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How to Become Empowered

How to Become Empowered

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Living Like You Are Important, Too.

In our hectic, demanding lives, it’s easy to lose sight of ourselves: Who we are, how we feel and what we need. Even more challenging can be figuring out how to assert all-of-the-above in our relationships with others. This is particularly true if you’ve been existing in a toxic relationship or codependent relationship, or navigating the aftermath of a bad breakup. In the midst of stressful circumstances, attaining empowerment can seem out of reach — especially when you’ve been focused outwards rather than within.

What is Empowerment?

Empowerment can be thought of as one of the goals of self-actualization and personal growth. To be “empowered” is to feel confident, to trust yourself, to believe that your feelings are important, to consider yourself worthy of love and respect, and able to assert yourself appropriately in relationships. However it’s difficult to be truly empowered when you are out of touch with yourself, and feel disconnected from the type of life and relationships that feel energizing and nourishing to you.

Finding Balance Between Me and You

Self empowerment can feel challenging for people who care about other’s feelings, and who prioritize their connections with others. Why? Because for sensitive, caring people it can be easy to disown yourself and your feelings — making the way others feel, and what they need more of a priority than your own needs and feelings. Many people, especially women, can feel guilty when they ask for what they want. Furthermore, if you are in a relationship that does not support your empowerment, you may also feel like you’re risking having other people judge you or be angry with you if you start asking for what you need for a change. [Read: How to Stand Up For Yourself and Still Have Friends.]

However, at the same time, being dependent on other people to meet your needs or for the way you feel about yourself is inherently disempowering. If you wait for other people to take care of you instead of caring for yourself, you risk becoming resentful. And when you allow they way other people feel about you to define the way you feel about yourself, you become disconnected from yourself; transformed into a people pleaser, chasing the dragon of approval. [Listen: Stop Comparing Yourself To Others]

The last thing you want is to feel hollow, helpless, or increasingly bitter. While attaining empowerment can feel bold, or even scary, it’s really the only choice for a happy, healthy life and relationships. Believing that you are worthy of love and respect — and then behaving accordingly — helps you take care of yourself and teaches others how to treat you.

Empowerment Always Evolving

Empowerment is not something that you achieve and then have forever. For most people, living in a position of empowerment requires balance and constant realignment. To stay empowered means staying connected to your feelings, and the evolving landscape of your life. In this way, we can say that authentic, healthy “empowerment” is more of a life-skill than a destination.

Because developing empowerment is such a complex, yet vitally important part of the growth process for many people, I’m devoting an entire episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to the topic. I’m also enlisting the support of a real-life “Empowerment Expert” to share her wisdom with you: my colleague Teena Evert, a fellow therapist and life coach on the Growing Self team. Teena specializes in helping people create empowered lives and authentic relationships, starting by focusing on how to build a strong foundation within themselves.

Attaining Empowerment

Teena and I are talking about many of the “pieces” involved with cultivating personal empowerment, including:

  • Mindful self-awareness
  • Building self-love and self-compassion
  • Why building a sustainable self-care routine is key to maintaining your solid foundation
  • How stress can impact your empowerment
  • The need to create balance by staying aware of your feelings
  • How to be assertive and set boundaries in relationships… while also being flexible
  • Trusting yourself
  • How to ask for what you need… while also having compassion and empathy for people you love
  • Developing a sense of self worth that is independent of external validation
  • How to not give your power away, blame others, or lose yourself in relationships
  • How to not fear your own power

 

How to Cultivate Empowerment in Your Life

Becoming a fully empowered person is a process, not an event. For most people, achieving this type of confidence and growth is acquired over months, even years of dedicated personal growth work. However, Teena shares many different strategies you can start using right now, to build your self awareness mindfully, treat yourself with compassion and respect, trust yourself, and start strengthening your feelings of empowerment. I hope her wisdom gives you insight into how to begin cultivating empowerment in your life.

Additionally, we discussed a number of resources on today’s show. Here are links to learn more:

Enneagrams – The self awareness / personality quiz we often use with our individual and couples here at Growing Self.

Cultivating Mindfulness Skills – Check out the “Happy Mind” unit of The Happiness Class.

