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Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

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.

It’s so hard to let go…

 

It would be so much easier for people if, when a relationship ended it came to a full stop and everyone got out of the car and went their separate ways. That is not what happens though. Very often, couples continue to coast along for months after the engine stops turning. Sometimes years. They hook up, hang out, and sometimes even cohabitate, all while officially broken up.

Let’s face it: Even after you break up or divorce, your Ex still feels like your person even though you know in your head the relationship is over. Everything about them is familiar, and it can be very easy to fall back into old patterns… or fall into bed.

In the aftermath of a breakup, many people continue on with their Ex in quasi-relationship “situationships.” Living with their Ex, having sex with an Ex, being hang-out buddies with an Ex, or texting back and forth with an Ex are all common.

Sex With Your Ex is Understandable

When your heart is broken, maintaining contact with your Ex — sexual or otherwise — feels like the only thing that will stop the pain, even for a moment.

Especially if you’re not the one who initiated the breakup, any time spent with your Ex is the only thing that feels normal. The rest is just a nightmare you can’t wake up from. 

Human beings are built to bond, and these attachments don’t turn on and off at the flip of a switch. When you are hoping for reunion, any sign that your Ex still cares is what you live for. If your Ex invites you over, texts you, or is okay with you still living there, it feels like hope is possible.

Sex With Your Ex is Always Destructive… To One of You

However, hanging around in extended post-relationship limbo, or having sex with your Ex is almost never a good idea. As a therapist, marriage counselor, and breakup recovery expert, I have had a ring-side seat to many, many relationships, divorces and breakup recovery situations. I’ve spoken to the broken hearted, as well as to their Exes and have learned a lot about why.

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m sharing my perspective on:

  • Why people going through breakups often do self-destructive things in order to maintain their connection with their Ex
  • Why having sex with an Ex is always damaging (but only to one of you)
  • The power dynamics at work in every breakup
  • How your Ex really feels about hooking up with you
  • What post-breakup purgatory is really about… and what it does to your self esteem
  • The magical thinking that people going through breakups are vulnerable to
  • How to cut the cord and set yourself free

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: We discussed a number of resources in this episode. Here are the links to learn more:

 

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Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

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

Music Credits: Moushumi, “Stay”

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Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Dating After Divorce

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC is a therapist, life coach and dating coach whose mission is to help you create authentic happiness and satisfaction in your life especially when it comes to dating after divorce. She supports you to create a deeper connection with others, as well as actualize your life’s purpose.

 

Ready to find love again?

I often hear the question, “When is someone ready to start dating after divorce?” That’s a hard question to answer, but those who are newly divorced give dating a lot more consideration than the majority of single folks out there.

Their hesitation to jump back into the dating pool makes sense; the reason being is that divorce shakes our confidence in our ability to connect. When you’ve gone through a traumatic relationship loss or breakup it can make you question your ability to trust others but also your ability to trust your decisions on choosing a partner. Dating after a divorce feels much riskier.

So, if you are lost with no idea where to even start with dating after divorce, don’t worry, you are not alone and there are ways in which you can help yourself. Here are some guidelines to help you recover and get back out there.

Tips For Dating After Divorce

  • Revise your self-talk to support your success

Confidence plays a major role in the healing process of divorce. Some relationships can be similar to an addiction to another person. Addicts don’t believe that they’ll ever be able to survive without their drug. Divorcees can sometimes feel like they’ll never be able to find love again.

This is a negative thinking pattern that can lead to more than just lack of confidence but isolation, anxiety, and depression. So be in-tune with what you are telling yourself, and try to create a more empowering narrative. Chances are a good dose of loving self-talk could help your situation. For more on how to do this, check out our Happiness Class.

  • Assess whether you are you really ready

You may not be ready to date if you’re still, in your heart of hearts, privately carrying a torch for your Ex. Like an addiction, when a relationship ends we can be ambivalent and question whether or not we’ll go back into that relationship again. Many people spend months after a breakup or divorce half hoping your partner may change their mind and realize they made a huge mistake. If that’s the case, you then are putting your healing process in their hands. Furthermore, any new relationship you attempt is likely to spin its wheels.

