Friday, November 22, 2013

The Truth About Being Loved When You Don't Love Yourself

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"No one is going to love you until you love yourself."

How many times have you seen or heard this phrase or similar phrases? Well for starters, if you Google that sentence, you'll get about 377,000,000 results.  

For a long time, I really adopted this adage as a strongly personal belief. I concluded that I was entirely unlovable until I could learn to feel super good about myself and completely rid myself of all self-doubt, flaws and insecurities (which is impossible if you are a human).   

While there is a profound lesson to be learned in the above phrase, there is also a rather damaging misconception about it.   

So allow me to break it apart and fill it with five truths that I find so much more valid and empowering. I hope they help you see love and yourself in a new light.        

Truth #1: Everyone hates themselves sometimes.

Loving yourself unconditionally is one of the hardest things in the world. If you meet anyone who says loving themselves is easy and effortless at all times, they're lying. While I agree that actively learning to love and be kind to yourself leads to stronger, more loving relationships, I disagree that no one is going to love you if you occasionally have a difficult time loving yourself. We're all hard on ourselves, and we all need to be reminded of our worth whenever that happens.  

Truth #2: Your partner cannot fix you, save you, or complete you.

No one can fill your inner void except you, which is similar to saying, "No one is going to love you until you love yourself." That is the only profound lesson I can find in that statement. Your partner cannot solve all of your problems or fight your battles for you. He or she can only stand beside you as you do those things on your own. That's an important thing to remember. You can always lean on people, but they can't always hold you up.      

Truth #3: Struggling with self-love does not make you unlovable.

I'm going to say that again. Struggling with self-love does not make you unlovable. And that is essentially what is being suggested in the notion that no one will love you until you love yourself. You are an infinitely valuable human being, and you're going to struggle with self-love time and time again. People will still love you when you don't love yourself. In fact, the best people will love you even more during such times---which leads me to the next truth…  

Truth #4: You need love the most when you feel you deserve it the least.

Sometimes I go through bouts of self-hatred where I genuinely feel like I don't deserve love and silently question anyone who gives it to me. It's harder to accept something when you deeply believe that you don't deserve it. But you truly need love the most when you feel this way, and the best people in your life will shower you with it. Once you start treating yourself and others with more compassion, for better or worse, your whole world and your whole heart will open up.   

Truth #5: The right people will love you no matter what.

The right people will love you when you make a mistake. The right people will love you when you feel worthless. The right people will love you when you swear at them or hurt their feelings. The right people will love you when you act like a brat or fly into a mini rage because you have a slow Internet connection. The right people will love you when they see your glaring flaws or watch you take nine steps in the wrong direction.

True love is unconditional. Do not place the expectation of unconditional love on every person you meet or date because not everyone will live up to that expectation. But if you stay open and actively practice self-love, the right people will come into your life. And if you have a day or two where you hate yourself a little, it will be okay with them---because sometimes they will hate themselves a little too.

When someone falls in love with you, they will fall in love with all of you. They will love you at your best and at your worst. And they will love you even when you have a hard time loving yourself.

<3 Madison 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coming Clean (A Short Memoir): My Journey Through OCD and Post-High School Depression

Hello everyone!

The promotional campaign for my first eBook launched a couple of days ago, and I wanted to direct you to the post I wrote about it on Journey of a Soul Searcher (since I do not find it necessary to repeat myself here).

Please click here to learn more about the eBook and where/how you can purchase it.

And click HERE to read a couple of excerpts.

Thank you endlessly!

<3 Madison

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Key to Resolving Almost Any Conflict

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I hear a lot about how resolving conflicts and working through fights is difficult. That may be true in most cases because fighting sucks in general, but I've come to realize in my own conflicts (although they are rare because I'm extremely conflict shy and way too nice) is that the absolute number one key to resolving most conflicts is to put your ego away. That's it. Everyone involved needs to be willing to put their ego away long enough to recognize how they contributed to the conflict. And whether you want to own up to this truth or not, you absolutely contributed to the conflict in one way or another. When you're willing to recognize and acknowledge how, the conflict will simmer down. 

Even if you get into a fight with someone who punches you in the face for no reason, you still contributed to the conflict. Maybe it was by looking at them wrong. Maybe it was by punching them back. Maybe it was by adding fuel to their fire in some way. 

Two people don't just fight for no reason. If one party simply chose not to participate, then there wouldn't be a conflict in the first place. You feel me? But as long as both people are actively participating in the conflict, they're both at fault. They both did something to piss the other person off.     

