Sunday, July 12, 2015

6 Things Dating Has Taught Me




Several years ago I became obsessed with the idea of meeting my soul mate. (Yes, that was several years ago. And yes, I am a serial dater-- go ahead an make all your Taylor Swift jokes now). That quest led me on a journey of self-improvement, reading every possible book there is on soul-mates and dating-- and yes, lots and lots of dates. Some pleasant, and some not - so - pleasant ones that could easily fit into a hysterically bad scene of a rom-com. All jokes aside, despite having failed relationships and not having found "the one" for me, I'm incredibly grateful for what the dating experience has taught me and I wish more people would put themselves out on the line, without the fear or rejection or results (though results are important-- Check out my blog post on "Dating Smarter Not Harder"), in order to also benefit from what the world of dating has to offer. Here are a few of the things I've learned in my years of dating (and hopefully you can benefit from them too): 

1) How to Have Healthy Boundaries. Don't take crap from others. Don't allow them to treat you poorly or accept treatment that is less than what you deserve. Don't settle for the sake of comfort, and keep pursuing your heart's desires. Do not accept poor treatment out of fear of being alone. I know many women (myself included) who have given more of themselves out of a desire to be loved, and end up only being used. This is a lesson I've had to learn for myself, and hopefully you can learn too: It's so important to have healthy boundaries. If something makes you uncomforable, don't do it. If you aren't ready to be committed to someone because you feel things are being rushed, don't do it. If someone is unkind, disrespectful in any way, honor your boundaries and either let them know you are bothered or cut them out of your life! Have your boundaries set in place: Determine what it is you want and how much of yourself you are willing to give, and stick to it. Which brings me to my next point:

2) The Importance of Self Love & Respect. Dating has taught me the importance of having a healthy self love and self respect. When we don't respect or value ourselves, our boundary lines suffer for it. We accept treatment that is less than what we deserve because we lack the self-esteem or self-respect to say enough is enough. When you don't love or value yourself, your decision-making ability is impaired, and you become much more prone to making action you'll later regret. Learn to love yourself by treating your body with respect:  Invest in your health and self-improvement. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, learn something new, have fun, and indulge a little (try your favorite chocolate, buy yourself a book or some flowers, get a pedicure). Love your self right, and you'll begin to attract others who love you right as well (and weed out the ones who don't). 

3) Enhanced Communication Skills & Engagement Abilities. There's a reason why people say men are from Mars and women are from venus, and a lot of it has to do with the way we comminicate. Dating requires that you utilize and enhance those communicating skills.  Having healthy communication skills is an asset that will benefit you in any life circumstance. Being able to accurately depict your thoughts, feelings, and desires through words is a powerful way to get others to resonate with your emotions and feel connected with you. The way you communicate portrays to others the kind of person you are, and helps you get to know what kind of person they are. Communication can deepen or lessen levels of intimacy. In addition, dating helps you learn to engage with others more. Ever heard the saying, "use it or lose it"? Well that applies to the ability to be engaging and charismatic. The more you practice, the better you get. What it really comes down to his having a genuine concern for getting to know the other person. When you actually care what someone else has to say, being engaging is easy. The problem is most of us are so absorbed in our own little world and care more about talking than listening. People love talking about themselves, but if we were to be more concerned with others rather than taking solely about ourselves; our ability to engage would skyrocket.



4) Gained Perspective & Broader Understanding of the World. One of the gifts of dating is being able to pick another person's brain and see a whole new world of perspective. Dating helps you see through another's eyes by getting to know how they see things. While we may not see eye-to-eye on everything with everyone we meet, it's incredibly helpful to learn about others of different backgrounds and beliefs and gain a broader perspective and understanding of the world as a result.

5) How to Accept others. When you gain perspective from other people, one thing you realize is: Not everyone thinks or sees the world the way you do. (What a concept!) As a result, you learn to accept, love, and appreciate other's difference and celebrate diversity. I think the world would be an awfully boring place if we all thought the same way. Dating allows you to see that while we are all different, each of us is a uniquely beautiful expression of creation and design, and it helps you appreciate others as just that.



6) Learn Your Likes & Dislikes. Let's face it: Most of us don't really know what we want until we come across it. On the other hand, there are a handful of us who have a very specific and idealized image of what we'd like our dream partner to be like. Some of us might even have lists of traits of what it is that we want! Well, dating helps us get clear on what we truly desire, and what we're willing to negotiate or compromise on. The more you date the more you may come to realize things you once valued or considered deal breakers, aren't really all that important when it comes to the success, happiness, and longevity of a relationship. On the other hand, you may come to realize things you didn't think were important or of value to you, are actually major deal breakers. I know that for myself I've come to value character, loyalty, morality, good conversation, and an individual as committed to self-improvement as I am, more than someone who only offers good looks and is well-dressed. It's going to take more than just the superficial to make a relationship last in the long-term (Note: I did not say physical attraction isn't important, I just said it's not all there is); and dating can help you determine what's most important to YOU .