Take back control by committing to moving yourself forward. It may be helpful to get clarity and closure about why your breakup or divorce was a good thing. For example, recognizing that your past relationship wasn’t meeting all of your needs and working on clarity and closure for yourself. This may mean you keep distance from this person and take every precaution not to slip back into the purgatory of waiting and hoping. For many people, getting the support of a great breakup recovery coach or participating in a breakup recovery group can help them heal and grow, as opposed to wallpaper over the pain by dating prematurely.

Only then will you be genuinely emotionally available to begin a healthy new relationship with someone else.

  • Make a needs list

Many times in failed relationships we were not getting our needs met before they ended. Maybe you don’t even know what your needs are in a relationship because they have been on the back burner for so long. Take your time to write out a list of what you NEED in a relationship. This list could include, honesty, trust, quality time, etc. This list will help guide you in the dating process to be honest with you and your future partner of whether or not this relationship will work for you.

I also encourage my dating coaching clients to ask themselves, ‘What do I need to be able to come to a new relationship the way I want to?’ This way you are also looking at what you need to be able to provide in order to connect back to others in a way that isn’t compromised by manipulation or feelings of inadequacy.

  • Let go of the pressure to heal  

Depending on what the reasons were for the divorce, it could take days, or it could take years to grieve this relationship trauma. Don’t let a time frame determine your journey towards love. Feeling pressured by time or other people doesn’t help us grow into the person we want to be. I encourage divorcees who are not ready to enter back into the dating world to engage your support network and surround yourself with people you can rely on.

  • Focus on self-care

Lastly, I’d suggest making time for self-care. Surround yourself with people who support you, do things that are fun, and make sure you invest in rest, nutrition, exercise, and your healing process. When you put energy into your self and your own wellness, you’ll exude the confidence and self respect that’s so attractive to potential new partners.

Dating after divorce can feel challenging, but you have a lot of power. Remind yourself that although your mind may be trying to trick you that the rest of your life is going to be an uphill battle, it doesn’t have to be. Using some of these different approaches I’ve described, like revising your self talk, working through the past before moving forward, prioritizing your needs, honoring your own timeline, and practicing good self care can arm you with a set of tools to help you feel genuinely able to move forward, and challenge yourself to be open to finding love again.

All the best to you,

Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC

Ps: If you’re ready to jump back in the pool, here are more ideas to support you in this podcast: The New Rules of Modern Dating — check it out!

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

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.

Letting Go Of a Toxic Relationship

We’re approaching a new year, and as such, you may be thinking about changes you want to make in your life. If you’ve been stuck in a relationship with someone who is not treating you well, and who is causing you hurt, anxiety, pain and frustration, now is a wonderful time to consider leaving your toxic relationship behind… and creating a new year full of healing, health and happiness for yourself.

Toxic Relationship Warning Signs

Letting go of a toxic relationship can be one of the hardest things for anyone to do. In my work as a life coach, therapist, and couples counselor, I have had the privilege of walking with many people through the experience of first recognizing that their relationship is toxic, then ending a hurtful relationship, and then healing after the “toxic relationship experience.” Toxic relationships take a toll on you, at every level. And every step of this journey is hard. (Necessary, meaningful, and empowering… but hard). I know, I’ve been there personally too.

Letting of a toxic relationship often starts with people working to improve their relationships.  At this stage they often believe that if only their partner could make changes, then they’d finally get the love, respect, and consideration they deserve. They come in to life coaching or even drag their partner in to couples therapy, hopeful that they can make improvements. (And I will say that almost all the time when two people are both committed to a relationship and willing to make changes, relationships can be transformed).

However, if your relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to be healed in marriage counseling or couples therapy. Instead, you’ll continue to feel frustrated, hurt, angry… and then elated when it seems like your partner is finally hearing you and caring about your feelings… only to be crushed when they disappoint you again. [Read: “Are You Addicted To a Toxic Relationship?”]

