Building a healthy relationship with yourself and with others

Change the narrative!

I want to share a message from a sermon I heard. The sermon talked about when the Lord told Moses to drop his rod on the ground and it became a snake and Moses ran from it. This made me ask myself, what am I running from.  What are you running from?  It’s time to stop running and face what you have to face – are you running from love, are you running from responsibility, are you running from life, what are you running from? You will never be who you were meant to be if you keep running from things that scare you. You just might be running from something God gave you.

During the sermon, the pastor asked an interesting question. Do we sometimes impose on other people what’s really coming from us? Your “they” might be you in disguise. How often do you say, “They didn’t…” “They won’t let me…” They aren’t…” What you believe about “they” is really a reflection of you believe about yourself.  Do you have a limited perception?

(Quoting words from the sermon) God wants to show you the potential of what’s in your hand.  Moses had to learn this in private so that it wouldn’t mess him up in public.  Moses had to use that same rod to part the red sea, but if he didn’t have confidence in private, he would not have had confidence in public.  The same is true about you. You have more than you think you do.  You can do more than you think you can do.  You can have more than you think you can have. The problem is not coming from what “they” believe. It’s coming from what you believe.

Moses threw down his rod, and it became a snake. The Lord told him to grab it by the tail, and when he grabbed it by the tail, it became a rod again.  He caught it as a snake, and it became a rod again. Sometimes you will not see until you grab it.  The problem is that most of you (myself included) want to see your way clear before you pick it up, but God wants you to pick it up when you are scared, nervous, or intimidated.

You may find yourself saying to God, “I was scared enough to run from it, now you are asking me to pick it up? If I thought I could handle it, I never would have run from it.” Maybe God is trying to show you that if you step over your fear & grab it by faith, it will change in your hand. Your snake may be whatever you have been running from.  God will often bless you the greatest through that thing you are afraid of.  You cannot overcome what you will not confront.

Moses’ strength was made perfect in his weakness.  God challenged what Moses believed.  What do you believe about yourself? You may say the right things – imitate the right thing, but in private, you live out your belief.  For example, do you believe you are a failure? Do you believe you are too old to accomplish something? Do you believe you will always be alone? The things you believe become your vision statement.  You live out the words you rehearse to yourself.  You try to convince everybody else that you are something that you don’t believe.  You must change your belief. You will never completely be healed or whole until you change the voice inside of your own head.  Nobody can do it for you. You must do it for you.  When you are trying to drive out stinky thinking, you have to say it over and over.  Talk to your issue. Change your story. The greatest enemy to belief is the lies you tell yourself.  Change the narrative in your head!

Romantic relationships offer some of life’s greatest joys. They can also cause great pain. As we open ourselves up to another person, we leave ourselves vulnerable to rejection and abandonment, thus fueling some of our deepest insecurities. David Burrus’s quote is talking about a guy who leaves a relationship because he knew the woman would make a perfect wife, but what the real takeaway is this, (1) many of us (notice I said “us”) are guilty of self-sabotage and (2) many of us aren’t honest and upfront about not being ready for a certain situation, thus leaving the other person confused and heartbroken.

Do you have a pattern of being attracted to an emotionally unavailable partner who is emotionally protected and difficult to get close with? Or do you have history of pushing away the sort of person who is available, caring, and easy to get close with? Some people are guilty of one of these, and some are guilty of both. There are various reasons why people have a pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable people or have a habit of pushing away a good person. Some of those reasons are: (1) They fear if they get to close, they will lose themselves, their individuality, and/or freedom; (2) Intimacy means revealing their true self and they are afraid to do so; (3) they are guilty of distant intimacy; or (4) they are guilty of constant intimacy.

I want to elaborate a little more on distant and constant intimacy. Distant intimacy means shielding yourself from being rejected, abused, or controlled in a relationship. Being emotionally aloof allows you to feel less vulnerable. As a result, you don’t allow yourself to personally invest in a relationships – this is your “safety zone”. But it doesn’t allow you to feel the connection and closeness that you long for. Intimacy from a distance is not satisfying because there is less emotion, less passion, and less connection. And the sad truth is, nothing risked, nothing gained.

