Why Does Life Suck Even When You Try to Make it Better? (2021)

Are you feeling like life sucks right now? It has been a tough year for many, and it is ok if you are at a bit of a low point right now. It is normal for people to feel like life is out to get us when they face a series of challenges that are beyond their control.

There are a variety of things that can make life sucky, like death, finances, job loss, physical and mental health issues, and other personal tragedies. The list can get rather long! Why is it that when we try to make those things better, life sucks just a little more?

Life can be hard, and it often seems like “when it rains it pours,” but don’t let it get you down! Understanding why life sucks and realizing there are things you can do to make it through the hard times will help you build a new perspective.

“Life is amazing. Even when it sucks, it is amazing, and we should be grateful for every moment.” — Hal Elrod

The biological reason “life sucks”

“Our brains are wired to scout for the bad stuff,” says psychologist and author Rick Hanson. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias. Our brains naturally give more weight to the negative experiences we go through. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, when something negative (and often out of our control happens) it takes more brainpower to process through. Our brains are on high alert, fixating on the perceived threat, and trying to ensure our survival.

Humans have one biological goal in life, and that is to survive. The need to survive is stronger than the need to procreate. So, when something terrible happens, and we feel threatened, our brain devotes all our time and energy to handle that. This makes us more likely to remember bad memories and troublesome times, more easily than the good times. According to author and Stanford professor Clifford Nass, “We tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events—and use stronger words to describe them—than happy ones.”

While it is in our genetic makeup to focus on the negative and search out the environment for threats, we also have tools to help us learn to change our perspective and rewire our thinking. When we take steps to improve our life, we are usually stepping outside of our comfort zone, and that causes us anxiety and worry, which can make us think that life still sucks. Life might also seem to suck while you try to implement these tools because it requires effort and takes some time.

“Consequently, just because many people think that their life sucks, doesn’t mean that it necessarily does. What is true is that many people make the mistake of comparing their lives to the lives of others.” — Brian Kasperitis

Your thoughts matter

My therapist is always telling me that, “our brain only believes what we tell it.” It really is a fascinating and slightly wacky concept. She told me once that if a person told themselves the sky was purple, often enough and believed the sky was purple, that it would eventually be purple.

The human brain cannot discern thoughts from facts on its own. It relies on us to send it messages, information, and beliefs. So, the more you tell yourself “life sucks” and “the world is out to get you,” the more you will start looking for evidence and believing that to be true. The trick here is to manage your perception and thoughts.

Start by labeling your thoughts. I know this is going to sound a little weird, but with practice and conscious effort, it will become more natural and easier for you to do. Instead of saying, “life sucks,” or my favorite, “the universe hates me,” label your thoughts like this:

  • I am having a thought that life sucks.
  • I am having a thought that the universe hates me.
  • I am having a thought that nothing I do will make any difference.

How does this help at all? Well, it helps you to identify the thoughts you have. It also helps you gain perspective and realize that just because you think something, does not make it true. You can also take some seriousness out of negative thoughts by singing them or hearing them in a funny voice. Kind of how like when I say, “You’re in good hands,” you hear it in the Allstate guy’s voice.

The goal here is to make them sound silly or downright absurd because that will be harder for you to believe they hold much weight. Another trick my therapist taught me was to imagine my thoughts as appearing in the clouds and then watching them blow away. Heck, you can write your negative thoughts down, and then rip the paper into shreds.

You are having these thoughts because your brain is trying to ward off the threats and keep you alert. When we are trying to do things that improve our lives, they often involve change, unknown factors, and hard work.

You can acknowledge that, but at the same time tell yourself that if you can not control the situation, then your brain doesn’t need to worry about it! All of which can make us anxious. Thank it for trying and then tell yourself that you do not have to worry about this. This is where perception really comes into play.

“If you think your life sucks, it probably does. Do something about it.” — Chris Crutcher

Perception matters, too

Perception is the way you recognize and interpret sensory stimuli and is based on your memories. If we tried something once, and it blew up in our faces, we usually aren’t in a hurry to do it again.

That experience created data in our minds. Perception is the way you interpret that data and life events. There are many factors that influence the way we perceive events, especially those where we feel like life sucks. They include:

  • Our Heredity. Height, skin color, and gender impact the way we view the world.
  • Our Needs. Physiological needs, such as food and water (or lack thereof), influence our feelings about certain situations.
  • Our peers. We determine what is desirable or undesirable, based on the opinions of the people around us.
  • Our interests. We assign value and importance based on how much pleasure or reward we receive from a certain activity or product.
  • Our expectations. Our expectations affect our perception after the fact.

