to anyone that would listen to me.  It got to the point where I was tired of hearing myself talk about it.

Tired of hearing myself talk about it?!  That’s a problem.

As I continued to drive down University Blvd, I realized that I was owning and operating from a victim mentality.  Poor me, it’s not fair, why isn’t this my story, why have we had to work for everything, where is our family legacy.

Typing this out makes me want to find the nearest coffee table and hide under it right away!  But I’m not going to do that.  I’m choosing to be fully known and sit in it.

Something shifted in me and I came to realize that I had a choice to make – I could keep complaining and wishing that the generations before me had done it differently.  OR – I could stand up, straighten my self up, and get to work.

I’m doing the latter – being proactive to do what needs to be done to plan for our future.  Getting real about what it’s going to take.  Taking my head out of the sand.  It feels empowering to take ownership.

And I want to caution you – just because we take ownership and tweak things to do it differently doesn’t mean we can’t feel the feels.  It’s important to recognize that we might feel disappointed or overwhelmed or defeated.

Acknowledge it.  Validate it.  And then ask yourself what your choices are and what you can do to turn the tide.

Is there an area where you feel like you have a victim mentality?  If so, what might it look like to shift from a posture of powerlessness to one of power?

Girls – we have agency to look at our situations, get honest about where we are, and then figure out the small steps we can take to do things differently.  I believe that as we do this – we are able to move toward confidence.

#5 – Connection

Y’all know I couldn’t land this plane without looping back to connection.  Because this is the wellspring of life. (And also why we are supposed to guard our hearts.)

Connecting with God, connecting with ourselves and connecting with others is at the heart of our journeys.  We could spin our wheels doing all these other things but if we aren’t working on community and connection – we’ve completely missed the point.

There is something so tangible and so magical about being fully known with others and then with ourselves – that can help bolster our confidence in ways that we never even imagined.

Oftentimes – I would go into my support group feeling defeated and dejected.  Insecure and without hope.  And 90 minutes later – almost like magic – I would leave feeling connected, empowered and confident.  And it was because I showed up in a safe place where I could be fully known.

Adding a little more to this fully known – I was also accepted in my cRaZy.

If you are looking for one of these places – just know there will be several new groups starting in February and March 2020 and I’d love for you to consider one of them.  Email me if you want me to add you to the wait list.

What about you?  What has helped you start to grow your confidence?  I’d love to hear!

xo – Shelley

ps. You won’t want to miss the last installment of this series where a former group member and now dear friend shares a little bit of her journey and how she has done some of the things mentioned here on her journey toward finding wholeness, confidence and dignity. 

Photo credits here and here

 

Fan the Flame – Part 2

In the last blog post, we talked about three things that can be a detriment to our self-confidence.

I’m interested in this topic right now because ladies – it’s something that I struggle with.  As I said before – while I do think the light within us might dim – I am confident (get it?!) that it will never go out.  We truly must fan the flame.

And fanning the flame is one of the things I am focusing on these days.

There are a total of 5 things I have identified which can help with this rebuilding of confidence.  Too much for one blog post so I am sharing the first two here today and the final three here shortly.

#1 – Investing Your Heart In Something Valuable to You

For several years now – I have wanted to do a boot camp at the exercise studio I’ve gone to for the last eight or so years.  I’ve always felt like I didn’t want to spend my money on it and I also felt kinda awkwardly vain desiring to do so.  What would it say about me if I chose to invest more than a regular exercise studio membership on my physique?

After discussing this with Jason – he encouraged me to give it a try.  (To be clear – his encouragement wasn’t coming from a place of wanting my body to look differently.  If that had been the case – I would probably have done something that I’d regret.)  Jason knows how long I’ve wanted to do this boot camp and he also knows how hard it is for me to spend money on things that aren’t imperatives.  Well – the opportunity came up right before Halloween this year and I enrolled in the 4-week boot camp.

I went in with some pretty high expectations.  I really thought I would see a radical transformation.  While that didn’t happen – something else did that I see as even more important and beneficial.  It gave me confidence, empowerment and I felt better.