On the other side of distant intimacy is constant intimacy – The “needy” person who desperately wants love, but never feels good enough to allow someone to truly love them. Any distance in the relationship causes thoughts of being cheated on or abandoned. So, the anxious partner fills this space with text messages, phone calls, and everything they can to get the reassurance they need. Ironically, the partner who feels unworthy of love will often fall in love with someone who is unwilling to return it. As a result, they enter into a toxic relationship that only reinforces each other’s deepest scars. The distant intimacy partner pushes away the constant intimacy partner, who then tries harder to earn love. The distant intimacy partner will then push them away even harder, putting the relationship into a spiral of confusion, hurt, and painful disconnection.

Here are ways you can stop self-sabotaging your relationship(s):

  • Understand your attachment Are you needy/clingy? Are you distant?
  • Identify your triggers. Are there certain things that trigger self-sabotaging behaviors?
  • Decipher the past from the present. Sometimes you have self-sabotage behaviors because you are allowing the past to impact the present.
  • Be mindful of your behavior. ALL of us have issues we need to work on. It’s important to know what yours are – once you know, you can begin to work on them.
  • Learn to communicate. I cannot say this enough. COMMUNICATION is important in all relationships (romantic or not). It’s the lack of communication that often times lead to issues/problems.
  • Realize you are not the center of your partner’s world. The truth is, they are their own person and they are having their own life experience. No matter how much they love you, you are not their whole life.
  • Know that it’s your own expectations, not other people’s expectations, that cause your disappointment. Some of your expectations are not realistic, and in some cases, it isn’t your partner’s job to meet them.
  • Be honest with yourself. Sometimes it’s the lies you tell yourself that hurt you.

Emotions are tied to everything we do. They are the major source of motivation, and a big factor in our ability to think clearly. Emotions are the most present, pressing and sometimes painful force in our lives.  When we act on our emotions too quickly, or when we act on the wrong kinds of emotions, we often make decisions that we later regret. Trust me, I know.  LOL

Negative emotions, like anger, hurt, or bitterness, tend to spiral out of control, especially immediately after they’ve been triggered. In time, these sorts of emotions can grow like weeds, slowly conditioning the mind to function on detrimental feelings and dominate our daily life. One way to prevent our emotional mind from taking over is to avoid “demand thinking.  Demand thinking is when we use words like “should,” “shouldn’t,” or “have to,” and “must.” This type of thinking sets us up to view situations as out of control, unfair, and harmful if things don’t go as planned.

When something “should” be certain way and isn’t, we begin to catastrophize and see things as terrible, horrible, and unbearable. One major problem with demand thinking is that it creates a great deal of unnecessary stress. Your emotions will naturally hijack your thinking, but there are still ways you can get a better handle on your emotions.

Here are seven steps to develop greater emotional awareness and help you effectively manage your feelings.

  • Don’t react right away. Reacting immediately to emotional triggers can be a big mistake. You’ll more likely say or do something you’ll later regret. Before refuting the trigger with your emotional argument, take a deep breath and stabilize the overwhelming impulse.
  • Be Conscious of Your Thoughts. Thoughts are habitual and it can be quite difficult at first to consciously be aware of every thought that passes through your head. Before you change them for the better, you must be aware of exactly what you are thinking.
  • Discover the ‘why’ of your emotions. Once you are aware of your thoughts, ask yourself what is causing this feeling inside you?
  • Change the way you think about a situation. Once you know the root of the problem, you can change the way you think about it. Your thoughts and beliefs shape your feelings. So, consider your thoughts. Are they based on truth? Are they logical? Are your beliefs true?
  • Choose how you want to react. This is the hardest part. The way that we react and manage our emotions is habit. Do you control your emotions, or do they really control and direct you? Once you are able to control your emotions, you will feel more in control of your life.
  • Modify your expectations. Take a look at your expectations. If they are not realistic, you are bound to be disappointed or stressed.
  • Avoid negative thinking. When you are in emotional turmoil, it’s easy to get caught in a negative thought pattern. You tend to replay the situation and experience the feelings again. Break out of negative thinking.