When thinking about the reasons that life could suck, and the thoughts we have about them, it is easy to see how important perception is. For instance, if you look at losing your job as a negative thing because you are going to have less money, less security, and “less” in general, you would perceive that as a bad thing. However, if you look at losing your job as an opportunity to learn a new skill, find a better job, or start your own business, losing your job could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Gratitude and reframing your thoughts will help you learn to find a new perspective on things. Of course, it’s challenging to look for a positive spin on situations that you have always perceived as negative. That struggle alone can add to the feeling that life sucks, while you try to reframe your thoughts and teach yourself alternative ways to think. More struggle means more feelings like things are terrible.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” — Chuck Palahniuk

It will take practice

It will take practice, patience, and conscious thoughts and decisions to accept that sometimes bad things happen in life that we cannot control. We can only control the way we react and respond to these events. If you want to feel like life sucks less, then changing the things you focus on, rethinking the way you think, and developing a new perception will help.

If you feel you are struggling with something that is just too big for these tips to help you out, then reach out for some help. There is no shame in admitting that life is a struggle and connecting with someone who has the training to help you get through it.

A therapist or a life coach will help you process past or current trauma while giving you tools you can use to keep going. Remember, it might be awful right now, but you won’t always feel the way you do right this moment.

Life is like a pendulum, sometimes it swings really far out toward good, and other times, it swings the other way, toward terrible. Ride the wave when you can and reach out for help when you need it. You aren’t alone and people out there love you, even when you feel like life sucks.

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3 Tips to Repair a Hate-Filled Mother-Daughter Relationship

It always makes me feel a little uncomfortable to say, “I hate my mother.” It pains me to say, “My mother hates me.” There are many reasons a mom and daughter might find themselves in this situation.

In my case, I have two moms. To say our relationships were strained doesn’t cut it, but hate doesn’t seem like the word either. You might have a similar relationship with your mother and wonder if it is ok to feel this way. It is because your feelings are valid.

However, if you are looking for ways to repair the relationship, then try these things: be compassionate and open-minded, set realistic expectations, and be as forgiving as you can.

The inadequate mother you hate because she left you behind

My birth mother abandoned me because drugs were more important to her than being a mother. She ended up living a life filled with crime and poor decisions. She wound up in witness protection, right before my freshman year of high school, which led to my maternal grandma adopting my sister and me. As a child, my feelings for her were conflicted. I loved her and missed her all the time; I just wanted to be with her.

However, it got harder to feel that love with every broken promise and the realization that I would never live with her. I would get so angry at her for leaving me behind. I would wish she had just aborted me too, so I didn’t have to decide to live with that pain every day or end it myself.

I was 17, and about to start college when my grandmother took us on a road trip. I didn’t know that she had known where my mother was, or that we were going to see her. When we got there, it was a floodgate of so many emotions, and I was so young and had not really processed my trauma. I just knew that this felt like my one chance to repair this relationship and I had to take it.

We talked a lot during those five months I lived with her and I asked every question I had ever wanted to know. I asked her why she didn’t give us to our dad instead of ostracizing him from our lives (at this point I hadn’t seen him since I was 5.)? I asked her what he was like. I questioned if she had ever loved us at all.

I listened to her answers with an incredibly open mind because I was young and innocent then. I wanted to just take everything she said at face value. She talked about her complicated dynamic with my grandma and the abuse she had suffered. I asked her why she would leave my sister and me in that same environment, and she said that she thought it would be better. I believed her, and I forgave her with not much thought.

She was killed in a car accident right around the time I realized what a toxic parent she actually was. She had encouraged me to take part in things that were reckless and bad for me. I had gone along willingly because I wanted her to love me. I didn’t like how I was losing myself and had tried to behave in a way that was typical for me.

I am glad that I took the time to listen to her and get to know her a little more. If I had given in to the anger and sadness, I wouldn’t have had the time with her I did. I regret many things from this period, but not trying to forge a relationship with her.

I still struggle with complicated feelings about the type of mother she was, and her death itself, but being open-minded and compassionate led to us having some kind of relationship before she died, and I am glad for it. However, that time damaged the relationship between her and my grandma, and me and my grandma even more.

The mother you hate because of a history of abuse

My grandmother was emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive. That had been a driving force in the anger I felt for both her and my mother. I was mad at my mother for leaving me there, and it hurt me that my grandma could be so cruel sometimes.

