Posted by: silverliningsblog | May 5, 2021

Embracing solitude

I have had a love-hate relationship with solitude for most of my life.

When I was a child, we lived in (very) rural New Brunswick, down a long laneway in a small red bungalow surrounded by maple and birch trees. I loved the privacy of where we lived, the freedom to run around in the wind catching leaves with no one watching, the ability to sing in the blueberry patch with no one listening.

I also, at times, felt excruciatingly lonely. I wrote a song about loneliness when I was only 9, feeling like an outcast with family members, living too far away from friends to easily access them. My stuffed animals kept me company, but even they weren’t enough at times to compensate for feeling so alone.

Since my youth, I’ve been alone more than I anticipated. I was widowed at 22 and then moved to Ottawa, where I knew only a few people, so spent most of those first years on my own. I eventually remarried, but we divorced when I was 35, and so I’ve lived alone for most of the past decade, with my kids for company half of the time (and now a small Morkie named Bailey).

Suffice it to say, life didn’t quite go as planned and I’ve experienced more solitude than I had imagined.

But here’s the thing…it also wasn’t all bad. There have been some tremendous gifts in spending so much time alone, and I’ve learned (for the most part) to embrace solitude.

Are there aspects I still don’t like? Sure, especially during a pandemic! Being single during lock-down sometimes feels very isolating. I miss hugs and interaction with friends, snuggles and long, deep conversations with a partner, and fun public gatherings.

But mostly, being alone has been positive, even transformative for me.

The benefits of being alone

Here are some of the many benefits I’ve experienced from spending time alone that you may want to consider if you find yourself in similar circumstances:

1. Hearing yourself ― When we’re with others a lot, we sometimes don’t notice now noisy it gets. We can barely hear our own thoughts anymore, much less differentiate our own judgment from societal pressures to conform. When you get away from the chatter and ceaseless opinions, you can really tune into your own thoughts – what do you really think and believe? And how do you feel? Can you allow yourself the space to experience your own emotions and body’s signals without judging them? Can you be compassionate towards yourself when you’re hurting or lonely or afraid? Can you respond kindly to your emotions, and give yourself the comfort and nurturing you need?

2. Re-discovering yourself ― Solitude gives you the ability to deeply connect with yourself, and rediscover what you enjoy and what matters to you. When you’re alone, you don’t need validation from others…the only person who needs to approve of your decisions is you. So, you can use this quiet time to explore who you really are and what you really want for yourself. You can embrace your creativity, try new things, and take on a DIY project. What seems fun to you? What makes you feel joyful and alive?

3. Re-prioritizing your life ― Slowing down the pace of life creates space to breathe and consider whether things are the way you want them to be or not. If not, you can re-prioritize, and determine what needs to change. Who would you like to reconnect with? What new goal do you want to achieve, or skill do you want to learn? Is there a habit that isn’t serving you that needs to be changed? It’s like hitting the reset button, allowing you to start over with a clean slate, creating the life you want from scratch.

4. Re-connecting with source ― Solitude gives us a tremendous gift….the opportunity to explore and embrace quiet and stillness. To realize that underneath the business of life is a peaceful, serene space where you can simply be. One of the main reasons we resist being alone is we see it as a “nothing” place, and yet it’s in this void that we can reconnect with our true divine essence, our higher spirit. By connecting with source energy regularly, we begin to experience a state of flow and transcendence that is hard to experience surrounded by people and noise and constant doingness. It gives us a chance to truly rest and recharge, instead of draining our energy with constant movement.

5. Appreciating the little things ― One of the true gifts of this pandemic is that we are starting to notice and appreciate things on a whole new level. Like the beauty and magic in trees blossoming and flowers blooming and birds returning to sing their lovely tunes in spring. Like the joy in human connection. Like the comfort of a dog’s affection. Like the sheer ecstasy of live music or travelling to explore new places. These are things we often took for granted before, but spending some quiet time alone changes our level of gratitude for life’s pleasures and anticipation of them returning.

Making the most of your time alone

Here’s the thing about solitude…it doesn’t last forever. This too shall pass. There will come a time again when you’re surrounded by people (and perhaps even feeling suffocated by it).

So for now, try reframing your time alone. Instead of seeing it as “lonely” time, think of it as “me time” or “reflection” time or “recharging” time. When we change the way we look at (and talk about) solitude, our experience of it begins to shift.

Sure, you may still have moments of feeling lonely, that is a normal part of the human experience. But loneliness doesn’t have to be your permanent state of being. And it would be a shame to wish away alone time that can actually be very healing and transformative.

Look at solitude as an opportunity for deeper self-awareness, greater connection to source, and increased self-love and self-care, and you’ll no longer resist this period of being alone…you’ll being to embrace it.

Share your ideas

What positives have you experienced from being alone? Please share!

Resources

For more on this topic, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author


Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 1, 2021

Why is dating so hard?!

You put your profile up, excited at the possibility of meeting someone wonderful. Soon after, you get a nice message from a cute guy who seems genuine. You chat back and forth, and you start feeling eager to meet him. You suggest meeting up, and then…radio silence.

What happened?! Where did he go? Did you say something wrong?

He could have been a catfisher. He may have social anxiety or commitment issues. You may have said something he didn’t like. Or he may not be that into you…the truth is, you will likely never know what happened.

There’s no doubt about it, dating in the digital world is challenging. It’s like driving on a giant freeway with no rules and everyone going in different directions!

Like many women, when my ex & I first split I dreaded dating, especially online dating. And the more I resisted it, the worse things felt…I felt rejected if someone ghosted me or didn’t choose me. I attracted mama’s boys, emotionally damaged men, and even a narcissist.

And the more failed relationships I had, the worse I felt about myself (and about men). Was there something wrong with me? Were there no good men out there? Was I destined to be alone forever?

Eventually I realized…hey, wait a second, I can blame the guys, but the common denominator here is me! But I know I’m a good person, so it’s not that there’s something wrong with me; it must be that I’m doing something wrong (and sure enough, I was)!

That realization led me to use my journalism training to research dating and relationships for almost a decade, then apply what I learned and fix the underlying reasons why I attracted (and chose) wounded men. Now, I attract a much higher calibre of men, and I don’t settle for less than what I want and deserve. And I no longer get discouraged by the low-calibre ones…I simply say no and move on.