The reason I walked away with more confidence was because I did something that was hard.  I challenged myself and made the boot camp a priority.  I wasn’t sure if I could swing it – but I did it.

It also gave me confidence because I made myself a priority.  I invested (time and money) in ME.

It got me thinking.  And I realized that part of restoring my dignity is investing (heart, soul, time, money, etc.) in things that I value.

I want you to think about what you value and how you can invest your time and money in those things in order to start to rebuild dignity and confidence.  If you aren’t familiar with values work – it’s super fun.  Email me if you would like some resources.

#2 – Doing Something that Helps Your Body Feel Well

Just so you know, this does not have to be exercise.  The end.

I have been sick this week and boy, does it affect me.  We were supposed to get professional photos taken at our office for my new website and I had to reschedule because I wasn’t feeling well.  Since then, I’ve gone from bad to still bad.

I was telling Jason last night that getting photos taken while sick sounds like the worst idea ever.  We want to feel at our best when we get photos taken – we want to feel alive and beautiful!  Not close to death’s door with scabs around our nostrils. Sigh.

When my body doesn’t feel well – my confidence is in the toilet.  Which begs the question – what can I do to help my body feel well?

I think the easy answer is exercise and eat well – and I agree that these things help.  But there is so much more than this.  Here are some other, sometimes more important things that help me feel well in my body –  listening to my gut, acknowledging how I feel, sharing my heart with those I find safe, recognizing my limiting beliefs (or lies) – and also – laughter.

What about for you?  It could be dancing or listening to music.  It could be brushing your teeth and doing your hair (I struggle with the latter of these). Think about what helps you feel well in your body.

Because confidence comes from within – it’s important that we are nourishing ourselves with the things that will help us feel well.

As we enter the final weekend before Christmas – I want you to hold tight to point #2 above.  Listen to your body.  Don’t ignore your gut.  Do what you can to help your body feel well.

Would love to hear your thoughts on these first two and stay tuned for the next three!

xo – Shelley

Fan the Flame – Part 1

Confidence.  It’s near and dear to my heart these days.  Confidence is defined as a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgments.

I was reminded recently as to the importance of confidence and being proactive in my own life to grasp more of it (more on that in the next blog post).

Confidence is stripped from women (along with dignity and honor to name a few) when they are betrayed.

I have worked with women for more than a decade now and while there are some things I expect to hear that are right under the surface – the level of grief, trying to understand the why behind his addiction (or sexual integrity issue), grappling with trust and forgiveness (the list goes on) – there are other deeper and more insidious effects that sometimes we don’t think about at first blush.  I believe these deeper effects can really rattle our self-confidence.

Unaddressed Shame –

Early on in our recovery – we spent a lot of time focusing on the shame that Jason experienced, starting in childhood, that eventually became triggers that led him to choose to act out.

I as well was dealing with shame – and my shame had layers.  There was the shame of coming to terms with the fact that I married a man with sexual integrity issues.  The shame of this being my story.  This caused me to hide and not want to share my ugly truth with anyone.

I also experienced shame because I really thought Jason only had eyes for me.  And he was the first boy that I finally felt chosen by.  Grappling with the fact that he chose me and many others caused me to feel unloveable and worthless.

The layers of shame look different for each of us.  Sure, it almost always surfaces because of his choices.  But it also can come up as women try to figure out if she should stay married to him.  There can be shame in choosing to stay with someone that treated us this way – and even more so if he isn’t doing good recovery work.  “Am I this pathetic to stay with him after all he has done and he is still treating me this way?”

Confidence wanes as the shame layers start to mount.

Financially Stuck-

While this wasn’t so much the case for myself (we didn’t have children yet and I was the bread winner) – this is a massive issue for most of the women I support.

Working recovery is oftentimes a financial hardship. I remember stressing over how we would pay for the therapist that we were seeing twice a week.

Women affected by betrayal already feel powerless.  If finances are tight – it limits the choices available and can cause her to feel even more stuck and powerless.