When I stayed with my mom, my grandma stopped speaking to both of us. She refused to send my money that she had been holding for me, along with any of my belongings. When my mom died, I know she felt not only the anguish of losing a child but guilt that they weren’t speaking.

She blamed me for the rift between them, even blaming my mother’s car accident on me. She told me that had I not stayed with her, she wouldn’t have been trying to finish her route so fast to get back in time for my school event. Therefore, she wouldn’t have been on that road at night, and wouldn’t have died.

I know she said this from a place of grief, and I try to have compassion for her. I also know that she grew up in Europe during WWII and was from an abusive home. Her trauma is severe, so for years, I have tried to forgive and understand.

We are currently not speaking, not because I can’t forgive her, but because she is incapable of following any of my boundaries. I tried setting reasonable boundaries because I realize that at 80 years old she can’t change the person she is. There is a lifetime of agony that she would have to process.

I can be open-minded and forgiving, but not at the expense of myself. I told her we could talk about anything except for the events of the past that she wants to blame me for. I do not want to talk about the things I blame her for, and would rather we look forward. It is not something that she has done.

Setting realistic boundaries does not mean that you keep moving the bar lower and lower until your mother can reach it. It means that you compromise, but not so far that you cause yourself mental harm. I have extended as much as I can, and the ball is now in her court. However, she tells everyone that I hate her, and the way she treats me makes me feel like she hates me. It is the very definition of a toxic relationship, and I had to learn when to walk away.

To repair the relationship or walk away

Should you repair the relationship or walk away, can be one of the hardest questions to ask yourself. There is no wrong answer though because the way you feel is valid and only you can decide what is right. I would recommend a therapist to help you sort through your feelings if you feel you are struggling. Being compassionate and open-minded, setting realistic expectations, and being as forgiving as you can, is not always an easy road.

Compassion and open-mindedness mean you can understand, listen, and empathize with why your mother is the way she is. It means that you can accept that her feelings are also valid. It does not mean that you have to re-write your own story to see it her way. Psychoanalyst and emotions educator Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, explains “There is no objectivity in relationships, just subjective experience. There’s a strong likelihood that you and your mother see things from a different perspective.”

Ask yourself if you can see things from her point of view. Can you try to understand where she is coming from? Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, which requires listening and communication, can be the first step to healing a relationship. If you try that, and the other person is unwilling to keep an open mind and listen to your feelings, it might be time to take a step back.

Don’t be afraid to set those realistic expectations and boundaries. They are healthy and important. Accepting that the mother-daughter relationship is complex, and nothing like the perfect TV moms is a critical place to start. You will likely never take the broken pieces of this relationship and glue them together in a seamless way.

The cracks will be visible, and there might even be a piece or two that is missing. When I was little my grandma would always complain that everything in her house was, “broken, chipped, or glued.” However, sometimes that is the best that can be done to salvage something. If the other person is only willing to settle for an idyllic solution, it is ok to recognize that is not possible.

Search your heart and be as forgiving as you can, but know that forgiveness benefits you. It does not mean that you have to continue to have a relationship with someone. It means that you can let go of the anger and resentment, maybe even hate, that you have been feeling. It is about acceptance and release, not enabling someone to treat you in a negative manner.

Stay strong and stay true to yourself, repair the relationship if you can, but know it is ok to take care of yourself. There is no shame in getting help from a therapist, or even going to therapy with your mom to try and sort through the relationship. It can be lonely to feel like your mom hates you, or you hate your mom, but you are never alone. There are more of us out here struggling with this relationship than you realize, and we can be there for one another. Leave a comment below if you feel like sharing your story.

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75 Humility Quotes to Inspire You to Live a Happier Life (2021)


It’s one of those things I didn’t really understand the point of when I was younger.

But with age and time I learned how important it was for me to stay sharp, to keep moving forward in life, to be kinder and to not create problems for myself by thinking I was better and smarter than I actually was.

That’s what I’ve gained from that sobering humility. But today I’d like to share not only the impact it has had on my own life but also the best quotes I have found about humility.

The top timeless thoughts about staying humble and not getting lost in pride or arrogance but to stay grounded in humility and reality.

And if you want more motivation to keep your feet on the ground and yourself happy then also have a look at this post about empathy and also this post filled with quotes about inner peace.