I’ve learned to feel great as a single woman, and even to enjoy the process of dating! Which is why I decided to become a love and empowerment coach for single women, and help other women learn to be happy on their own and enjoy dating too.

What goes wrong when dating

So let’s begin with the main question: Why is dating so hard?

Through my research, I’ve discovered there are five main reasons: 

1. Dating for the wrong reasons – Many people date in order to avoid feelings of sadness and loneliness. But sad and lonely people attract sad and lonely people. Your pain will attract their pain. So to attract someone better, you must do the work to heal and unpack your emotional baggage first. The right reason to date is because you’re feeling great about your life and want to share your happiness with someone (you’re not looking for someone to make you happy).

2. Looking for validation and acceptance – Many people are also looking for validation from their dates/partners…to be chosen so that they feel good about themselves. But you’ll always attract a reflection of what you feel inside. So if you don’t feel confident in yourself, you’ll attract someone who makes you feel less confident. Or you’ll feel overly “rejected” when someone doesn’t choose you. Or you’ll choose too quickly, just because someone is flattering you. To be successful in love, you must first know and love who you are. Feeling good about yourself is the best antidote to perceived rejection and allows you to be more patient and choose better.

3. Not knowing what you actually want – Many people use the trial and error method of dating, and actually have no clue what they really want. Or they have a very vague ideal. But here’s the thing: you can’t get what you want if you don’t even know what that is! And trial and error is a painful way of doing relationships, because you have to keep going through break-ups, over and over again. Just like you shouldn’t get to the drive-through window without knowing what you’re ordering, you shouldn’t sign up for online dating without knowing what you want either.

4. Having limiting beliefs – You don’t get what you want in life, you get what you believe. So even if you figure out what you want, if you believe that online dating sucks, there’s no good men out there, men only want young women, men are all out-of-shape, there’s no one where you live…then that is what will happen in your reality. You will prove yourself right. We will never act contrary to our beliefs. So what you’re seeing and experiencing in your “reality” is simply a mirror of your present beliefs. Don’t like your results? Change your beliefs!

5. Focusing on the wrong thing – What you focus on, expands. So if you keep focusing on the jerks, liars, cheaters, players…that’s what you’ll continue to attract and see! Not because there aren’t good people out there. But because that is what you told your brain to focus on. So stop focusing on what you don’t want, and learn how to control your point of focus.

“Reality” is subjective

Many single women I talk to try to convince me that online dating really does suck and there are no good ones left, because that has been their experience…their “reality.”

And granted, it’s true that it’s their experience of reality (subjective reality), but it’s not an objective reality that is true for all people. Many women enjoy dating, and many of my clients have found love while online dating ― we are not all having the same experience!

Think of it this way…when it’s 14⁰ Celsius in the fall after a long hot summer, it feels cold. But when it’s 14⁰ Celsius after a long cold winter, it feels warm! Saying it is cold or warm is not objective truth or reality ― it is subjective experience (and what someone who lives down South finds “cold” will be different than someone who lives up North does).

Your experiences are simply a reflection of your past beliefs, emotions and behaviours…which is what generates your results.

How do I know this? Because I coach single women who come to me with a pattern of attracting the wrong partners…and when they do the inner work to shift this, they start attracting a better quality of partner.

It isn’t magic…it’s frequency and focus. When we complain about what we don’t like (e.g. online dating and players), we reinforce it and attract more of it. It’s like tuning into the country music station where everyone has lost their dog, truck and wife, when what you want to hear is peaceful, spa-like music. Your dial is tuned to the wrong station!

So, when you’re struggling in love, it makes no sense to keep dating. As Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He also said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”

In other words, you won’t see the good guys when you keep complaining about your current “reality” and your vision is clouded by your struggle, pain and fear. Continuing to date when you are feeling this way will not result in a different experience, so it’s wasted time and effort.

How can I change my dating experience?

Contrary to popular belief, there are just as many good single men out there as women. And there is an easier way to find them. Dating doesn’t have to be as hard as people make it out to be.

Long story short, if you’re finding it hard, you’re doing it wrong! And if you want different results, change your approach!

So please, for goodness sake, stop dating if it’s not working for you! Recalibrate, change your beliefs and date from a place of happiness and confidence instead of trying to fill a void in your life.

If you don’t acknowledge your responsibility in who you’re attracting, who you’re choosing, and why you keep staying too long in unhealthy relationships, you are giving your power away to others and you cannot fix the problem.

Your point of power is not in complaining about or trying to change men. It’s in changing yourself…your beliefs, emotions, attitude, behaviours and focus.

Where can I get help?

If you want to know how to change your dating experience, I invite you to a FREE online event on April 6 called Finding Love in these Crazy Times. During this 90-minute masterclass, you will learn:

  • How finding love has changed in modern times (and since COVID)
  • The 10 biggest mistakes people make when looking for love
  • How to be safe when meeting strangers
  • How to know if they’re into you
  • The easier way to find your soulmate

Learn more and register here.

There is also a 1-day virtual workshop on Saturday, May 1 called the Soulmate Attraction Summit.

At this powerful event, you will discover:

  • The real reasons why you’re still single
  • How to avoid the wrong people
  • Why “rejection” is a good thing (and how to get past it)
  • How to consciously attract an evolved partner
  • How to know if they’re a keeper

This event is low-cost, and all proceeds go to Women’s Shelters Canada. Learn more and register here.

Share your ideas

Have you had a positive dating experience? Please share!

Resources

For more on this topic, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner.

Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | February 26, 2021

When love isn’t healthy

At first, everything seemed wonderful.

They had a lot in common and talked for hours about anything and everything. She found it refreshing how open he was about himself, which encouraged her to share her hopes and dreams eagerly. He showered her with attention, affection and gifts, and went out of his way to do kind things for her. It was more love than she’d ever received in her entire life, and it felt so good.

It felt so good, in fact, that she was willing to overlook things that didn’t feel right to her. Like the way he played head games with his ex. Or how he hid certain aspects of his past. Or how fast he was moving, even though she had said she wanted to go slow.

She thought she was in love…and he even told her he loved her, within a month or so of them meeting. He said he was sure she “was the one.” All this attention he was giving her was good…right?!

Then something changed. He started demanding more and more of her time and attention, becoming jealous of time spent with others. He started picking fights and criticizing her, making her wonder what she was doing wrong. One day he’d be warm and loving; the next day he’d be angry and cold. She felt like she was constantly walking on eggshells, not wanting to set him off again.