As always, I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope it inspired you to go out, have fun, and DATE!
Much love to you all,
Brigitte xx


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Don't Settle! (The Problem With Settling)

In this post, I’m going to talk about settling. First off, I’d like to address: What does it mean to settle?
Settling means accepting significantly less than you want; because you don't think you can get what you want. There is an inherent fear that if you don't take what you're offered, then you'll wind up with nothing at all. This fear, though understandable, is an unnecessary belief and hindrance to the attainment of our heart’s true desires and goals. Choosing to “settle” by being in a relationship with someone who isn't right for you won't fulfill the emotional goals that make you want a relationship in the first place. Being in a relationship where you settle will prevent you from fulfilling those goals with other more appropriate, more compatible individuals.
Settling can also be defined as accepting the “good” rather than holding out for the “great.” Settling for something that is simply “good” is the choice you accept because you are afraid of pursuing, or have given up on pursuing, the greater choice.
So why do we settle?
Characteristics of people who settle are doubtful, impatient, lack commitment, and are fearful. As I briefly mentioned before, I believe one of the reasons people settle is because they lack four things:
1.       Faith
2.       Patience
3.       Commitment to the Attainment of our Desires
4.       Courage


We settle because we either don’t believe what we desire actually exists, or, that it exists, but it isn’t a reasonable desire or attainable for us to have.  We don’t believe the job, person, or life of our dreams is actually a possibility for us, and therefore we settle for less than what our heart truly desires. Another reason we may settle is because, while we may believe what we truly desire exists, we are unable to wait, or unwilling to put in the effort to achieve it. It’s one thing to believe that what we want exists, but it’s another to be willing to put in the patience or work to get it.
That’s where commitment comes in. Many people are only interested in attaining their heart’s desires, but they lack commitment. They may say they want something, but because they aren't committed to it, when the going gets tough, they give up. It takes a commitment and dedication to that goal to see it become a reality. People who are committed to something will do whatever they can in their power to make sure it becomes a reality. People who are interested will just do what's convenient, and come up with excuses when it isn't. Or in the words of Kenneth Blanchard: “There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses - only results.”  In addition to staying committed to attaining our heart’s desires, we must get rid of any fear-driven thoughts and take the courageous action needed to attain our goals and dreams.
So what’s the big deal about settling? Why is it such a problem?
Well, it’s a problem because one of two things will happen when we settle: Either we will realize that what we settled for was not what our heart truly desired, and will feel discontent and disappointed with our choice later down the line. Secondly, the person or situation you settled for may leave you, and your self-esteem will suffer not only for having settled, but for being rejected/ let down by what you settled for. There's a joke where Groucho Marx is talking to a friend about marrying an unattractive mate, because a beautiful one could leave you. His friend then reminds him: "An ugly one could leave you too." 
The antidote? Don’t settle.

Don’t survive off of crumbs when you can have the whole cake. Don’t settle for less when you know
you are worthy of achieving more. In the words of Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found in living a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Know what you want. Know your heart’s desires and pursue them relentlessly. 

6 Reasons Why It's Really Not You, It's Him

I'm sure we've all heard the well-overplayed, obnoxiously cliche break-up line: "It's not you, it's me." As annoying as something like this may be to hear, sometimes when relationships fail it's really not you, it's them. Now before you judge this post as being completely arrogant, prideful, conceited, avoidant of responsibility, and in denial of rejection; hear me out. I'm not coming from the mentality of a pouty, overly-confident girl who thinks: "How could someone break up with ME? They must be crazy/ stupid/ homosexual/ all of the above to drop a piece of ass as hot as this!" That's not where I'm coming from. I'm coming from a place of acceptance and understanding that sometimes when break-ups happen, it really doesn't have much to do with you, and you can stop taking it so personally. 