Humility Quotes About Life, Happiness and Success

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
C. S. Lewis

“Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don’t.”
Tom Hiddleston

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.”
Jesse Jackson

“Thank you” is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Alice Walker

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
Ernest Hemingway

“Humility is really important because it keeps you fresh and new.”
Steven Tyler

“A great man is always willing to be little.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Just knowing you don’t have the answers is a recipe for humility, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an eagerness to learn – and those are all good things.”
Dick Van Dyke

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Bill Gates 

“Have more humility. Remember you don’t know the limits of your own abilities. Successful or not, if you keep pushing beyond yourself, you will enrich your own life–and maybe even please a few strangers.”
A.L. Kennedy

“Humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will.”
Zig Ziglar

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”
Winston S. Churchill

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”
Lao Tzu

“If pain doesn’t lead to humility, you have wasted your suffering.”
Katerina Stoykova Klemer

“I always say be humble but be firm. Humility and openness are the key to success without compromising your beliefs.”
George Hickenlooper

“Real genius is nothing else but the supernatural virtue of humility in the domain of thought.”
Simone Weil

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.”
E.A. Bucchianeri

“Selflessness is humility. Humility and freedom go hand in hand. Only a humble person can be free.”
Jeff Wilson

“Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
Anthony Bourdain

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

“The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.”
Charles Caleb Colton

“Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.”
Rick Pitino

“Humility, I have learned, must never be confused with meekness. Humility is being open to the ideas of others.”
Simon Sinek

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”
Theodore Roosevelt

“Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.”
Charles Spurgeon

“Mastery begins with humility.”
Robin Sharma

“There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.”
Nelson Mandela

“I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don’t mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.”
John Ruskin

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”
James E. Faust

“Humility is attentive patience.”
Simone Weil

“True humility is intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.”
Ralph W. Sockman

“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

“Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Live a life full of humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity, and never stop learning.”

“Without humility there can be no humanity.”
John Buchan

“The humble listen to their brothers and sisters because they assume they have something to learn. They are open to correction, and they become wiser through it.”
Thomas Dubay

“There is beauty and humility in imperfection.”
Guillermo del Toro

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.”

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
J.M. Barrie

“There is strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the Sun will rise again tomorrow.”
Aaron Lauritsen

You may also want to have a look at this post with quotes about regret.

Funny Humility Quotes

“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”
Winston Churchill

“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”
Mignon McLaughlin

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”

“Flattery is all right so long as you don’t inhale.”
Adlai Stevenson

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”
Ann Landers

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.”
Carl Jung

“A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.”
Albert Einstein

“There are two kinds of egotists: Those who admit it, and the rest of us.”
Laurence J. Peter

“Just remember, when someone has an accent, it means that he knows one more language than you do.”
Sidney Sheldon

“Whenever the world throws rose petals at you, which thrill and seduce the ego, beware. The cosmic banana peel is suddenly going to appear underfoot to make sure you don’t take it all too seriously, that you don’t fill up on junk food.”
Anne Lamott

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
Michel de Montaigne

Quotes About Kindness, Pride and Humility

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.”
Thomas Merton

“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
Alexander Pope

“Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.”
St. Vincent de Paul

“With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings.”
Ezra Taft Benson

“Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.”
Madeleine L’Engle

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
C.S. Lewis

“I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.”
Hermann Hesse

“The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don’t mean doubt of his powers or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do.”
John Ruskin

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”
Saint Augustine

“A little humility goes a long way.”
Dean Ornish

“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

“As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, ‘I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal.”
Harper Lee

“Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.”
Colin Powell

“Power is dangerous unless you have humility.”
Richard J. Daley

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
Augustine of Hippo

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Ernest Hemingway

“It’s important that what thoughts you are feeding into your mind because your thoughts create your belief and experiences. You have positive thoughts and you have negative ones too. Nurture your mind with positive thoughts: kindness, empathy, compassion, peace, love, joy, humility, generosity, etc. The more you feed your mind with positive thoughts, the more you can attract great things into your life.”
Roy T. Bennett

“Those who travel to mountain-tops are half in love with themselves, and half in love with oblivion.”
Robert Macfarlane

“It is together that we will be able to save our biodiversity. This is a principle of effectiveness. But it is also a principle of humility; none of us can act alone.”
Albert II, Prince of Monaco

“While differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.”
Karl R. Popper

“It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
Herman Hesse

“Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot.”
Thomas Moore

Want even more? Check out this post with compassion quotes and also this one with quotes on giving.