But still she stayed, wanting to hold onto the dream of how good it felt in the beginning, hoping her love would change him.

Is it love…or an addiction?

We are all wired for love. We want to feel cared for and connected to other human beings. And in our culture, we especially want to feel loved by a romantic partner…that one person we know will always be there for us, no matter what.

But if we try to use romantic love as a replacement for loving ourselves, as a way to avoid low self-esteem and uncomfortable emotions (like loneliness, sadness and anxiety), we inevitably get ourselves into trouble.

What many people call love is not really love…it’s actually an addiction. When you need another to feel happy, to feel loved, to feel validated and appreciated, you are more likely to choose someone who needs you to survive as well…and this is not love, it’s co-dependency.

Addictive love follows a pattern that looks like this:

  • You choose based on “chemistry” and jump in quickly.
  • You have sex early on, and feel “connected.”
  • There are early promises of love and commitment.
  • Yet you don’t really know each other.
  • You start seeing things that concern you, but you choose to overlook them.
  • You focus on the fantasy of what you want, not the reality of what you have.
  • You self-sacrifice, giving up things that are important to you for the other.
  • Things get bad, yet you stay.
  • You feel like you love this person too much to let go.
  • You try to get them to change, to be what you want them to be.
  • Even once the relationship ends, you find yourself obsessing about them.
  • You feel like your world has fallen apart and don’t know how to be on your own.

This is not healthy love. You feel unable to go on without them because you have revolved your life around them…instead of revolving it around you. Without your center, you feel lost.

Let me be clear: the level of distress you feel is NOT proof of how much you love them. It’s proof of how much of yourself you gave away.

Is it love…or abuse?

Let’s take this one step further. Not only can “love” be unhealthy and addictive; it can also be downright abusive.

I think it’s fairly clear what physical and sexual abuse looks like, so I won’t elaborate on that here. If someone is hitting you, threatening you, or forcing you to do things with your body that you don’t want to, it’s abuse. Get out while you still can.

The type of abuse I want to focus on here is emotional abuse…because it can be really subtle and tricky to spot, especially at first. And emotional abusers are usually careful to hide their unhealthy behaviours in the beginning…until you’re already committed and “all in.”

Emotional abuse happens when another person uses words to try to manipulate, hurt and control you. These people are often highly intelligent and very good at getting inside your head and heart…and then they use your vulnerabilities, needs and desires against you.

Common tactics emotional abusers use include:

  • They go very fast in the beginning, making early promises of love and commitment.
  • They “love bomb” you, showering you with attention, making you feel loved and cared for.
  • They give a lot in the beginning, causing you to open up and give back.
  • They act like a martyr, causing you to feel guilty they have “done so much for you.”
  • Then they start criticizing your looks, your career, your personality, your intelligence.
  • And they start withholding love, affection, attention (or give it inconsistently).
  • They ignore your boundaries…physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
  • They use guilt trips, silent treatments, threats and ultimatums to get what they want from you.
  • They start fights over small issues, and viciously attack you for minor transgressions.
  • They twist the facts, making you feel like you can’t trust your own judgment.
  • They outright lie, saying they didn’t do or say something they did (or saying you did).
  • They use their intellect against you (making a case to prove you’re wrong).
  • They use your fears, insecurities, feelings and vulnerabilities against you.
  • If you call out their behaviour, they never take accountability.
  • Instead, they call you too sensitive, emotional, crazy or insecure.
  • They gaslight you, and make you feel like any problem they’ve caused is actually your fault.
  • They project their issues onto you, accusing you of doing what they are actually doing.
  • They triangulate and use your own friends and family members against you.
  • These tactics cause you to feel insecure and focus more on their needs (less on yours).
  • They cause you to explode in frustration and anger, which they say is proof you’re the problem.
  • They cause you to doubt your own sanity and goodness (you think it’s all your fault).
  • Over time, you try so hard to be what they want you to be that you don’t even know who you are or what YOU want anymore.
  • Everything revolves around them. Which is exactly how they want it.

This is the classic trajectory of emotional abuse. And it won’t get better; it will only get worse. No one deserves to be treated this way. Find support and leave as soon as you can.

If you fear you’re in danger or don’t know where to turn, here is where you can get professional help:

What healthy love looks like

Real love takes time to build…think slow-burning fire, not brush fire. It takes time to get to know someone, to see all aspects of who they really are, to know if they are a good match for your values, personality and lifestyle.

Healthy love:

  • Feels safe and comfortable.
  • Allows each person to maintain a separate identity, and separate friends.
  • Grows over time, as you get to know someone (both qualities and faults).
  • Acknowledges each person’s unique needs and desires.
  • Supports each person’s growth and wellbeing.
  • Is patient and understanding.
  • Is compassionate of each other’s flaws and wounds.
  • Is kind, even in conflict situations.
  • Seeks first to understand.
  • Looks for win-win solutions.
  • Is loyal and trustworthy.
  • Gets stronger with time as trust builds.

Everyone wants “love at first sight,” but that is rarely a sign of a healthy relationship. Instead, look for “love that stands the test of time.”

How to avoid unhealthy love

The number one way to avoid unhealthy love is to slow down and get to know someone gradually. You don’t really know someone until you’ve seen them under stress, how they resolve conflicts, and how they treat you (and others). And that can take many months (even years) to see!

Other important strategies include:

  • Heal your past so you stop repeating it.
  • Learn how to process and regulate your emotions.
  • Rebuild your identity and learn to love yourself.
  • Improve your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Learn how to meet your own needs for validation and affirmation.
  • Learn how to feel happy on your own.
  • Learn how to set healthy boundaries, be assertive, and use your voice.
  • Learn how to make better choices in love.
  • Take your time dating. Slow down! Don’t rush into sex or commitment.
  • When they show you who they really are, believe them. Don’t wish they were different.
  • Don’t choose based on “potential.” Choose based on how they are showing up now.
  • Trust your instincts. Your body is a tuning fork…if something feels wrong, it is.
  • If a relationship becomes unhealthy, get professional support and/or leave.

Most of all, remember…your heart and body are precious cargo, so treat them that way! Just like you’d screen a potential caregiver for a child, make sure the person you give yourself to has shown themselves to be loving, kind and trustworthy.

For more on finding healthy love, check out my 45-minute webinar called: Loving without Losing.

Share your ideas

Does this resonate with you? Please share!