In addition, most women that reach out to me have sacrificed their careers in the name of their families.  Some women could go back to their careers but have young children at home which makes the choice feel really hard.  Others have been away from their careers for decades and would have to do loads of training to return to their professions of choice.  It’s a hard call to make.

Feeling stuck from a financial standpoint can have massive effects on self-confidence.  When we have agency – we have confidence.  But without that agency – confidence can plummet.

Intuition Violations –

I know for myself – deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right when I was dating Jason.  This persisted on our wedding day.  I loved him, I knew I wanted to spend my life with him.  But something deep down didn’t feel right.  Ladies – our intuition doesn’t lead us astray.

During the first 3 years of our marriage – I continued to dismiss my intuition.  I continued to experience an unsettled and nagging feeling that something was amiss.  In order to stay sane – I either had to trust my gut and insist something was off or I had to divorce my gut to keep the peace between he and I.  I chose the latter.

Once the ugly truth fully came out – my confidence in trusting my own judgement was completely shattered.  How could I have done this to myself?  How could I have married someone that would treat me this way?  How did I not know?

My self-confidence crashed to an all time low.

Ladies – it’s not all bad news, though.  Why, you ask? (I’m so glad you did!)  Because I truly believe that each of us can walk through betrayal and toward our future with more confidence than we ever thought was possible.  As Maya Angelou said – “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”  As I think about this quote – with all due respect – I’d like to revise it.  The light might dim, for a season, but ladies – it will never go out.  We must fan the flame.

I’m curious if you can relate to any of these three areas that affect our confidence post betrayal.  I’d also love to hear what else comes to mind for you that has made an impact on trusting yourself.

Stay tuned for some strategies to help us start to rebuild the confidence we so desperately need to repair.  While this might be life work – I do think if we are intentional – we can make huge strides in this area rather quickly.

Love you ladies!

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

Review and an update {An update on Insecurity – A 2015 Intentional (#3)}

Back at the beginning of the year, I shared with you my 2015 Intentionals.  The things I wanted to keep close to my heart this year and work through one bite at a time.  I specifically focused on working through my insecurities here on the blog.  You can find a couple of updates both here and here.

In this post, I’d like to review some of my big breakthroughs as well as a little update for you on where I’m at with this whole insecurity thing.

chickandhen

Breakthrough #1 – Naming it and Claiming it – In the past, when I’ve felt any prickly feelings, my first line of defense is to do what I can to get rid of the feelings.  That is quickly followed by being hard on myself (via self-talk) for ever even feeling those feelings in the first place.  Ladies, I’m here to tell you:  It didn’t work.  So what I’m now trying to do is allow the feelings to sit.  I’m trying to ask myself:  “Why do I feel this way?”  “What is going on internally that has me feeling these so-hard-to-swallow feelings?”

Breakthrough #2 – No Overnight Cures – This one dovetails nicely with #1.  Once I’ve acknowledged that the feelings I’m sitting with stem from insecurity, why the rush to fix it?  Rather, allowing myself to say, “So I’m feeling insecure.”  Followed by, “Okay.” And a deep breath (versus okay and a now what do I do?!).

Breakthrough #3 – The RX for Insecurity isn’t Change – At some point, I think I thought I needed to change myself in order to not be insecure.  This could look like changes on the inside (which, let’s be honest, are the more difficult things to change and certainly not a bad idea all together) or changes on the outside.  What if instead, working through insecurity starts and ends with embracing, celebrating and loving who I am (and who you are, too!)!

Breakthrough #4 – Resting in God’s Goodness and His Divine Sovereignty Over My Little Life – Once again, this dovetails nicely with #3.  When I quiet my soul.  And recognize that God made me uniquely.  Unlike anyone else on this earth.  When I recognize that He has a plan for my life.  That I’m not a mistake.  That’s when it seems that I start to really feel the ground again.  I feel centered.  Whole.

So where does that leave me today?

Well, here is the update:  I am totally secure today!  I’ve simply worked through these four breakthroughs and wha-lah, I’m cured!

Kidding.

Ladies, I feel like God is continuing to refine me in this area.  It doesn’t take much for me to start to spin out and feel insecure.