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Never Feel Guilty About Severing Ties With a Toxic Person (2021)

About a year ago, I severed ties with a toxic member of my family. With the help of my therapist, we decided it was in the best interest of my mental health that I do not continue to rehash all the trauma of my past, as this person likes to do.

It has made dealing with my trauma, much easier, and enabled me to focus on healing. However, recently I was speaking with my sister, and the guilt set in. It is hard to not feel guilty when you have emotional ties to someone else who sees you as the villain in their story.

My sister reminded me that this person has also suffered trauma in her life, and it is the reason she is the way she is. My family member raised us and did the best she could. I believe that, and I know also that I am the strong person I am today, because of her and her actions, both the good and the bad. A lot of those good and bad things overlap.

For instance, she pushed me to be the best I could be, but also made me feel like nothing I did was good enough. She taught me to be strong and not let the circumstances of my early childhood hold me back. However, that meant bottling it all up and trudging through, focusing on control, not healing.

All of this, coupled with my family member’s advanced age and failing health, weighs on me. Am I doing the right thing? Should I change my mind and speak to her because I feel guilty when I remember the wonderful memories? I believe the answer is no, and I try to remind myself of all the reasons not to feel guilty for removing yourself from a toxic situation.

“A bad relationship is like standing on broken glass, if you stay you will keep hurting. If you walk away, you will hurt, but eventually, you will heal.” ― Autumn Kohler

What makes a relationship toxic?

Dr. Lillian Glass, a communication and psychology expert, is the author of the book Toxic People. She defines a toxic relationship as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.” Now, every relationship has its challenges. However, deep-rooted issues like disrespect for boundaries and manipulation should not be ignored.

These types of relationships cause both parties emotional pain and mental anguish. There are also effects on our physical health in these relationships. When that happens, it is a vicious cycle that ends up hurting everyone. The realization of that fact is one reason I remind myself not to feel guilty.

It took me years to realize that I am not capable of giving her the answers, absolution, or love she wants from me; any more than she can give the same to me. She is the victim when she tells the story of our past, and I am tired of defending myself. Every time she and I argue, her blood pressure rises to unhealthy levels. She is clearly as hurt as I am. So severing ties is as good for her as it is for me, even if she can not admit it. It also does not mean that I do not love her, because I do, and always will.

“We can deeply love our poison. We can love the taste of it, the scent of it, the comforting weight of it in our belly and find ourselves woken in the night with stabbing cramps, arms around porcelain toilet bowls, hurling every last bit until collapsing on bathroom tile, limp from dehydration. Sometimes parting with love is essential for survival. I’ve found the most tragic aspect of losing loved ones wasn’t the big boom of the fallout, but realizing later how much healthier I was without them.” ― Maggie Young

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty

The guilt that I feel is exacerbated by several emotions, like loyalty, fear, and love. Society teaches us we should be loyal to our family, above all else. It is a tool that toxic people use to control other members of their family whenever they seek to spread their wings and reach for independence. We should build loyalty from the respect of our boundaries and care for one another, not just created by blood or accidents of birth.

Fear plays a big role in my guilt as well. I fear how I will feel when I can’t speak to her anymore because she is no longer around. I can assume how I will feel, but I do not have a crystal ball. Earlier, in our relationship, she used to scare me with failure so I would do things the way she wanted me to do.

She would say things like, “When you fail, don’t come back to me.” Or, “You can do this your way, but it won’t work and no one else is going to help you.” I learned at a young age to rely on myself and face my fears. (It is one of those things that I learned from her, and that I am thankful for.) However, the people who love and support you should not use your fears to hold you back. Remember that when the guilt gets heavy and you feel afraid of your decisions.

Perhaps the strongest emotion that brings about the guilt people feel for removing toxic people from their lives is love. I think about the happy memories we have, like playing Canasta and laughing, or how much I loved her for staying when both my parents left me. Part of me truly wishes that she could be around and visit, and take part in our lives.

But sadly, love is not always enough. Self-love is essential to living a healthy life. There are people in your world who need you to be a happy and healthy version of yourself because they love you and you love them. You shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to make sure that you can give them the best version of yourself.

Having these emotions contributes to the guilt people feel when they choose to let people into or stay in their lives. Only you know what your breaking point is, and what you can live with. There are a few steps you can take before cutting someone off completely that might help you feel less guilty.