Resources

For more on this topic, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | January 29, 2021

Do we have to love ourselves to love and be loved?

It’s become a common saying in the personal development industry that it’s important to “love yourself.”

But lately I’ve noticed a backlash against the self-love movement, by people who say it’s unfair to imply that because a person struggles with self-esteem or confidence issues, they can’t be loved (or truly love another).

And I would agree…but mostly because I think the intention and purpose behind the self-love movement is being misunderstood.

Why self-love matters

Self-love isn’t about becoming so uber confident and sure of ourselves that we have no scars, no self-doubt, no insecurities. Show me a person who can say that and you’ve likely either found someone who is a) lying to hide their insecurities or b) overly arrogant / a narcissist.

To err is human. To doubt is human. To fear is human. To feel pain and be wounded by someone else’s words or actions is human. To take all this away would be to make us into unfeeling robots…and strip us of the beauty of two hearts openly sharing vulnerabilities and healing them together.

Self-love isn’t about perfection…reaching some unachievable place where all our healing and growth is “done.” Instead, it’s about learning to fundamentally like, love and respect ourselves, and treat ourselves with the same love and respect we want from others.

For people who had reasonably normal childhoods, this usually comes naturally. Because they received positive mirroring from their parents in childhood, they have a solid sense of self, love who they are, have healthy boundaries, and treat themselves with respect and kindness.

But for people who grew up with abuse, neglect, or trauma, the mirroring process either did not happen or was inaccurate/incomplete. Because of negative, damaging things said to them repeatedly―or a complete lack of positivity―the child did not grow up with a positive self-image, and so struggles as an adult to feel good about themselves. This typically leads to critical self-talk, self-neglect, low standards and poor boundaries. It also leads to unhealthy choices and chronic over-giving / self-sacrificing in relationships.

So the reason why self-love matters isn’t because you’re unlovable due to a crappy childhood that you didn’t ask for. And it’s not because you’re incapable of experiencing love.

It’s because without self-love you will continue to have poor boundaries and lack assertiveness in your relationships. You will continue to attract people who treat you with the same lack of respect and kindness you show yourself (like attracts like). If you feel “not good enough,” you will continue to feel drawn to people who prove you right and push away those who would have proved you wrong.

We don’t get what we want in life…we get what we believe. If you believe there’s something wrong with you, you will keep attracting people who tell or show you there’s something wrong with you, until you buckle down and do the work to heal the wound and shift the belief.

When we have unhealed wounds, our pain attracts their pain. And two wounded people who have done no healing work rarely (if ever) create a truly healthy relationship. Yes, there will be an aspect of our healing that can only happen in a relationship. But if we go into our relationships with an open, gaping wound, we are more likely to choose someone who re-wounds us, than someone who helps us heal.

What self-love means

As a love and empowerment coach for single women, I stand behind the principle that to achieve healthy relationships, we need to spend time and energy learning how to heal our hearts, process and regulate our emotions, re-build our identity, validate and affirm ourselves, set healthy boundaries, stand in our power, and make better choices.

This is what self-love is really about. It’s about treating ourselves with the same care and concern as we usually easily show our kids, friends, partners. It involves learning how to re-parent ourselves and give ourselves what we need to feel happy and healthy.

When two lonely, wounded people come together to form a relationship, that’s generally a recipe for disaster. When two happy, healthy people come together (even if they still have scars), the ingredients are there for a successful relationship.

How to love yourself

If this resonates with you and you’d like to learn more about how to love yourself, I invite you to attend my free online masterclass on February 8 at 8 pm ET: Fall Madly in Love with You!

During this live online masterclass, you will:

  • Discover why we look for love in all the wrong places
  • Understand why loving yourself matters
  • Erase old wounds
  • Learn how to truly love and support yourself
  • Enjoy Valentine’s Day even if you’re single

Learn more and register here…there is no cost, and you can attend from the comfort of your own home!

Share your ideas

What have you learned on your self-love journey? Please share!

Resources

For more on this topic, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner.

Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 30, 2020

2020: A year to remember

One thing is for sure…2020 will go down in modern history as a year to remember!

If nothing else, we’ve expanded on our vocabulary this year:

  • COVID-19
  • coronavirus
  • pandemic
  • flatten the curve
  • quarantine
  • lockdown
  • shelter in place
  • self-isolate
  • social distancing
  • bubble
  • PPE (personal protective equipment)

I mean, who would have thought, at the beginning of 2020, we’d experience a global pandemic that in one year would infect nearly 80 million people, killing over 1.7 million? Or that in an attempt to control the spread, we would repeatedly shut down a huge chunk of the world’s economy, forcing entire countries to stay home and grounding planes worldwide?

Who could have foreseen how much hand sanitizer we’d use, how much time we’d spend watching Netflix, or how trendy masks would become?

It’s been an odd and difficult year. That much I think we can all agree on. And the truth is, the pandemic is not over yet. So what’s a person to do to remain positive and hopeful heading into 2021?

The law of opposites

When we go through challenges, it’s important to remember the law of opposites…that we experience the opposite of what we want so that we can increase our desire for (and appreciation of) what we do want.

We experience darkness so that we may know the beauty of light (Christmas lights are not nearly so magical during the day). We feel loneliness so that we can appreciate love and togetherness. We experience being single so we can appreciate being in a relationship.

Going through a pandemic brings what’s important in life into sudden and sharp focus.

Are we missing things…stuff money can buy? Nope. What we’re missing is people. And experiences.

We’re missing hugging our friends and loved ones. We’re missing seeing our kids, grandkids, parents, siblings, relatives in person. We’re missing family dinners, holiday get-togethers, graduations and birthday parties. We’re missing live music, concerts, theatre, going to restaurants, going to the gym, travel.

And hugs…I am definitely missing hugs.

So what is the pandemic showing us? It shows us what matters, what we most value …and what hopefully none of us will ever take for granted again (including our health).

Choosing our point of focus

We can’t control everything that happens in our lives… certainly none of us is in control of this pandemic. So obsessing about numbers, how the government is handling the situation or what others are doing will only make us feel miserable…and it’s not where our power is anyway.

Where our power lies is in our ability to control our focus…which is what directs our emotions and behaviours.

How we feel is directly co-related to what we’re focusing on. If we focus our attention on what’s difficult, what we can’t do and what we fear, we feel badly. If we focus on what is going well, what we can do and what we want to create, we feel better.