But in many genuinely toxic relationships, the biggest “warning sign” of all is when your partner routinely shows a lack of interest or follow-through in changing anything about the relationship. Instead, you when you bring up your feelings you get yelled at, blamed, rejected, or made to feel that the problems are all your fault.

Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship

In these situations of course, attempts at couples counseling often end badly. Most of the time, since their partners are unwilling to work on things with them, people in toxic relationships wind up entering empowering life coaching or effective therapy on their own.

Only over time (and often through deep personal growth work) do they then learn how to spot the characteristics of a toxic relationship, and come to terms with the fact that the only way to improve their situation is to take their power back and move on.

But until then, people in toxic relationships often struggle. They struggle with the mixed signals they get from their partner, because sometimes they are loving. They’re told that things will improve, and maybe they do for a little while. Many people believe that if THEY work harder at the relationship, are more loving, are more generous, and more patient that their partner will eventually change. (Because often, their partner is telling them in both overt and covert ways that the relationship problems are their fault).

Over time, a genuinely toxic relationship will destroy your self-esteem, interfere with your other relationships, make it hard to focus on positive areas of your life, and consume all of your time and attention. But through self-reflection, self-love, self-compassion (and sometimes excellent therapy or life coaching) you can begin to see that you have become attached to a profoundly unhealthy partner who is never going to give you the love and respect they deserve.

Then you can work to create positive, empowering changes: Like insisting that you are treated well, and setting firm, clear boundaries with anyone who doesn’t — especially the one who’s supposed to love them the most.

Can a Toxic Relationship Be Healed?

Ending any relationship is hard, and even people who are addicted to profoundly toxic relationships can hold on hope that the relationship can improve, sometimes for years. Many people (understandably) need to know if their toxic relationships can be healed before ending them permanently.

In fact, I get many, many relationship questions on the Growing Self blog about this very subject. Of course the writers of the questions are not labeling their relationships as toxic. They are instead describing extremely frustrating, hurtful, even crazy-making relationship experiences and then asking, what should I do? (Usually phrased as, “How do I get this person I love very much to stop treating me badly?”

If a relationship is truly toxic, it is unlikely to change no matter how hard YOU work at it. Why? Because it lacks the fundamental building blocks of a healthy relationship: Empathy, commitment, personal responsibility, and true love.

Your toxic relationship will finally be changed forever, when YOU decide that you’re not going to participate in it anymore. When you commit to yourself that you are worthy of love and respect, when you recognize your toxic relationship addiction for what it is, and when you learn how to cultivate the type of healing mindset that will set you free, you can end your toxic relationship for once and for all.

Letting Go of a Toxic Relationship

Because so many people have been reaching out for relationship advice on how to deal with these types of toxic relationship situations, I decided to devote an episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to this subject. On this episode we’re going to be talking all about toxic relationships, including:

  • How to identify toxic relationships. I’ll be sharing the top 5 signs that you’re in a toxic relationship. Listen and give yourself the mini, “toxic relationship quiz” to find out if your relationship is actually toxic, or just temporarily frustrating.
  • Why toxic relationships are so addictive. Instead of beating yourself up for remaining in a bad relationship, learn why you’re biologically predisposed to developing intense attachments to others and why toxic relationships are actually MORE addictive than healthy relationships.
  • The difference between healthy vs toxic relationships. Just because your relationship feels hard and frustrating does not mean it’s toxic and irredeemable. Learn the difference between toxic and healthy relationships, and get access to some relationship resources to help you determine whether you should keep working at this, or move on.
  • How to leave a toxic relationship with your dignity intact. Too many toxic relationships end with, ironically, the person who was caring, trying, and hurting getting broken up with. If you’re in a toxic relationship, don’t continue to dangle on this string, waiting and hoping it will get better until they end it. Take your power back, and decide for yourself to be done. If you’re realizing that it’s time for you to pick up your self respect and move on from a toxic relationship, we’ll talk about how. We’ll discuss how to cultivate  self-compassion, self-respect. and the ability to stop depending on an unreliable, hurtful person to love you, and instead, learn how to love yourself.