“There are only two kinds of people who can drain your energy: those you love, and those you fear. In both instances, it is you who let them in. They did not force their way into your aura, or pry their way into your reality experience.” ― Anthon St. Maarten

What you can do if you aren’t ready to distance yourself

If you are unsure if cutting off the toxic person in your life is the next step, ask yourself if you have tried these things:

  • Take a break where you can assess your feelings
  • Speak up and make sure the other person is aware of your boundaries
  • Stop seeking validation from them and learn to validate yourself
  • Acknowledge your own shortcomings in the relationship
  • Ask yourself what you gain by cutting off this relationship instead of focusing on what you are losing
  • Get help from a moderator or therapist if you need it

You will be less likely to feel guilty if you have taken these steps and know that you did whatever you could to salvage the relationship. You should never feel guilty for safeguarding your health and making yourself a priority. It is your life and living it in a way that serves your purpose is up to you. Guilt can be difficult to wade through, but living in the moment and being at peace with why you have done the things you have done can make it all a little more bearable.

“If it comes, let it come. If it goes, it’s ok, let it go. Let things come and go. Stay calm, don’t let anything disturb your peace, and carry on.” ― Germany Kent

There are so many feelings when you decide to cut off a toxic person. There is not an actual answer or one that works for everyone. Ask yourself which is harder to deal with and make the decision that works for you. It is your right to live your life with as much peace as you can find. It isn’t easy to find peace in this world, and anything that helps you get there is the right thing to do. Whatever you decide will probably hurt, but your feelings are your own, and if you feel healthier and more stable, then that is all that matters.

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5 Date Ideas to Help Keep Your Relationship Exciting

If you are married or in a committed relationship, experts will agree that you should continue to date your significant other. COVID-19 has made that a challenge, but there are still great ways you can enjoy some quality time with your partner.

You might wonder why you should date your spouse. Dating keeps your relationship exciting and according to Marriagehub.com, it can help build communication, help you de-stress, and remind you that your partner is someone you like to have fun with.

Each of these five date ideas will incorporate all those important relationship stepping stones, and maybe even bring about a little romance!

Date #1 ‘Revolving Dinner and Conversation’

This date sounds like a ton of fun, and I heard about it from a friend the other day after she and her husband tried it. By tweaking her idea, just a little, you can add in some incredible opportunities to have some meaningful conversations.

If you have been with your partner for a long time, you may have noticed that you talk a lot, but it’s always about the same things. Which kids’ activities are happening, did all the bills get paid, how is work, are just a sample of the mundane conversation we have in our day-to-day lives. This is not only a fun date, but it will get you talking about something else.

Basically, you break dinner down into four courses: drinks, appetizers, entrée, and dessert. Then you take four slips of paper and write your name on two of them, and your partner’s name on the other two. Each person then comes up with two conversation topics and writes one on each of their slips of paper.

These conversation starters are a chance to be vulnerable and real with one another, in a way you might have been neglecting. Here are a few of my favorites (Indwell has 50 conversation staters) to get you thinking, but remember all those normally talked about topics are off-limits:

  • What’s a question you’ve always wanted to ask me, but never have?
  • If safety wasn’t a concern, which natural phenomenon/ disaster would you want to experience?
  • What is your favorite thing that I do in bed?
  • What would make up a perfect day for you?
  • Is intelligence or wisdom more useful?

Once you have that done, grab a hat (or anything to put the paper in), and draw the first slip out of the hat. The person whose name was drawn gets to pick a place to have drinks, and their conversation starter is discussed.

When you finish up drinks, get back in the car and draw another slip. You guessed it! That person gets to choose where you will have appetizers, and their topic is open for discussion. Keep going until you get through with dessert!

“You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you.” — Bob Marley

Date #2 ‘Sip and Paint’

I always thought this was an activity that was better suited to a group of friends, but my husband and I did this the other night. We had a blast! We got to tap into our creative side, relax with a drink, and spend some time with just the two of us! It was the perfect way to de-stress, even though it can be a little messy!

We also got to listen to some outstanding 90s jams the owner had playing, and we talked while we painted. He was a little worried because he “Isn’t artsy,” but the lady was there for any help we needed with technique. Your painting does not have to be perfect, so don’t worry about that and just have fun!

This date also gave us a chance to build up one another while we complemented each other’s work. The paintings were a big hit when we got home and are now hanging in our preteen son’s room.

“Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational.” — Hugh Mackay

Date #3 ‘Scrapbooking’

This is a great socially distanced date idea, in case you are not ready to venture outside into the world just yet! All you need is a scrapbook and some supplies and pictures of you guys together. This will get you both together and reminiscing about some of the best moments in your relationship, while you decide what pictures to put inside.