If focusing on the positive has been difficult for you, you’re not alone. But here’s what I know for sure…looking at things we don’t like and things we have no control over is a surefire way of making ourselves miserable.

Instead, the shortest path to feeling better is to get into a state of gratitude and appreciation.

So to help you shift your focus, let’s look at 10 positive things that have come from this pandemic:

  • Slower pace – One of the upsides of repeated lockdowns is a slower pace of life this year…fewer activities allows us to be introspective, look at what’s not working in our lives, make changes, and learn how to simply be.
  • Home improvements – Because we’ve been in our homes more, many have taken the opportunity to do home improvement projects, everything from decluttering to repainting or building a deck.
  • Family time – Because our social bubbles have lately been restricted to immediate family, it’s creating a whole new appreciation of our bonds with those we hold dear.
  • Technology – Can you imagine if this had happened 10-20 years ago? The great thing about recent advances in technology (smart phones, video chat apps) is that it allows us to stay connected even while we’re isolated in our homes.
  • Working from home – Lockdowns have allowed many people to work from home, avoiding a lengthy commute and parking fees. Many workplaces are planning on continuing work-from-home arrangements at least part-time once the pandemic is over.
  • Renewed focus on health – We’ve come to appreciate our health and mental wellbeing in a whole new way this year…and we’re becoming more conscious of others’ health and wellbeing as well.
  • A breather for the environment – Fewer cars on the road and planes in the air means less pollution and a much-needed break for our furry friends and the environment.
  • Elevated consciousness – One thing a pandemic does is make us realize that no one is immune to falling ill, losing their job, or losing loved ones. It also makes us realize that our individual actions can impact people literally around the globe, and hopefully makes us more conscious of the actions we’re taking.
  • Appreciation of service providers – We’re more appreciative than ever of health care workers and teachers, as well as service providers who are often over-looked but now on the front lines (like store staff and restaurant workers).
  • Community service – Because many are struggling during these challenging times, there seems to be a greater sense of community, with more people offering to help others.

I’m sure you can think of others…please leave your ideas in the comment section below! 🙂

Using our creative power

We all have the ability to harness our energy and brain’s creative power for good…but only if we do so consciously.

When we’re operating on default and reacting to events outside us, we worry. And worry about the future is really wasted energy…it doesn’t change the outcome and makes you miserable in the meantime. It’s like praying for what you don’t want to have happen.

A better use of your brain’s creative power is to envision what you do want to have happen. Ask yourself: if 2021 was your best year ever (or at least, a much better year than 2020), what would you want to experience?

Instead of fearing the worst, use your time and energy to set goals for next year, and to visualize the outcome you want so that you feel motivated to take action and create change.

Things don’t just get better by themselves. They get better because we choose different thoughts, which create different emotions and lead us to take different actions.

So choose your thoughts carefully…focus on what you want to create next year. Get excited about the possibilities. And then take the next step towards your goal. One step at a time, you’ll change the life that’s in front of you, and create the reality you desire. Best wishes for a healthy and joyful 2021!

Share your ideas

What are some positive things that happened in 2020? What are your top goals for 2021? Please share!

Resources

For more ideas on how to make next year great, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner.

Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | November 30, 2020

A merry COVID Christmas

A merry what?!

Ok, so we all know these are unusual times we’re living in, and that these holidays will not look the same as in years past. Not being able to see our families and friends is not on anyone’s Christmas wish list, nor is spending the holidays alone, especially for single people and seniors.

When things aren’t the way we want them to be, we can make ourselves miserable by resisting the situation and continuing to focus on what’s “wrong.” It’s a guaranteed way to let the Grinch steal your Christmas.

Or―just like the Whos in Whoville who joined hands and sang songs after the Grinch stole their presents―we can make ourselves feel better by adapting to the situation and making the best of it. Ask yourself, “How can I make this Christmas feel good?”

When we embrace―instead of resist―our current circumstances, we may even make the holidays better than before! (I know I’m actually looking forward to a quieter, more peaceful and less hectic Christmas this year.)

Ideas for making Christmas fun

Here are 10 ideas for making Christmas fun, even during COVID:

  1. Light it up – Go crazy with decorating inside and outside…add some extra lights and bows to make things look more festive feel more joyful. We added extra lights in our backyard this year so we can see them out our picture window, and I’m even adding white lights to the plant in my bedroom so it feels sparkly and bright! Oh, and we’ll be keeping our lights on until the snow is gone. 😊

  2. Go light gazing – Many people are putting up extra outdoor lights this year. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood in the evening to lift your spirits, or a drive around town (there are many places that have organized lit trails you can drive through as well – there are 3 here in Ottawa!).

  3. Treat yourself – Splurge and buy yourself some nice gifts this year, especially if you live alone. Wrap them and put them under the tree so you have something to look forward to Christmas day. This year is all about comfort for me…fluffy blankets and socks, bath products and candles!

  4. Host an online party – Big get-togethers with friends and family are out this year, so consider hosting a virtual party instead! I usually host a big “Ugly Sweater, Horrible Gifts, Terrible Singing” party for my friends every year, and this year will be no exception…I’ll just host it on Zoom, we’ll exchange our funny gifts by dropping them on each other’s doorsteps, and we’ll do online karaoke and play virtual games for fun while dressed in silly sweaters and drinking our favourite beverage!

  5. Have a virtual dinner – Don’t eat Christmas dinner alone. If you’re in an area where it’s allowed, find a friend or family member to join you. If it’s not allowed, grab your computer and have dinner virtually…you can still talk and share laughter like you normally would, you’ll just be eating different meals! 😊

  6. Do an online game or craftYaymaker has many cool craft and games that can be done virtually for a pretty low price. Check them out and either join on your own or organize something with friends/family members!

  7. Check out an online concert – Many great artists (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Barenaked Ladies etc.) have announced they are hosting online concerts over the next few weeks. Do a Google or Facebook search and grab a ticket to something that will inspire you and make you smile.

  8. Get outside – Go snowshoeing, skiing, skating, sledding, walking…enjoy the winter weather and different options it provides.

  9. Have a Christmas movie marathon – Put on your comfiest PJs and watch some sappy, uplifting movies…better yet, do it with a friend (either in person or virtually).

  10. Escape to an exotic location virtually – There are many museums and places around the world you can now “visit” virtually…do a Google search and you’ll soon have many ideas for places to escape to from the comfort of your own home!