Can I be honest with you?  Something about being in ministry and desiring to help other women seems to really have increased it up a notch or two.  Can anyone relate to this?  I didn’t feel this insecure in my previous career.  I don’t remember comparing myself (the thief of all joy!) to others quite so much.  Maybe this is just a part of the package?  And I don’t like it.  Yet, I also recognize that God is using these circumstances I keep finding myself in every couple of weeks to allow me to grow.

As someone very witty once told me, “Well, Shelley, it sounds like you signed up for a personal development course and you didn’t even know you registered for it!”

Awesome.  Thanks.

It might be the same for you.  Chances are, if you are reading this blog post, you have been hurt by your husband or boyfriend.  You have been betrayed.  And this brings a whole slew of insecurities to work through.  I know because I’ve been there.

No matter where these insecurities stem from – your man’s betrayal, your line of work, the role you play in your family – I want you to know that there is hope for you in this area.  For each of these insecurity sources – it all goes back to the same thing:  Quieting your soul, naming it and allowing yourself to sit in it.  Recognizing that God has a plan for your life.  And recognizing that you don’t need to be anyone else to be loved, accepted, enough.

I want to key in on one more thing here:  Recognizing that this planet needs originals!  Please, ladies, don’t try to be who your husband lusted after.  No way.  Don’t try to be the person your friend is.  No way.  Be yourself.  Embrace the way God made You.  I’ve kept this close to my heart lately (so we’ll call it breakthrough #5) – How can I be true to me?  How can I embrace myself?  Even the parts of myself that might not be seen in this world or in my community as acceptable but are actually very acceptable and allow me to embrace who I am?

As you can see ladies, I’m still working through this.  The quest continues.

What has your insecurity journey looked like?  Would you put on your brave pants (or your comfy pants) and share more of it here?

 

 

To accept and then to love {An update on Insecurity – A 2015 Intentional (#2)}

I’ve been working through my insecurities over the last couple of months.  You can read all about it here and here.  As I look back, I believe my first big breakthrough was being able to name that the emotions I was feeling stemmed from insecurity.  Back to naming it and claiming it.  My second big breakthrough came when I realized that I didn’t need to cure my insecurity overnight.  Rather, I decided to give myself space to breathe, to think, to process the feelings within; label them as stemming from insecurity (or not), and sit in my awareness.  No need to quick fix at this stage!

So here I am.  Awareness is my friend.  I’m trying to accept me even when I feel insecure.  Even when I make mistakes.  This is hard for a recovering perfectionist.  And guess what – there is so much freedom in not having to be perfect!

chickandhen

 Photo source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I’ve sat in my awareness, I’ve conceptualized two other breakthroughs that I’d like toshare with y’all.  These two concepts intermingle together so hang with me while I explain:

I wrote in my journal recently that “insecurity isn’t so much about changing me but embracing, celebrating and loving who I am.”  (We’ll call this breakthrough #3.) There is relief in knowing I don’t need to change myself to live security well.  I don’t need to buy a new outfit.  I don’t need to work through my jealousy issues.  I don’t need to lose five pounds.  I don’t need to…  You get the point.  Living security well means not only accepting myself, both the great things and the not so great things; but also loving myself just the way God made me.

I have to say, it’s one thing for me to accept myself (which I believe I am working towards during this season).  It’s a whole other thing to love myself.  For me to love my freckles.  To love my eyes-that-are-so-sensitive-that-turn-red-so-easily.  To love my wayward hair.  And those are just the outward parts of me that are hard to accept much less love.  Then there’s the inside.  To love my sensitive heart.  To love my propensity towards jealousy.  (And I don’t even know that that last one is even Biblical, but you know what I mean!)  To love my desire to go deep.

The second recent breakthrough (otherwise called breakthrough #4) is this:  How is it that I can get so distracted thinking I need to look, act, be like someone else… all the while, when I sit in stillness, I realize that I’m quite alright with how God made me?!  How does that happen?  It seems I forget so easily my uniqueness.  And what would it look like to stay grounded in those moments when insecurity seems to be spiraling out of control.  How can I remind myself that I’m okay being just me.  Not anyone else… but simply me?