With love and respect,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Attaining Empowerment

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Sinead OÇonnor, “Just Like You Said It Would Be”

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Handling New Relationship Anxiety: Advice From a Dating Coach

Handling New Relationship Anxiety: Advice From a Dating Coach

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Anxiety About a New Relationship?

Are you on pins and needles, riddled with anxiety about a new relationship? You’re not alone. For most of our dating coaching clients, the “dating” part is not that hard. You put a profile together, attend social functions with a smile on your face, and you’re going to have opportunities. Going on an actual date or three is not the biggest deal.

What IS the biggest deal, and what our dating coaching clients really struggle with, is how to manage all the anxiety, insecurity, and angst about the unknown that comes with finding someone they really like and who they’ve started seeing regularly. That’s when all the questions come up: Should I text? When should I call? When is it time for us to take down our online dating profiles? Is it okay for me to bring up certain subjects? How do I show them I like them with out seeming too needy? Or should I play it cool? Are we moving too fast? Not fast enough? Is this going somewhere? Is it okay for me to ask that? Or will that push them away? AGGGH. 

We associate this sort of obsessing about another person’s feelings for us with the horrific junior high experience of crushing. But, sadly, this life experience is not just for fifteen year olds. Grown-a** people, even senior citizens, still struggle with the angst and vulnerability of how to handle themselves in new relationships when they really, really don’t want to blow it.

New Relationship Anxiety: It’s a Thing

New relationships are incredibly anxiety provoking, and for good reason. When you really like someone but aren’t sure how they feel about you, it’s all consuming. When romantic love starts to pulse inside you, it actually changes the way you think and feel. When you feel like you cannot take your mind off of someone, and like you have way too much mental and emotional energy going into a brand new person, it’s not just you. That experience of infatuation is what nature designed to weld you to another person. It’s fierce. To have such intense feelings for a new person, and not know if your budding love is requited is the absolute worst.

This anxiety about new relationships churns up all kinds of self doubt and questions. For this reason, in addition to the usual questions about dating coaching we get, we have been fielding questions about how to handle various situations in new relationships from our dating coaching clients, in our solution sessions, and with questions coming in from listeners of our podcast, readers of our blog, and even journalists. [Read more about our empowering approach to dating coaching on DatingNews.com]

Today, on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m tackling some of your new relationship questions in hopes of putting some of that new relationship anxiety to rest. We’ll discuss:

  • How to manage new relationship anxiety
  • The stages of a new relationship
  • New relationship questions
  • When to bring up topics like dating exclusively, or how you really feel
  • Things to look for that indicate red flags and / or compatibility
  • When you should move forward dating someone with a history of depression or other issues (and when to fold ’em).
  • What to do when someone you like hasn’t called or texted in a while, or gives other signals that they might not be that into you
  • How to put self-love and self-worth front and center of all new dating relationships
  • How to move a new relationship forward without “scaring someone off”

All that, and more, on the podcast.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: Resources we discussed on the show: The How Healthy is Your Relationship Quiz, and How to Cultivate Healthy Self-Love

PPS: Do YOU have questions for me? Dating questions, or otherwise? Leave them in the comments: I read every one! 🙂

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New Relationship Anxiety? Your New Relationship Questions, Answered

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Mindful Self Compassion

Mindful Self Compassion

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Mindful Self Compassion

MINDFUL SELF COMPASSION: As you may know, in addition to my work here as a therapist, couples counselor and life coach, I love addressing listener questions on the Love Happiness and Success Podcast (not to mention the wonderful questions that you guys leave for me on our blog).

A while ago, one brave listener reached out with a heartfelt email, sharing a bit about her life, and asking how to handle some really difficult things, like:

“How do I forgive myself when I’ve hurt someone?”

“How do I break my old patterns so that I don’t do harmful things again?”

“How do I stay emotionally available when I fear being hurt?”

These are important questions that many people wrestle with, and I decided to tackle them on the show. We’ll be discussing:

How to Forgive Yourself When You’ve Hurt Someone

While so many resources are there to help you if you’ve been hurt by someone else, or need to forgive someone who has betrayed you, or how to rebuild trust in a relationship, few resources exist to help those suffering with feelings of guilt, regret and remorse. This is unfortunate, because who among us hasn’t done something they regret? The worst is when you’ve hurt someone you’ve loved, and maybe lost a relationship as a result of it.