Dating a busy partner

Earlier today, I was having a conversation with a friend about the challenges of dating someone who is very busy – not busy in the sense of he/she chooses to not have time for you, so they say they are busy, but busy as it relates to the nature of the work they do and their lifestyle. I’m a busy person and I, ironically, tend to date guys who are very busy (it’s not intentional – just seems to happen). Although my schedule can be hectic at times, I do make sure I add balance to the equation (women tend to be better at this than men. Sorry fellas J). Plus, for me, it’s very important to make sure the person I am dating doesn’t feel neglected. Nourishing the relationship is essential to the survivability of the relationship.

So if you are like me and you tend to date busy people, I want to offer you a few suggestions. Wait, before my suggestions, let me say this. We all feel like if someone wants to be with you, he/she will always make time for you; however, sometimes you are at a stage they haven’t reached yet. What do I mean by that? Everyone moves at his/her own pace. Just because you have arrived at a place where you’ve made them a priority in your life, it doesn’t mean they have arrived at that place yet. Keep in mind – no one’s life started the day you met them. If the relationship is new, you two may both genuinely like one another, but you may not be on the same page (yet) when it comes to giving a certain level of effort. Until you walk in that person’s shoes, you don’t have an understanding of his/her schedule. Sometimes they barely have time for themselves, and integrating you into their schedule is a process, and definitely requires understanding and patience.

So here are some tips if you are dating a busy man/woman:

  • Show support. Whether he/she’s working a 9 to 5 or pursuing his/her entrepreneurial endeavors. The one thing he/she wants is support. It’s important that you let your partner know that you support him/her.
  • Listen to his/her needs. His/her career may take a lot of time, or perhaps it’s family or other activities that require his/her attention. I am in NO way saying everything should come before you. Honestly, I would not do well at all with everything coming before me. If I am low on your priority list, you aren’t the person I’m supposed to be with. But what I am saying is that you can’t expect a person to give up his/her life/individuality. Hopefully, eventually, they will make an effort to share that with you.
  • Be flexible. Although you can’t be at his/her “beck and call” all the time, you can accept a spontaneous invitation to lunch or a late dinner when he/she is available as long as you don’t simply become a “booty-call.” And yes, ladies make booty-calls too.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Encourage him/her to touch base with you when he/she’s busy by sending him/her a very short “thinking of you” text when he/she is away. By doing this, you stay on his/her mind and make him/her smile without creating drama.
  • Be honest with your needs. Dating a busy person doesn’t work for everyone, so be honest with yourself and with him/her about how much attention you need. Let him/her know you appreciate the little calls and thoughtful things he/she does. If it’s clear that he/she doesn’t want to make time for you, then it’s time to end the relationship.
  • Detach from control. The only thing you can control in life are the choices you make. We can’t always control the outcome, but we can certainly control our own choices. If you’ve ever found yourself being mildly controlling, learn to let go so you can grow. Asking where he/she is, who he/she’s with, what time he/she’ll be back, etc. are all clear signs of a super needy and mildly controlling person. Remember: being in a relationship is about sharing a life, not making the other person your entire life.
  • Find common ground. There should always be a designated time for the two of you to come back and share what’s been going on in each other’s lives. This is key to having a successful relationship. For example, find a day that the two of you have off and focus on spending that time with each other. Go to the movies, hang out at the park, walk the dog, grab dinner, grab a couples’ massage together, etc. Creating a ritual that only the two of you do will solidify your bond and you’ll cherish the moment you do spend together even more.

Mind, you, I know this isn’t easy. I haven’t mastered all of the suggestions I gave. We all want to feel special, and nothing shows special more than a person’s actions. But if you just happen to be one of those people with a busy partner, he/she is not going to always be readily available as someone who works an 8-hour day and doesn’t have much else going on. You have to decide what’s best for you. If you require more, a busy mate might not be a good fit for you. Oh, and please understand the difference between a person who is truly busy and a person who is just too busy for you. If he/she is just too busy for you, but makes time for other things and other people, sorry to tell you, but that’s not the person for you.