Our brains are meaning-making machines. For the sake of our survival, our brains are always trying to map out our environment and determine why things happen the way they do. It's something that occurs automatically so that in future situations, our brain can identify when to avoid a painful situation, such as a break-up, from happening again. Thoughts like, "Is there something wrong with me? Did I do something wrong? What happened? Why did this happen?" are all generated to identify and steer clear from future mistakes and disappointments. However, it's important to know that when something like a break-up does happen, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. Sure, maybe you could have done things differently, but being dumped is no reflection on who you are as a person. So cut out all that negative thinking mumbo-jumbo crap about not being worthy enough, lovable, smart, sexy, engaging, or beautiful enough. Sometimes it's really not you, it's them. Here are a few things to take into consideration before jumping the gun and thinking you're not "good enough" or worthy of receiving love:

1. They're Emotionally Unavailable.
They've just gone through a heart-wrenching break up, or maybe they're still mourning the loss of a loved one even though years have passed. They may be emotionally unavailable because something devastating happened-- like they walked in on their ex cheating with their best friend and now, they see all women, or men, as dirty liars and cheaters. They may have gone through something tragic in a relationship that has them still licking their wounds and steering clear from relationships. Even though they may desire love, they still want to play it safe and keep their heart protected from the possibility of ever being hurt again. For someone who is emotionally unavailable, while finding a new partner may be beneficial in helping them let go, it's not wise to deliberately try to change or convince them into wanting to be in a relationship. If they've got issues they've been dealing with, it's not your job to try and fix them. That could lead to a lot of pain and frustration on both ends. 


2. They Feel They are at a Place in Life Where They are Unable to Commit. 
People will sometimes feel the need to be at a certain point in their life before they are ready to commit to a relationship. With the societal expectancy of being the main bread-winner and care-taker, men in particular feel the need to have a certain level of their lives established and accomplished in order for them to want to seek out a partner. It's a possibility that while a man may really like you, there may be a lot he feels he needs to accomplish before he can be with you.


3. They Don't Want to Commit.
They simply don't want to commit. They're young, or not, but either way they're having way too much fun "playing the field," and a relationship is only going to make them feel "tied down." Don't focus your energy on trying to "catch" one of these. If a man wants to commit, he will. If not, he won't. There are plenty of other fish in the sea who are looking for a woman to commit to, don't waste your time on those who won't. 


4. He Doesn't Think He Can Make You Happy.
Men really enjoy being able to make a woman happy. Like, really. It's hardwired into them. If a man thinks he can't make you happy either by failing to provide you with the kind of luxurious life you grew up with, or by fulfilling certain emotional needs, or by being the kind of man you hope and expect him to be, he may cut off the relationship with you. This has nothing to do with you as a person, just his judging on whether or not he will be able to make you happy. It's important that if you're in a relationship to convey that he does make you happy, this will bring reassurance, confidence, and stability to the relationship.


5. You're Just Not His Type.
Again, this has nothing to do with you personally. Some men prefer blondes, and some prefer brunettes. Some men want a trophy wife to dress up in heels and a tight mini dress so that they can parade around town with them, and others prefer a girl who likes adventure, that they can sit on a mountain and watch the stars with. Others want a more studious girl that spends the majority of her time in the library, while there are some who want a girl who spends the majority of her time in a gym. Some men want a combination of them all! The point is that everyone is looking for something different. And as the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Maybe not the best analogy for this post (I'm certainly not referring to any of you as "trash"), but what I'm trying to say is that if there is a man who does not like or value you, don't take it personally, because there is a man out there who will like and value you. 

6. They're Really Gay. Like super gay. I couldn't end this post without a little humor. If someone rejects someone as awesome as I know you (the reader) are, they're probably, most likely, 100% gay. And it's a lot better for him/her to have ended it with you now, than waiting 2.5 kids and a 30 year mortgage later for them to come out of the closet. I know I just saved you a whole lot of self-doubt and heart ache. You're welcome.

Okay, so now is the time where I want to ask you to do a little self-reflection (You didn't think I'd let you get off the hook that easy, did you?) You may want to take a look at yourself and ask yourself why is it that you are attracted to these kind of individuals who are either emotionally unavailable, unable, and/or unprepared to commit to a relationship. There's a school of thought that teaches we're attracted to what is a reflection of ourselves. If you find that you are continuously attracted to the "bad boy," or the emotionally unavailable man, it may be a reflection of the fact you, yourself are emotionally unavailable. It might be helpful to you to go and look through past diaries from when you were younger, or examine past relationships to see what kind of thoughts you had about them. You may discover you've carried with you a flawed way of thinking when it comes to relationships, and have been subconsciously repelling the right men from entering your life. 

The next action step I want you to take is to take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Would I date me?" If the answer is yes, then great! Do nothing, you're perfect. But if the answer is, "Maybe there is a little room for self improvement," then get to work sista! Experiencing rejection is an optimal time to learn not to become bitter, but to become even better than you were before. I always like to ask myself, "Am I the kind of woman my dream man would want to date?" and I work from there. For more tips and advice on becoming the kind of person you can check out this post. 
I think you're an awesome, wonderful, amazing human being; and you deserve the best in love and in life. I hope you found this post inspiring, encouraging, funny, and helpful, and I wish you all an amazing week!

Lots o' love,
Brigitte xx
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