Once you have decided on the pictures you want to use, then you can plan out how to make your scrapbook. It’s your guys’ book, so decorate it in a way that fits who you are. Then challenge yourself to write one thing each of you felt when those pictures were taken.

This date is a lot of fun to make together. The walk down memory lane will bring up lots of happy feelings, and you will have something tangible you two can share years later!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Date #4 ‘Casino Night’

‘Casino Night’ is the perfect date for when you have the house to yourselves! You can make this as spicy as you want, by raising the stakes. Set up a poker table (depending on what you plan on ‘wagering’ you might want to play this game last… or not!) and see if the cards are in your favor.

You could play roulette and assign each number with chores and if you pick that number and win then you don’t have to do it for the next two weeks. You could also assign certain activities to the numbers, and if you choose that number and win, you get to do that activity right then. If you go that route, playing poker first might be more prudent!

This date night is perfect if you were looking for a little ‘luck.’ If you aren’t feeling that adventurous, but are looking to have a little fun, then you can’t go wrong with this one. The sky is the limit and you and your partner can set risk whatever you feel comfortable with.

“Sex is like money; only too much is enough.” — John Updike

Date #5 ‘Volunteering’

This date is a wonderful opportunity to get out and give back to the causes that matter to you both. When you volunteer as a couple, you get to build a meaningful memory, centered around a shared set of values. This will not only benefit those you are helping but strengthen the bond you have together as well.

The University of California psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky recommends that couples actively work at building companionship through making time to talk and be together. Depending on what type of volunteering you do, this might be a perfect opportunity for just that! One year, back when Disney was doing the ‘Give a day, get a day’ campaign, my husband, and I picked up trash off the highway.

We were happy that day, out in the sun, working on something that meant a lot to us both.

We got to take a walk, help the planet, and talk with one another all at the same time. We also got to go to Disney later, and that was lots of fun!

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Ready to spend more quality time together?

Whether you are looking to spend more quality time together, have fun, communicate better, or spice up things in the bedroom, these date ideas will have you on the right track. The relationships we have with our partners in life is one that shouldn’t get ignored, regardless of how long you have been with someone. Life is hard though and we settle into just trying to survive every day.

Remember, you aren’t alone and there is someone that would love to spend some time with you. Dating was important when you were trying to build a relationship, and it is critical now that you are trying to maintain one.

What are some of the best dates you have been on? What made them special? Have you been keeping up with dating your spouse even though we are living through the plague? Share any socially distant date ideas or tips in the comment section below! We could all use some fresh ideas and help one another out!

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3 Ways Your Past Trauma Affects Your Children

Parenting is hard, and most of us go into the job wanting to be the best parent we can be to our kids. Parenting when you have experienced childhood trauma is a special challenge that requires managing your expectations, being aware of your limitations, and paying attention to your empathy.

I’m still learning how to parent through my trauma, and lately, I have noticed how my trauma affects my children. If you are struggling to parent through your own trauma, you are not alone.

There are three things I have noticed about the ways my trauma-based parenting affects my children. First, my need to be “good enough” creates a set of unrealistic expectations, which can harm my children’s ability to develop self-confidence.

Second, when I feel like I should be a better parent and I am failing, I get irritable and cranky and my children feel I am upset with them.

Lastly, I haven’t always handled the problems my children face with the empathy I should have, leaving them without the comfort I should have given them.

Your child is watching you while they build their sense of self

My daughter and I had what I would consider a wonderful relationship. We were close, I always came to her dance routines, and made sure she took part in whatever activities interested her. I cooked dinners most nights, kept a relatively clean house, gave her a balance of chores and freedoms.

She did well in school, is absolutely gorgeous, both outside and inside. It never occurred to me that she would struggle with self-esteem issues. Then she hit her teenage years and started saying things like she wasn’t smart enough or pretty enough. It dumbfounded me.

We ended up in therapy, and I told the therapist that I didn’t know why she felt this way. My grandmother used to take my homework and throw it away if I erased too much and made me redo it. I never did that to her. She asked me how I treated myself. It is not surprising to anyone who knows me I am a perfectionist.

I told the therapist how I threw a gingerbread house in the trash one year, because it didn’t look like the picture and we never did another one. When I do home improvement projects, I am also careful to make everything as perfect as possible. She said, “She has watched you be critical of yourself her whole life, and picked up the same behavior.”

It never occurred to me that even though I was consciously attempting to not be critical of her, that being critical of myself was just as bad.