Every morning before I say my morning prayers. I have three things I say out loud. One of those things is, “Entrust Me with More.” Saying this is my way of saying, “Lord, I know if you bring MORE to me, You have already equipped me to receive it.” In my latest book, Live Now, Die Later, I emphasize the importance of living life now. So many people are breathing, but they are dead. “Death” is caused by fears, holding on to past mistakes,  living your life based on other people’s expectations, believing you are under a generational curse, etc.

Allow me to say this about generational curses. I know the Bible mentions “generational curses” in several places. God warns that He is “a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”, but Ezekiel 18 assures us God doesn’t punish children for their parents’ sins. God clearly says, “I will judge you, each one according to his ways” When I think about Generational Curses, I think of something I read that said, “When a father has a sinful lifestyle, his children are likely to practice the same sinful lifestyle.” It’s the PRACTICE that represents the generational curse. Okay, now back to subject at hand 😊

Do you feel…no, do you BELIEVE God is leading you to something, but you have convinced yourself that you don’t have what it takes to succeed in what God is leading you to? Do you trust Him? Do you trust yourself? Have your fears become bigger than your faith?

As a GenXer, I am often amazed by the things I see Millennials doing. I sometimes ask the question, “What is it in them that makes them feel fearless, like they can accomplish anything?” Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1997. Forbes magazine stated, “Where baby boomers are loyal to their company and Generation X are more loyal to their careers, millennials’ loyalty lies with their community. They see work as a calling instead of a job, or even a career. Although subtle, this distinction does change the expectations they have of their jobs. Millennials show up looking to make an impact, be part of a team and do meaningful work — work that makes a difference in the world.” Yes, Forbes was referring to difference when it comes to work, but one thing stood out to me, Millennials’ loyalty lies with their community. They see work as a calling.

If you look up the definition for calling it says, “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.” A strong inner impulse toward a particular course…accompanied by conviction of divine influence.  Divine Influence.  Divine, by some definitions, mean, “of God”.

Your calling will always find you. It may whisper in your ear. It may send random strangers to plant a seed. It may be that thing you find yourself constantly gravitating to, but for whatever reason, you won’t follow it. But please keep this in mind, If God is directing you to it, He has already prepared you for it.

Link to hard copy of Live Now, Die Later

Link to Kindle version of Live Now, Die Later

Dating vs Relationship

If more than one person asks me a question, I think it’s time to address it. A lot of people are confused about the difference between dating and a relationship. So, instead of giving my own definition, I decided to do some research. This may be a little long, but I want to do my part sharing the differences. The information shared from this point is a compilation of various research.

Dating itself can be incredibly confusing, much less, defining what your relationship status is. The difference between dating and being in a relationship can be subtle. It is important to discuss relationship boundaries with the person you are dating and be clear in your communications with them.

The difference between dating and being in a relationship is commitment. If you are going out with someone on a regular basis, and you and your partner have agreed to date only one another, then you are in a committed relationship. However, if you are dating a person and neither of you have agreed to date exclusively, then you are not in a relationship and you are both free to also date other people.  The main difference between dating and being in a relationship is that people in a relationship are connected by a mutual commitment to each other. You and the person you’re with have agreed, either officially or unofficially, that you’re seeing each other exclusively and are in a partnership together.

There are different stages to dating.

Casual Dating

What is it: Casual dating is the first stage of any relationship.  It is characterized by people just dating for fun without any expectation of commitment or exclusivity.  It’s a “getting to know you” phase where we’re not likely to invest much in the relationship or worry about how we feel about the relationship as a whole.

Stresses: Because of the lack of commitment, we’re also more likely to worry about what our dating partner is thinking.  Whether our thoughts are “what does she think of me?” or “where does he see this going?” we are uncertain about the future of the relationship. We may find it easy to be open about some things during casual dating, but because we haven’t developed a relationship of trust, we may also hold back and keep select information from our date.

Why Do It: While casual dating is not very secure, it is a great way to meet new people and explore our options. This type of dating helps us understand ourselves and our likes/dislikes when it comes to relationships.   But once we find someone we really connect with, we might quickly find ourselves in the next stage:

Exclusive Dating

What is it: Exclusive dating is when two people begin dating with the expectation that partners will not date others.  This is more serious and sends the message that “I like you more than other people I’ve dated and feel like we have a special connection.  I’m interested to see where this relationship can go.”