So with that said, here are 3 tips for putting your ego away when you're involved in a conflict with someone else: 

1. Ask yourself, "How did I contribute to this issue?"

Be honest with yourself about the role you played in the conflict. You obviously did something, or else the other person wouldn't be mad at you. Never think, "I didn't do anything! He or she started this!" It doesn't matter who started it. Both of you are dragging it out, and until you're both willing to own up to the role you played, the issue will not be resolved. Recognize how you contributed, and then own up to it. When you do that, the other person will immediately calm down, own up to how they contributed, and be more willing to finish the discussion in a civilized manner...unless they're just really stubborn and hold grudges too easily.    

2. Keep the focus on yourself and on the problem at hand. 

Never point your finger entirely at the other person, and never pull out a laundry list of complaints that are completely unrelated to the problem at hand. Turn your finger around, and stay focused on the current issue. For example, if you're mad at your husband for leaving his dirty clothes on the floor, don't start yelling at him about how he never offers to unload the dishwasher. And then put your ego away long enough to realize that maybe if you stopped nagging and started being more patient and polite, he would feel more compelled to put his dirty clothes in the hamper and offer to help with the dishes every once in awhile.     

3. Apologize for the role you played in the conflict. 

Last but certainly not least, be willing to apologize. I think the saying, "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is a bucket of bull. Love means always having to say you're sorry. Even if it's simply for upsetting the other person. Even if you don't entirely understand why they're upset in the first place. Own up to the role you played in the conflict and then apologize for it. Nothing will put a fire out quicker. Trust me.

<3 Madison  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thoughts on Being/Caring for an Introvert

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I know there are like 500 billion articles about introversion and the care and keeping of your introvert out there, but I've always really loved and connected with them. I'm obviously a huge introvert myself, so lists like the one above make me feel understood.

So today, I want to share my own thoughts on introversion and how I personally prefer to be treated as a result of mine. Whether you're an introvert yourself or know and love someone who is, maybe the following thoughts will help you understand yourself and/or someone else a little better. 

1. I need uninterrupted solitude on a daily basis. 

Solitude is my best friend. I'm alone for a substantial amount of time almost every single day, and it is wonderful. Some people don't understand how or why I do it. "How do you DO it? How do you stay home alone every day? Don't you get lonely? Don't you get bored?!" Nope. I love it, I need it, and I couldn't imagine it any other way. I also work from home, which is fantastic.    

2. I hate a majority of social gatherings.

I've been to enjoyable and fulfilling social gatherings before, but I generally try to avoid them. Especially if I don't know too many of the people who are going to be there. Whenever I get invited to a gathering (which is rare), I like to know what to expect from it. Who will be there? What will we be doing? When will I get to go back home? That sort of thing.. 

3. I'm a deep thinker.

I think more than I talk or do, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It can be a bad thing because sometimes I fail to take action and overthink things, but it's a good thing because I'm very perceptive and introspective. I notice things. I pay attention to things. I make an effort to understand things. I spend a lot of time in my head. If I have a stupid or complex look on my face, I'm not mentally challenged or plotting your death in my head. I'm just thinking about stuff.  

4. If I don't have anything to say to you, it's probably because you're not really all that interesting to me. Or because I haven't warmed up to you yet.

In addition to being introverted, I'm also pretty timid. So it takes me awhile to warm up to people unless you're one of those rare, wonderful people who are super easy to warm up to almost immediately. (I've met a few in my lifetime.) But if I have had an adequate amount of time to warm up to you and I still don't have much to say when you're around, I probably just don't relate to you or connect with you. It's nothing personal. We just don't click...And I "click" with very few people.    

5. If you interrupt me, I will not finish what I was saying...At least not willingly. 

I hate being interrupted, especially when I feel like I've actually got something really useful or witty to say. Being interrupted totally kills my mood/spirit/self-esteem, so don't bother expecting me to finish what I was saying if you cut me off. Even if you say, "Sorry, what were you saying?" I will either forget what I was going to say because I have the attention span of a goldfish, or I will finish what I was saying reluctantly and with a grumpy attitude. 

6. I want to know about things in advance, i.e. unexpected visits, changes in my day, changes in my life, etc. 

I don't like surprises. I like to know about and be able to prepare for things in advance. If someone is stopping by, I want to have time to brush my hair and mentally prepare myself for their arrival/presence. If a kink is being thrown in my usual routine, I want to have time to efficiently plan my way around it. And so on and so forth... 

7. I don't like being the center of attention.

I really don't like being the center of attention, whether it's during a family dinner or a major event of some sort. When I graduated from high school, I almost literally ran across the stage like a gazelle to receive my diploma because I was so uncomfortable with everybody looking at me. And if I ever get married, I will probably be the most awkward bride on the face of the planet. Attention makes me want to barf.