We’ll discuss how to apply self-awareness and mindful self-compassion to this situation in order to find forgiveness for yourself, by putting your actions in context of both your life experience and your inner experience. We’ll talk about how to practice self-compassion, and also some self-compassion exercises to help you develop this skill.

Resources: Here’s the link to the attachment styles article I mentoned. One of the other resources I discuss here is our “What’s Holding You Back” quiz to help you gain self-awareness (here’s the link if you want to check it out).

How Do I Break My Old Patterns?

The crux of any personal growth process is using your self-awareness and your feelings to get clearer about your values, help you guide your future behavior and future choices. But all we have is the present moment. We’ll talk about how to combine compassion for yourself, empathy for others, and mindfulness skills to manage yourself in the moment so that you create better outcomes in the future.

Resource: Mindfulness, For People Who Hate to Meditate

How Do I Stay Emotionally Available in Relationships?

When you’re feeling fragile and emotionally reactive, it’s hard to have healthy relationships. Instead, we usually fall into either losing ourselves and being dependent on another for our feelings of self-worth. (Which too often leads to emotional enmeshment and codependency). Or, we swing into self-protection, lashing out, shutting down, or breaking off relationships. The key to finding a middle path — connection, and confidence — is through loving yourself and strengthening yourself.

Resource: Here’s the link to the Self-Love article I mentioned. Also, an article about cultivating healthy vulnerability in relationships.

At the heart of all the ideas, skills and strategies here for forgiving yourself, and using your mistakes as a launch pad for growth is the concept of mindful self-compassion. I hope you keep that idea with you, on your journey of growth and healing.

Your fellow traveler,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Mindful Self Compassion: How to Forgive Yourself

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

The Stages of a Breakup

 

The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal a Broken Heart

We get so many breakup questions on our Growing Self blog and through Facebook from broken-hearted people looking for breakup recovery advice. More than anything, they want to know how to get over a breakup. They have questions like:

“How long does it take to get over a breakup?”

“How do you get over a breakup when you live together”

“How to cope when your Ex moves on?”

“How to stop thinking about your Ex?”

“How to get over a bad breakup?”

As you know if you’ve ever listened to my podcast, I have a special place in my heart for people who are in the midst of a bad breakup, and I really want to help. (You can read my own horrible breakup story here.) I thought that, instead of trying to answer so many specific breakup questions, it might be more helpful to everyone to learn more about the stages of a breakup. My hope is that in learning about the stages of a breakup, you can identify where you are in this process and get some direction for how to move past your breakup.

The Stages of a Breakup

Breakup recovery is not an event, it’s a process. Learning about the stages of a breakup, and what the breakup recovery process actually looks like, will provide you with a more robust answer about what to expect.

Breakup Stage 1: Craving Contact With Your Ex
In this stage of breakup recovery, you’re in intense pain. You can’t stop thinking about your Ex, you’re craving contact with them, you’re idealizing your Ex, and you’re often wishing that you could get back together. This is the “withdrawal” stage of breakup recovery, and it’s bad. Worst yet, people can get stuck in this stage for a really long time. We’ll talk how to take your power back, and break free from this stage so that you can truly begin the process of healing.

Breakup Stage 2: Grieving
Once you’ve decided for yourself that the relationship is really over, then your healing process begins with honest grieving. We’ll talk about how to use the power of grief to release your attachment to your Ex, and work through the pain of heartbreak.

Breakup Stage 3: Releasing Anger
Once you’re past the hardest parts of withdrawal and grieving, the deeper layers of healing can happen. Most people, when the dust starts to settle, become aware that they still have feelings like anger, guilt, and even shame related to their relationship. Until you work through these feelings, it’s hard to fully release your attachment to your Ex.

Breakup Stage 4: Repairing Your Self Esteem After a Breakup
The next stage of breakups often involves turning away from the focus being on your Ex, and turning towards yourself. Most people going through a bad breakup feel like it’s taken a toll on their self-esteem. Learning how to love yourself again is the foundation for being able to truly rebuild and move on after a breakup.

Breakup Stage 5: How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex
Once you’ve worked through the dark emotions of a breakup, craving, grief, anger, shame…. you’re free to move on. AND, annoyingly, many people still find that they are thinking about their Ex. They might even have intrusive thoughts about their Ex. In this stage of a breakup, there’s no continued reason to keep thinking about your Ex… but it’s easier said than done.