According to Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., “when parents feel negatively toward themselves, it is equally easy for them to extend these feelings to their children. The negative thoughts parents harbor toward themselves can lead to parental rejection, neglect, or hostility. Not only are parents more likely to be critical of their offspring in ways that are similar to the ways they are disapproving of themselves, but their negative self-esteem also serves as an example for their children.”

This moment was quite the gut punch because I thought I had been parenting purposefully so that she would feel none of these things. I had to learn how to love myself for being who I was, and not as a perfect mother. There is no such thing, just as there are no perfect children. My poor child had spent years watching me struggle with unrealistic expectations and had adopted these for herself.

“Most of us have unhealthy thoughts and emotions that have either developed as a result of trauma or hardships in their childhood, or the way they were raised.” — Steven Seagal

Your children get the brunt of your unresolved feelings

We had been fighting like crazy during the months before we ended up in therapy. I was constantly annoyed and lashing out every time she said something that hurt my feelings. I ended up sobbing one day because she wanted to ride to a dance function with her friends, instead of with me, when she knew I had taken the day off to drive them all there. On one hand, I knew it was perfectly normal for her to want to spend time with her friends, but it hurt.

It brought up all my feelings of abandonment and poked at the carefully patched holes of my self-worth. I was trying to be rational, but my anger would bubble to the surface and manifest itself in hostility. This only made the both of us feel worse. I knew we couldn’t go on like this. My therapist diagnosed me with PTSD. Admitting that enabled me to look at how those symptoms were affecting my parenting.

I was detaching myself from my oldest child because she kept talking about moving away. Subconsciously, I knew how much this would hurt, and my body was trying to spare itself the pain.

Avoiding reminders is another PTSD coping system I tried to use, and every time we would fight, I recalled the fights I had with my grandmother. I couldn’t just avoid being a parent, and it was making me angry. I was having trouble sleeping, which was contributing to my grim mood. This mood was creating adverse feelings in our home, and I was yelling a lot.

According to recent research by the National Institutes of Health, yelling makes children more aggressive, both physically and verbally. Yelling, regardless of the reason, expresses anger and can make your children feel insecure. It is hard to not yell when you are dealing with your own trauma and PTSD, but there are things you can do to yell less:

  • Step away, giving yourself a “time-out”
  • Talk about your feelings, while encouraging your children to do the same
  • Remain calm when you are frustrated

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.” ― Judith Lewis Herman

Your children are seeking comfort and learning empathy from you

For us, the yelling seemed to escalate from conversations where she came to me with some of her problems. These were normal teenage problems, like a fight with a friend. At first, I would try to be empathetic and give her guidance. She would inevitably start crying and saying how I didn’t understand.

While this is something I think every teenager says, but the truth was she was right. All the normal high school drama was the least of my problems when I was in high school. My mother had been placed in witness protection, my grandparents formally adopted me, and I was dealing with being abandoned by my father as a child.

The drama in highschool never made me cry as much as those things did. Watching my daughter become completely devastated by these things made me sad for her, but it also made me angry, because I couldn’t understand it.

Our realities and our perception were too far apart for us to understand one another. She felt like I didn’t care about her problems when in actuality I cared so much that she was hurting, that I got frustrated because I couldn’t help her. Which led to me yelling, instead of being empathetic.

As a parent, part of our job is to teach our children to be good people who can show empathy. I was struggling and became clear when I noticed she was becoming less empathetic with her own peers. Empathy is how we help ourselves and others, and it is a necessary part of human strength.

“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” — Unknown

I had always thought that I had my trauma under control and that all my decisions when it came to parenting would ensure my children grew up as unaffected by trauma as humanly possible. However, life does not work that way, and trauma is something that does not get controlled.

It is something that you have to work through in order to find acceptance. It is an insidious thing that creeps into your life in unexpected ways. I am thankful that therapy helped me recognize the areas in my life where trauma was wreaking havoc so that I could grow into a better parent.

This kind of introspection is difficult, as growth usually is, but it is also critical for healing. We can heal from trauma, and it can benefit those around us, especially our children. If you are trying to parent through trauma, please know you are not alone.

It is ok to seek help or therapy; it does not mean the trauma has won or that you are a failure. It means that you love your kids and that you would suffer through the pain of trauma twice, just to ensure that they have the best start in life they can. Parenting is difficult, and we can only do the best that we can do. Lead from a place of love, and you and your children will come out the other side.

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