Ideas for giving back

Another great way of improving your outlook over the holidays is to see where you can lend a hand. Some ideas include:

  • Support local – Many businesses are struggling, so buying food, gifts and gift cards from your favourite places may help them to get through this winter and still be around next year.

  • Make an online donation – There are so many great charities out there needing support. I particularly like Food Banks Canada, the Shoebox Project (for homeless women), and Kiva.org (microloans for business owners in developing countries).

  • Share your talent – Make baked goods or crafts and share with people who may be feeling lonely or blue this holiday season.

  • Check in with others – Think of who you know who is alone over the holidays and give them a call to check in and see how they’re doing.

  • Random acts of kindness – Do something nice for someone in your community to lift their spirits. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway. Brush snow off someone’s car. Buy a coffee for the next person in line at the drive-through. Tell the store clerk you appreciate their hard work. Little things go a long way, especially in times like these (and they rarely cost anything other than time).

Share your ideas

Please share your ideas for making the holidays great in the comments below!

Resources

For more holiday inspiration, see:

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | October 31, 2020

10 tips for thriving this fall & winter

Winter doesn’t have to be a season you dread, even during COVID. Plan ahead so you not only survive, but actually thrive this year!

The challenges of winter

As the last leaves fall from the trees and snow begins to fly, many people are particularly dreading winter this year.

With winter comes shorter, darker days, frigid weather (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere), and hibernating indoors. Every year, I witness many people around me crash and burn emotionally somewhere between January and March (and sometimes as early as November). Often, they are being affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder and don’t even know it.

And this year due to the pandemic, we’re anticipating that our activities may be even further restricted, and social gatherings made difficult, if not impossible. So the typical challenges winter brings seem even more compounded this year.

The key to surviving this winter…and dare I say thriving…is to learn more about the effects of less sunlight (and social time) on us, and plan ahead so that instead of nosediving, we keep our bodies running at cruising altitude!

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects people typically during late fall and winter. It occurs most commonly in the northern hemisphere, due to our lack of proximity to the equator and resulting decrease in sunlight (which can cause a drop in melatonin and serotonin production in our bodies).

Symptoms of SAD are the same as general depression, and may include:

  • a sad, despairing mood that lasts most of the day for more than 2 weeks
  • impaired performance at work/school or in relationships
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • sleep problems and fatigue
  • irritability
  • trouble concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • loss of interest in work, hobbies, people or sex
  • withdrawal from family and friends
  • feeling hopeless and pessimistic 
  • crying easily (or feeling like crying but not being able to)
  • suicidal thoughts (please call a Helpline if you’re feeling this way)

Between 2-3% of people experience full-on SAD, and close to 15% experience milder symptoms. 

Additional risk factors include:

  • Being a woman (women are four times more likely than men to have SAD)
  • Being young (rates of SAD decrease with age)
  • Family or personal history of depression

The most common treatment for SAD is light therapy (i.e. getting outside in the sun more and/or getting a sun lamp). Medication and psychotherapy are also sometimes prescribed.

Thriving instead of surviving

Whether or not you have SAD, this year in particular, we’re all going to need to be extra prepared to weather the proverbial storm.

Here’s the thing…we can head into winter dreading it and bracing ourselves.

Or we can find a way to embrace and enjoy it, COVID restrictions and all.

In 2015, a Stanford researcher studied why there were very low rates of SAD in Norway, despite the northern climate and cold winters. He discovered that the reason they weathered winter better was that they had a very different attitude towards winter than most North Americans…they saw it as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured.

Norwegians have a word for winter called “koselig,” which loosely translates into a “sense of coziness.” They enjoy the change of pace that winter brings, including the opportunity to snuggle up in front of a fireplace and marvel at the beauty of freshly fallen snow.

I’m the first to admit that winter is my least favourite season (I hate being cold, miss being outside every day, and struggle with SAD). But I also don’t want to wish 4 to 5 months of my life away, so I’ve learned how to make the best of this season and actually have fun.

So today, I’m going to share with you my best strategies for enjoying winter!

Top 10 tips for thriving this winter

  1. Sunshine – Since SAD is caused by a lack of sunshine, it makes sense that the first solution is to get outside more, even during the winter. It can also really help to get a sun lamp (you can find a good model on Amazon or through your pharmacy for around $200 or so).

  2. Supplements – While I can’t recommend specific supplements for you (I am not a health care practitioner), there’s lots of research out there to support taking a Vitamin D supplement (a third of Canadians have insufficient Vitamin D levels). It not only helps to replace what you’re not getting from the sun in winter, but it’s also a known immune booster. Other supplements like fish oil and a multivitamin may also help, and oil of oregano is a natural anti-viral. So don’t wait until you get sick…talk to your doctor or naturopath today about which supplements are right for you!

  3. Stillness – Instead of pushing against winter’s natural period of contraction, work with the energy by carving out time to simply BE. Meditate, sit quietly and check in with your body, listen to the silence, enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with less frenetic periods of life.

  4. Inspiration –Use your downtime to take in inspiring ideas through uplifting magazines, podcasts, music, movies, quotes, websites and apps.

  5. Perspiration – There’s tons of research to show that exercise helps to boost mood…it increases the levels of dopamine and endorphins in your body (happy chemicals). It also helps to release stress chemicals like cortisol. The very worst thing you can do if you feel depressed is sit still. The best thing you can do is move your body…ideally outside if possible. So create a plan NOW for how you’ll fit in exercise this winter…find a walking buddy, sign up for an online workout program or yoga program. Even 15 minutes a day can have a tremendous benefit.

  6. Projects –During winter, we’re indoors more, so it’s the perfect time to look around your home and start a project to beautify and improve your living environment. Some ideas include: decluttering, redecorating, putting pictures in frames, starting a DIY project, re-arranging furniture, repainting.

  7. Play – This will be a different kind of winter…but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Think about what you can do in winter that you can’t do in other seasons. Better yet, make a winter bucket list! Some ideas include: skiing (downhill or cross-country), snowshoeing, skating, making snowmen, making a snow or ice fort, going sledding or tubing, going for a walk to see Christmas lights. You can also look for ways to bring more of the things you enjoy and that make you laugh into your life (e.g. comedy shows, sitcoms, funny movies, board games, flowers, etc.).