Stresses: We often begin exclusive dating relationships because we feel that we’re not likely to find someone we want to be with more than our new partner.   We may still keep our eyes open to other potential partners, but we will likely find it more difficult to find someone we feel is a better fit for us. Therefore, commitment becomes an important part of the relationship. Because we’re interested in building a relationship, we begin to invest in the relationship more, including opening up a little more and sharing more about ourselves.  However, we’re still uncertain about the future of the relationship, so we may still feel nervousness around our partner and worry about what they’re thinking and where they want the relationship to go.

Why Do It: Exclusive dating helps us feel loved and wanted by another person.  Such dating also gives us an important support system for other stresses in our lives.  Once we do build a satisfying relationship of trust with our partner, and connect at a deeper level, then we’re likely to enter the final stage of dating:

Serious Dating

What is it: Once we begin a serious relationship, we’re sending the message that we’re happy with our relationship and want this one to last.  We begin to think more long-term about the relationship and consider our options for the future.  When we’re in serious relationships, we may find other people attractive, but we are not likely to think about others in terms of potential relationship partners.  Since we’re happy with our current choice, we then begin to invest even more in the relationship.  If we feel satisfied in our serious dating relationship, then we begin to discuss the future and make plans for making our relationship more permanent.

Stresses: When we feel a greater sense of commitment in our relationship, we are less worried about our partner wanting to leave, so we feel safer sharing more with them.  At this stage, we may share some of our deepest feelings and fears.  We feel more comfortable around our partner, so we might start to let loose and show some of our quirks more.  However, with that disclosure comes a stronger fear of rejection and what the loss of the relationship would mean.  We may fear a break-up and the emotional turmoil it would cause.  Our lives may also be intertwined with our partners, making the prospect of leaving very anxiety provoking.

Why Do It:  Social science research has long documented the benefits of serious and long-term dating.  Those that stay in such relationships are often healthier and happier than people who only casually date or remain single.

(Now back to my input) If there’s one main point I want you to take away from this, it’s this, Dating lacks element of commitment. This is where the lines get crossed for some people – they assume that because you two are dating that there’s a certain level of exclusivity you two should have. If you both want exclusivity, then you should decide if you are ready tto be in a committed relationship. But please keep in mind that dating is an essential part of a relationship.  You don’t just jump from hello to commitment – there are stages/phases.

Enjoy the dating period. It gives both of you the opportunity to see if you really want to be in a committed relationship with one another, while at the same time, giving you the opportunity to “explore” other people.  Sometimes what we think we want isn’t really what we want or need – dating allows you to find that out.

Who Are You?

We’ve all heard the expression, “Know Thyself”. Over the weekend, I was interviewed and the first question I was asked was, “Who is Nicole L. Turner?” Even for a person like me who is high on the self-awareness scale, I struggle with that question.  Many people will answer that question by saying, “Nicole L. Turner is a Detox Strategist, author, consultant, etc.” That describes what I do – not who I am.  Who I am is what leads me to do those things.

Do you know who you are? If someone asked you that question, what would you answer be? If you could peel back the layers, what would the seeds of your soul, your core look like? Do you see yourself differently from the way other people see you? Are you in a trap of self-delusion or self-deception?

I read somewhere that, “Much of our behavior is driven by unconscious processes. It’s been estimated that every second, our five senses take in eleven million pieces of information. We know this because scientists have counted the number of receptor cells on each sense organ and the nerves that go from these cells to the brain. However, we can only consciously process about forty bits of information a second. So large parts of our experience are unavoidably unknowable to us as far as conscious awareness is concerned.” After reading that, you may say, well if large parts of our experiences are unavoidably unknown to us consciously, can I really know myself? We may not need to be conscious of every behavior, but it is important to know what influences the behavior.

To help you better understand who you are, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?
  1. Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
  1. What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
  2. What is your highest core value?
  3. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  4. What do you believe is possible for you?
  5. What do you fear most in life? What do you think drives that fear?
  6. What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
  7. What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
  8. How does your being here change humanity for the better?

Yes, I know some of these questions require you to really think, but their purpose is to make you look deeper into yourself and answer the question, “WHO AM I?”