As I move towards not only accepting all the parts of me, but loving all the parts of me; I’d like to think that I won’t get so distracted with thinking I “should” act, look, be like someone else.

So here I am. Naming insecurity.  Sitting in awareness.  Working towards accepting all the different facets of me and overtime desiring to love all the different facets of me.

That’s my update.

What about you – those parts of your outward self or your inward self that you’ve never quite accepted – do you think it’s possible to not only accept them but to also LOVE them?  For me, could I start to adore my freckles?  My wrinkles?  My sensitive heart?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

On Working through Insecurity {A 2015 intentional (#1)}

This year, part of what I’d like to do here is share about how I am working through my 2015 intentionals.  You can read more about them here.  Specifically, I’d like to focus on working through my insecurities, being more intentional with my time, and loving myself just as much as I love others.  In some respects, these intentionals go hand-in-hand.  I also know that insecurity, in particular, is something we all struggle with at times.  I’d propose that I was most insecure in the months following Jason’s disclosure; so I think the topic is well suited for us gals that share a similar story.

This past weekend, Jason was away working at the EMB workshop.  I was home with the litttles and my dad came to help out.  On Saturday evening, I had committed to attending a birthday party for a sweet neighbor at a local bistro.  I realized I wouldn’t know a lot of the people there.  In addition, the party was compromised of couples.

As the evening approached, I started to feel more and more reluctant about attending the party.  Would I know anyone?  Would I fit in?  Would anyone talk to me?  What would I wear?  What if all the women were more dressed up than myself?  (This is after I did a total wardrobe overhaul and currently, I don’t even own a dress!)

I started to process this further and realized that it was my insecurity causing me to second guess attending.  I’d feel more secure if someone went with me.  Then I’d have an insurance policy against feeling alone, invisible and ultimately rejected.

(As a side note, I’ve decided for myself, step one to overcoming my insecurities is awareness.  The art of being able to stop, identify and process the feelings within, and label them as insecurity (or not).

On Saturday afternoon, I decided that this experience could serve as a chance for me to work on my insecurities.  So this is what I transpired:

First, I asked myself, what is the primary reason I am attending the party?  Knowing my motivation and intention beforehand may help me focus in on what’s most important  (because I’m pretty sure my appearance wasn’t what was most important).  The reason I was going was to honor my friend and hope that she felt cherished by my presence.  So what mattered was that I greeted her, wished her a happy birthday, and engaged in conversation for a bit.

outfit

Then, I started to work on the “should cloud” infiltrating my mind.  For example:  “I should wear a skirt, everyone else will be wearing a skirt.”  “I should go purchase a nice outfit.  Everyone else will be wearing something special.”  The list goes on.  Instead of “shoulding” in regards to my wardrobe, as I had been doing all day, I thought about what I love to wear.  What I’m most comfortable in.  Not what I felt like would allow me to feel more accepted around others.  I landed on a pair of destroyed jeans and a simple top with a necklace.  Yes, this was my style.  This speaks to who I am.  (Casual, tomboyish flair with a feminine pop.)

Next, I started to recognize what was a lie circling in my head and replace it with Truth.  For example, I kept hearing:  “I’m not going to know anyone.  I’m going to feel invisible.”  Instead, I reminded myself of the reason I was going – to cherish and honor my friend.  I told myself that I could meet new people and engage in conversation with them.  I wasn’t invisible.  I’m a whole person.  A human being.  I matter.  I have worth.

And last, on my drive over – I called a good friend for encouragement.  She is single so I knew she’d understand my uneasiness.  She gave me a couple of suggestions and empowered me to walk in that bistro all alone.

The evening went better than I had expected.  I chatted with people I knew and met several couples that I’d never met that lived in the neighborhood.  I let loose on the dance floor, not really caring what others thought of my moves.  I was there for three full hours and I can say, it was worth the time investment.  And you know what, it also served as an opportunity for me to intentionally take another step towards becoming a secure woman.  And for that reason, I am  truly thankful.