  8. Creativity –Related to play, find ways to bring out your creative muse this winter. You
    don’t have to be an artist…everyone has a creative side. It gives us something positive to focus our mind on so we don’t drift to negative thoughts and allows us to express ourselves. This is also a great opportunity to take a class and learn something new (check out Yaymaker for lots of great classes). Some ideas include: doing a paint night, drawing, getting an adult colouring book, cooking/baking new recipes, painting rocks, doing origami, knitting, playing music on an instrument, singing, writing/journaling.

  9. Comfort – Borrowing from the Norwegians, find ways to make your home cozy and warm. We need more fire element in the winter! For example, use soft blankets, warm tea/hot chocolate, a fireplace (real or fake), candles, warm socks, warm and bright-coloured clothing, twinkling lights.

  10. Community – It is SO important to connect with others, especially in the winter months. We naturally tend to keep to ourselves more…but then we feel isolated! Make new friends through an online community or Meetup. Have at least a couple people you connect with regularly. Schedule your next call or video chat…don’t wait for something to happen. Volunteer to help others (e.g. writing letters to seniors in nursing homes, filling purses for homeless women, participating in food drives, helping out in a soup kitchen). When we help others, it makes our problems seem smaller.

You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but I don’t have time.” I’d suggest you don’t have time not to. As the saying goes, “If you don’t make time for wellness, you will be forced to make time for illness.” When we prioritize our physical and emotional wellbeing, we don’t lose so much time to being sick, having low energy or being depressed. We also have more energy for work and for our loved ones.

So use these ideas to create your own Winter Wellness Plan, and take charge of how you feel this winter!!

Resources

If you’d like to join a global community of single women who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

If you’re really struggling to cope this winter, reach out and call a Helpline:

And if you’re struggling with heartbreak and want to heal your pain faster, I invite you to attend my 1-day virtual workshop (the cost is very low, you can attend from anywhere, and all proceeds go to charity):

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free inspirational resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | September 30, 2020

What to do (and not to do) when a relationship ends

When a relationship ends, it can be excruciatingly painful, regardless of the reason…

Maybe the person cheated on you and chose someone else, causing you to feel like you weren’t good/young/pretty/sexy enough to make him stay.

Or perhaps you were with a toxic partner, someone who beat you down and drained you of your positive energy, leaving you feeling like a shell of the person you once were.

Maybe he told you he didn’t love you anymore, causing you to wonder if all those years of effort you put in really meant anything.

Or maybe it was you who decided to leave, after years of growing apart and wanting different things. And while it was your choice, you still feel the guilt of breaking up your family.

No matter why your relationship ended, one thing is for sure…it hurts and it’s hard.

The impact of loss

Going through a break-up can send us reeling. It takes a toll on many areas of our life, like our:

  • Kids – Children can really struggle with the loss of security and stability they once knew.

  • Extended family – Relationships with in-laws and even our own family can become strained.

  • Friends – Sometimes friends pick sides, or because they’re still married they stop including us.

  • Home – Often we have to sell or move out of the home we spent years building.

  • Finances – Splitting assets and paying for bills and lawyers can be quite costly.

  • Self-esteem – Especially if the other person left, we may doubt our lovability and desirability.

  • Physical health – We may feel exhausted from the stress, and suffer from an illness as a result.

  • Mental health – Prolonged stress can lead to disorders like depression and anxiety.

Make no mistake, recovering from a break-up isn’t easy. They say on average, it takes 7 years to grieve and recover from the end of a relationship!

Typical coping strategies (and why they don’t work)

I believe a big part of why it takes so long to recover from heartbreak is that people use the wrong strategies to deal with their pain.

The most common ways people cope with a break-up include:

  1. Keeping busy – Working too much, socializing so much they’re rarely home, constantly cleaning or fixing things around the house, over-focusing on their kids (instead of themselves).  

  2. Zoning out – Numbing their feelings with drugs, alcohol, TV, gaming, social media, shopping, etc.

  3. Dating too soon – Running right back out to find someone new in the hopes that they’ll make them feel better.

  4. Obsessing about their ex – Getting angry and blaming their ex (or feeling sad and missing them), and obsessing about what they’re doing day and night.

  5. Giving up – Dwelling on the pain, feeling hopeless and depressed, shutting down and shutting people out.

The reason why these strategies don’t work well is because they involve either avoiding pain or dwelling on pain, instead of learning how to properly process, release and heal difficult emotions.

What we focus on expands (dwelling on pain), and what we resist, persists (avoiding pain). So the pain never really goes away when we use these strategies. And contrary to popular belief, time does not heal all wounds (I’ve worked with many people who decades later have still not healed).

A better strategy for healing and moving on

So instead of avoiding or dwelling on your pain, what should you do?

These 5 steps will help you to feel better faster:

  1. Focus on healing. Your first step should be to practice self-care and give yourself time to heal in a healthy way. There is a lot we can learn from our relationships, including the ones that didn’t work out…if we give ourselves time to heal and grow.

  2. Understand your role. It takes two to tango…you’ve made choices and decisions that contributed to whatever happened, and the sooner you figure out what your role was, the faster you will grow and move on to something better (instead of constantly repeating the lesson/mistake). 

  3. Learn who to avoid. If you’ve been in unhealthy relationships, it pays to learn more about your relationship patterns and toxic people…so you know who you don’t want to attract.

  4. Raise your standards. If you’ve been choosing people who can’t (or won’t) meet your needs, who take instead of give, who are abusive or unkind…it’s time to raise your standards for love, and learn what a healthy relationship looks like.

  5. Get on the fast track to love. Once you’ve done your healing work, it’s time to learn how to attract a great partner…one who will treat you with love and respect and be capable of creating a joyful, harmonious partnership with you.

With some concerted effort and the right advice and support, you can heal after heartbreak and lead a joyful, fulfilling life (either on your own or with a new partner).

If you need more help…

If this all makes sense but you need some help with the healing process, I have great news for you…I have two FREE online workshops coming up that will really help you move the needle:

And if you’re really wanting to dive deep and heal your pain faster, I invite you to attend my 1-day virtual workshop (the cost is very low, and all proceeds go to charity):

Finally, if you’d like to be in a community of other single women around the world who want to heal, feel empowered and support each other, I invite you to join my free Facebook group:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | August 27, 2020

How to avoid online dating scams

If you’ve ever had someone pretend to be someone they’re not online in order to get money from you, you’ve been catfished.

And you are not alone. 