8. I hate small talk.

"What have you been up to?" Nothing much. "What do you do?" I do lots of things. "So, tell me about yourself." I'm not interesting. "Do you have any hobbies?" Oh my goodness...Please go away.  

9. I generally try to avoid talking on the phone. 

There are only about 3-4 people that I feel comfortable talking to on the phone...And I rarely even talk to them on the phone. I definitely prefer email and texting because it gives me time and space to properly gather my thoughts before I put them out in the open. It's so bad that I even avoid job ads that require phone interviews unless I really, really want the job. Nine times out of ten, talking to me on the phone is like talking to a brick wall...a brick wall that says "like" and "um" a lot. It will be a profound waste of your time. Trust me.

10. I'm not anti-social...I'm selectively social. 

Yes, I stole that from some e-card I saw on Pinterest. Perhaps you've seen it. I can't tell you how many times people have said things like, "You NEVER talk." No, darling. I just don't talk to YOU. And probably with good reason. *burn* But seriously though...I can count the people I truly connect with on one hand. If I don't connect with you, we won't have very much to talk about. It's just the way I'm wired. 

Cheers to being an introvert! 

<3 Madison     


Friday, October 4, 2013

Embracing Humanity and Releasing Perfection in Relationships

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One of my biggest pet peeves is the frequently pushed notion that we have to achieve a certain level of perfection in dating and relationships in order to be liked, accepted and loved. 

Have you ever watched a movie, read an article, or otherwise heard a nugget of relationship "wisdom" from someone else that made you question your own relationship or dating life? Because here's the thing---if you're happy and your relationship or dating life is chugging along exceptionally well, there's no need to question it because of what someone else says. No relationship is perfect, and we certainly don't have to paint a picture of perfect in our own lives to attract people who will love us. 

I prefer advice that is real, relevant and encouraging---advice that acknowledges the humanity and vulnerability that lies within us all...Not advice that tells you how to wear your hair on a first date or that being super successful and confident is the only way to attract true love.  

Real love consists of two flawed, imperfect people loving each other despite their flaws and imperfections. So today, I am handing the torch over to five writers who have inspired and re-inspired that truth.

Take a look at the following articles if you want some real relationship advice:

Written by Keltie Knight

Long-term relationships can be hard, confusing, and just plain scary. This blog post acknowledges those feelings from a place of uncertainty and vulnerability. The images and quotes contained within the attached gallery further solidify the chaotic nature of love and can help anyone going through a confusing, scary or painful phase in their relationship feel less alone. And just to throw in a handful of optimism, Keltie's relationship worked out after all...She recently got married. :-)  

Written by Lisa Esile

I have read and shared this article so many times. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it on the Internet before. There are so many articles out there about the importance of loving yourself, being confident, being happy, etc. "A happy wife equals a happy life," they say. But no one ever seems to talk about the human tendency to just really hate yourself and be depressed sometimes.

It's all about perception, understanding, and how we treat ourselves and others when depression or self-hatred decides to stop by for a visit. If you ever feel like there is something tragically wrong with you or that your happy, healthy relationship is doomed when you have an off day, the above article is a must-read. Like the quote at the top of the article says, "Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."   

Written by Sheryl Paul

I want to high-five the author of this incredibly refreshing article. She debunks several of the most commonly tossed around beliefs that lead people to end relationships with perfectly good partners. If conventional relationship wisdom is grating on your nerves or causing you to question your own relationship when you have no logical reason to, the above article is definitely for you.       

Written by Bethany Grow

In this honest and relevant blog post, the author discusses the difficulty of accepting unconditional love from your partner when you feel like you don't deserve it. It's a very common feeling, yet so few people openly talk or write about it.

When you're in a relationship with a wonderful person who is everything you want and more, it's easy to fall into a mindset of not feeling good enough for them and wanting to be the "person of their dreams." But what we sometimes fail to realize is that "the perfect man" or "the perfect woman" is a fantasy. There's no such thing as perfect. And the author goes from talking about her insecurities in this area to talking about acceptance of herself, flaws and all.

I think the ultimate message of the post is to love yourself the way your loved ones love you and to actually believe them when they tell you how great you are.       

Written by Therese Schwenkler

This post is one of the greatest things on the entire Internet. It's so refreshing to know that I'm not the only human on the face of the planet who thinks most mainstream dating and relationship advice is terrible. Attracting dudes is NOT the sole purpose of a woman's existence. And it's not like half the advice for young women out there will lead to true love anyway. But enough from me. Read the above article, and see the epicness for yourself.

Do you have any other great relationship articles to share?

<3 Madison  

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'm Back!

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Hello everyone.