Breakup Stage 6: What Did I Learn?
When you’re feeling clear and strong, you have a wonderful opportunity to gather up the learning experiences that you may have uncovered through your healing process. Keeping these life lessons in the forefront will give you the power to create a better future for yourself in the future. If not, you’re destined to repeat the mistakes of your past.

Breakup Stage 7: Learning to Trust Again
The last stage of a breakup is learning how to create healthy new relationships in the future. For many people, this requires learning how to trust again after a breakup. What many people discover through this healing process is how to trust themselves.

The Stages of a Breakup & How to Heal From Heartbreak, On The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast

Today, I’m putting my breakup recovery coach hat on to address your breakup question and put them in context of the stages of breakups. I’m also taking this opportunity to answer a few listener questions.

All of these stages of a breakup require intentional skills and strategies to work through effectively. Some stages of a breakup take longer to work through than others. For example, many people stay stuck in the first stage of a breakup, craving contact with their Ex, for a very long time. However, getting stuck in any of the stages of a breakup can prevent you from being able to move forward.

I also hope that learning about the stages of a breakup will provide you with guidance about how to move forward after a breakup, no matter what stage of breakup you’re currently in. I’ll be sharing tips on how to move through each stage of a breakup on today’s show.

We’ll be talking about specifics related to how to get over a breakup when you live together, how it takes to stop thinking about your Ex, how to get your confidence back after a breakup, and how long it takes to get over a breakup.

I hope that this breakup advice, and the breakup success stories I share help you find your way forward too.

Yours in healing,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: I discussed many resources to support you in YOUR journey through the stages of a breakup. Here are links to all of them, if you’d like to learn more:

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The Stages of a Breakup: How to Heal From Heartbreak

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Break up or stay together? Who hasn’t wondered the same, during a seriously difficult time in their relationship? Or, entertained an even bigger question: Should you try to save a relationship? Especially a relationship that has been feeling really hard and unsatisfying for a long time? How do you know when it’s time to call it quits?

I’ve been an online couples therapist for years, a Denver marriage counselor for over a decade, and a married person for even longer than that. I can say, with confidence, that all relationships go through hard times.

Strong, healthy couples with a lifetime of love ahead of them can have weeks, months, or longer where they do not feel good about their partnership. Communication is hard, they’re upsetting each other, and one or both people can even start to wonder if they’re compatible after all.

This is normal. Couples go through this and can come through the other side having grown as people and having stronger relationships than ever before. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s happened in my own marriage. Not getting along for a spell is does not neccesarily mean you should break up.

Break Up or Stay Together: How to Tell

Yet there are situations where relationships are too far gone to be salvaged. There are partnerships where partners are fundamentally incompatible. And there are toxic, unhealthy relationships that aren’t good for anyone. Sometimes, breaking up is the best thing for both of you.

It is very difficult to know sometimes what is “normal” relationship turbulence and what are signs that you should break up. The dilemma about whether to break up or stay together can be even more pronounced if you have complicating factors, like shared children. Other cases of whether a relationship can be saved seem more clear-cut, but even then people wonder if they’re doing the right thing by ending the relationship or if they should give their relationship another it one more chance.

Because deciding whether to break up or stay together is such a hard decision, we have many questions come through from clients, listeners of our podcast, and readers of our blog wanting help in deciding if their relationship can be saved, or if it’s time to throw in the towel. They want to know things like:

  • “How long should it take to see improvement in my relationship?”
  • “In my heart, I don’t want to be married to this person anymore. Will it ever come back?”
  • “Is what I’m seeing solvable, or is this a sign we should break up?”
  • “Once a cheater, always a cheater? Or can you have a good relationship after infidelity?”
  • “I’m not being treated well by my boyfriend. Can this change?”
  • “How do I know if I’ve tried hard enough to save my relationship?”

If you’ve been going through a hard time in your relationship that has led you to have doubts, I hope that this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast can help shed some light on signs that it’s time to break up, or whether your relationship can be saved.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. We discussed a number of resources on this show. Here are the links for more information if you want to check any of them out:

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Should We Break Up or Stay Together?

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Growing Self Counseling & Coaching