 

You might be listening to this podcast at the cusp of a new year (or other major life change) and ready to leave this relationship for good. You might be just starting to explore whether or not the relationship you’re in is salvageable. You might be realizing that your relationship is toxic, but still in love and not sure how to end things. You may be caught in a toxic relationship cycle of breaking up and getting back together again. Or, you might be sitting in the pain, anger and heartbreak of just having been hurt again for the dozenth time, and looking for answers.

This podcast is for YOU.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: One of the tools I mentioned if you’re still in that “can this relationship be saved” space is my relationship quiz that can help you learn whether your relationship is fundamentally strong, or fundamentally toxic. Here’s the sign up box in case you’d like to take it. xo, LMB

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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship, With Dignity

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

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Mindful Self Compassion

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

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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What is Self Love?

What is Self Love?

What is Self Love?

Teena Evert, M.A., LAC, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified coach with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She specializes in wholehearted living and empowered relationships. She can help you connect with your true self, and cultivate thriving relationships with others.

Understanding Self-Love

What is self-love? Why is self-love so important? The importance of self-love cannot be overstated. “Self Love” refers to our ability to hold ourselves in esteem and have confidence in our worth, no matter what happens around us.

Allow me to give you an example of the power of self-love, and how the lack of self-love can negatively impact you.

Lack of Self-Love

Does this sound familiar?

You feel like angry gremlins are coming at you, you’re exhausted from hauling the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’ve got this imaginary ball and chain locked around your ankles, and if that isn’t enough you’re at your wits end from constantly dodging bullets that are aimed right at your head and chest!

The truth is, you may not even actually be emotionally attacked or dragged down. But when you’re feeling vulnerable or insecure, it can seem that way. These are all distortions we can experience when our self-love tank is running on empty and our self-hate tank is topped off and running on full throttle.

The Importance of Self-Love

Did you know that the level of our self-love affects every aspect of our life?

The way we feel about ourselves impacts our relationships, our careers, how much money we make, how happy we truly are, and how people perceive us.

To determine your level of self-love, here’s a quick “self-love” quiz:

How to Practice Self-Love

Your self-love will increase if you begin to see who you really are, rather than seeing yourself through all the false beliefs and distortions. As adults, we need to take responsibility for knowing who we really are. When we are able to embrace this responsibility, then we know we are connected to our authentic or truest self. At the very essence of who we really are is a deep reservoir for our capacity to love, experience joy and compassion.

Reminding yourself that you are a good person, worthy of love and respect, will help you swat away the false beliefs telling you otherwise.

Here are 3 positive affirmations for self-love, to help guide you towards expressing your true authentic self

  1. “I don’t allow other people to define who I am.”
  2. “The worth of my true authentic self is intact, unchanging, and nothing can change it and nothing I do can take it away from me.”
  3. “My self-worth is not based on my performance or how others think of me.” (Otherwise, your self-worth will fluctuate based on those events.) 

Why Self-Love is So Important

Many of the issues that people struggle with, such as depression, anxiety, and relationship issues are really symptoms of a lack of self-love and disconnection from their true authentic self. When people feel insecure, they can worry, feel sad, or even lash out. In contrast when you feel confident and embracing of the real you, those bad feelings are less likely to arise.

Examples of Self-Love

Be kind to yourself as you learn to apply these principles of self-love into your daily living.

Believe in yourself as you open your heart to the magnificence of who you truly are.

Allow yourself to be curious as you learn to raise the level of joy in your tank of self-love.

A powerful form of self-love can even be reaching out for support when you need it. When you work with an experienced therapist or life coach, you can understand the roots of self-worth issues, and begin building yourself up from the inside out. When you feel good about yourself, you’ll feel not just happier but more empowered in your life and your relationships. 

I believe you deserve that, and I hope that you do too.


Warmly,

Teena Evert, M.A., LPC, LAC, LMFT

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
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