I'm sorry if I was missed during my random hiatus, and I'm even more sorry if you never got the memo as to why I disappeared. (I tried to get the word out!) But I'm back now and want to explain and inform you of a few things.  

1. If you're wondering why I randomly deleted the blog, it's because this article brought my attention to the fact that I wasn't being very wise about my photo use. I honestly thought it was okay to use whatever photos I fancied as long as I cited the original source and didn't make any money off the photos. Nope. Apparently, you still put yourself at risk for getting sued.

So I went back and forth in my head about what to do before deciding that it would be best to delete my blog until I made an informed decision about future photo use. I now use this nifty little resource to find my photos.

2. I'm not going to lie to you...I hated deleting this blog. I hate that I spent nearly four hours relaunching it and finding all new photos yesterday. I hate how much harder it is to find photos I can actually use. I hate that I can't take random drool-worthy photos off Google and Pinterest and compile them into photo heavy, visually appealing blog posts anymore. And I'm probably going to piss and moan and be a little bit of a grumpy whiner about it for a little while. But I wanted to do the right thing. When you know you're doing something wrong, you should stop doing it.

3. If you'll notice, some of my old posts are missing. And every single one of my home and organization posts are missing because (almost) every single one of them contained lots of photos that I either couldn't replace or didn't feel like replacing. In my opinion, home and organization posts just aren't very entertaining or informative without pictures. It would be very difficult and kind of boring to write a post about how to make the inside of your closet look rad if you don't show pictures of rad closets. Or to write a post about your obsession with cottage-style and not show pictures of cottage-style home designs.

So although I still want to write about home and organization, I probably won't write about it as often as I used to...Because safe-to-use photos are limited in that area. In fact, I can no longer publish photo heavy posts at all unless I find the pictures I'm looking for or get express permission to use them. I'm sorry if my photo heavy posts were your favorite. I liked them too...

4. I will no longer blog twice a week, every week. The fact that there are now gaps in my "every Wednesday and Friday" blogging schedule makes my OCD mind want to blog as sporadically as my previous posts appear. I will still post on Wednesdays and Fridays...It just won't be EVERY Wednesday and Friday. I don't have time to spend two hours looking for relevant photos twice a week. But I will still blog as often as I can and as often as inspiration hits.

5. I hope you'll keep reading this little blog of mine. Because I really want to keep writing it despite these changes.

<3 Madison              

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Chat About Self-Love with Lori Deschene

I am a huge fan of Lori and Tiny Buddha, as most of you may know. So I was beyond excited when I got an email asking if it would be okay if she featured one of my Tiny Buddha posts in her upcoming book, Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself. It was a no-brainer.  

The excitement continued when she asked if I would be interested in posting a Q&A with her on this little blog of mine. It was another no-brainer. I've always wanted to interview Lori, but never had a relevant theme or topic in mind. Now I have one! 

So I sent Lori some questions about self-love, and she got back to me with these wonderfully insightful responses. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspired me.

1. What initially inspired you to write Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself

It's something I've planned to do for awhile---start a series of "Tiny Buddha's Guide to" books, drawing from the many inspiring stories on the site.

Self-love seemed like the perfect topic to start with, since this is the core of all personal growth and the foundation for loving others and loving life.

It's also the foundation of my greatest struggles.

For a long time, I thought my life was a mess because of my depression, or my former eating disorder, or my lack of purpose, or my lack of money, but at the heart of all those troubles was my unwavering self-loathing.

2. We all struggle with loving ourselves sometimes, and no one ever truly arrives at a place of complete self-acceptance. It's human nature to be hard on ourselves. How do you deal when loving yourself is hard?

Reminding myself of this truth is the first thing I do. Sometimes I get hard on myself for getting hard on myself, which is incredibly ironic when you think about it.

It's piling judgment on top of pain---emotions on top of emotions---and it's a surefire way to get stuck.

Beyond that, it varies. Sometimes I'm proud of how I deal. I get outside and out of my head and take good care of my mind and body. Other times, I shut down and guard myself until I feel better. I'm a work in progress!

3. Do you ever struggle with looking for truth in the less than flattering things people say or think about you? If so, how do you move past that?

Absolutely. For a long time, I interpreted every criticism or judgment as proof that I was a fundamentally bad person. I literally feared other people's perceptions of me because I saw each one as a mirror.

I became a chameleon, trying to be whatever I thought people would accept. And later, I adopted the "indisputably good person" persona, thinking no one could possibly judge me if I tried really hard to be a short, blond Dalai Lama.

I feel I've made tremendous progress here because I now realize that being disliked by some is a sign that I am being real---and creating the possibility of being liked by others who actually appreciate me for who I am.

To read my full interview with Lori, click here!

<3 Madison