Catfishing (also known as a dating or romance scam) is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Both amateur and expert criminals around the world prey on lonely people (women and men), telling them what they want to hear.

With women, a catfisher usually appears as a handsome man with a good career who says “you’re beautiful” and “I love you” often and quickly (appealing to a woman’s desire to be validated and loved). With men, they appear as young women sending sexy pics and telling them they’re handsome or hot (appealing to a man’s desire to feel young and manly again).

Once they’ve gotten your attention, they love bomb you and message you frequently, creating an online “relationship” with you to build your trust. They may even send you a gift so you think they’re real. Eventually, they ask you for money, with some kind of convincing reason.

If this has happened to you, don’t take it personally or think it means no-one is trustworthy. Just learn the signs to watch for and how to protect yourself (and pass this information on to your single friends!).

Common catfishing signs

Here are some common signs you may be dealing with a catfisher:

  1. They look like models in their photos – If they are drop-dead gorgeous and their photos appear to be professionally taken, the photos are most likely stolen from someone else. Most people get their friends to take photos for them (or take selfies). Another give-away is that aside from the pro shots, they have few or no candid photos showing them in everyday life (e.g. with their dog, playing sports or gardening).

  2. They have a limited social profile – If your potential love interest doesn’t have a lot of friends or posts showing interaction with others on Facebook (or their profile looks new), they are likely not real.

  3. They have poor English – Many of these scams are run from foreign countries, so English is often (though not always) their second language, and their spelling/grammar is poor.

  4. They love bomb you – They get serious way too fast, are over-eager to communicate with you often, and make early promises of love and affection.

  5. Their stories lack details – When you ask them about their life or history, their stories seem very vague, with few personal details and odd inconsistencies (e.g. they say they’re from a certain city but can tell you little about it).

  6. They avoid meeting in person – Probably the most classic sign of a catfisher, they say they can’t meet you in real life, and seem to have a good excuse (currently travelling for a lengthy period, working on an oil rig or diamond mine, on a military posting, etc.). They usually avoid video chats as well (claiming poor Internet connection), wanting to stick to texting/messaging and maybe the occasional phone call.

  7. They ask you for money – The inevitable goal of catfishing is to extort money from you. They will make up an emergency or sob story to convince you their situation is real. Common reasons include: medical (needing money for a prescription or surgery), travel (needing money to come see you), for a child (medical emergency or custody/divorce issues), for legal fees, they need help cashing a cheque, and so on. Don’t fall for it! Never send money (in any form) to a stranger (no matter how well you think you know them / how long you’ve been chatting online).

How to avoid being scammed

Some tips to avoid falling prey to a romance scam:

  1. It’s not a relationship if all you’ve done is chatted online. Understand that the real purpose of online dating is simply to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t. It is not a good way to form a relationship. That must be done in real life…yes, even if you’re shy!!

  2. Don’t get swept up in praise and early promises of love. Take it slow. Ask questions. Learn to love and validate yourself so that you’re less vulnerable to someone who’s paying positive attention to you. 

  3. Research your date – Do your research to make sure this person is who they say they are. Google their name (and city if it’s a common name). Look them up on Facebook and LinkedIn. Do a reverse Google image search on their photos. You can even do a full background check using a service like Backgroundhawk.com (most of the time this isn’t necessary if you do the other checks first).

  4. You can’t know someone is real until you’ve met them live. And a phone call doesn’t count – they can hire someone to talk to you. So don’t spend weeks and months chatting online. Move to a real date in person within a week to two weeks tops. Yes, even during COVID (you can do a socially distanced walk or drink/coffee). If they won’t meet you in real life (they usually have a good excuse like work, travel, etc.), stop communicating with them and move on to someone who IS available.

  5. Trust your instincts – Whether meeting live or online, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You don’t need to know the reason why…trust yourself and move on!

  6. If someone asks you for money DON’T GIVE IT TO THEM!!! It doesn’t matter how good their reason is or how much you think you love them. This is a SCAM!! (See below for more on what to do instead.)

  7. Stop over-giving. Don’t share your heart so eagerly with someone you haven’t even met. Don’t give money to a stranger. Stop selling yourself out to people who will hurt you. Learn to heal your past (including trauma from your childhood and past relationships) so that you’re not so vulnerable to these types of people. You are a precious gift, so please start treating yourself like one, and stop giving yourself away so easily. (Reach out if you need help with this part.)

What to do if you’ve been catfished

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If someone asks for money, immediately end all communication and block them. Don’t confront them – this can result in them luring you back, harassing you with threats, or in calling you at a later date pretending to be police or an investigative agency to get MORE money from you.

Save any records of communication with them, then report them to local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. See Protect yourself from scams and fraud for more on what to do if you’ve been scammed.

Lastly, be sure to report them to the social media or dating site you were using as well, to help protect other innocent victims.

It’s unfortunate that catfishing is out there, but there are many good people online too…you just need to be aware of what to look out for, protect yourself, and above all else, learn to trust your instincts!

Resources

For more information on this important topic:

About the author

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | July 29, 2020

Making new friends (as an adult)

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Several years ago, a series of events happened that caused a huge shift in my social circle. Overnight, it seemed, I lost several key friendships, my mom and my boyfriend.

I felt very alone.

At first I beat myself up about it, thinking I must have done something wrong for so many relationships to be ending.

But in doing some research and talking to friends, I realized it was just the normal cycle of life. People enter our lives, stay for a while, and then sometimes leave. The older we get, it’s common for our social circle to tighten, as we get clearer about our boundaries and the types of people we want to have in our life.

And if you’re a growth-oriented person like me, you may cycle through your friendships faster because you’re changing a lot. I’ve found that I seem to have a significant shift in friends roughly every 7-10 years. There are some friends I’ve had for decades, while others I’ve gained along the way as my interests and consciousness has evolved.

Long story short, it’s normal for your friendships to change over time, and to lose some people along the way. The question is…how can you find new friendships that suit you better?

How adult friendships are different

Making friends as a teenager or in your 20s is pretty easy. As you go to school, go to work or attend social gatherings, you organically bump into people like you and decide to “hang out.” It happens rather naturally.

Fast-forward a few decades, and suddenly making new friends doesn’t seem as simple. We have jobs, families and responsibilities that often don’t leave us a lot of free time. We know more about what we like and don’t like, so are less open to just choosing anyone. And many people already have established social circles and aren’t looking to make new friends.

So how, as an adult, can we begin new friendships?

The starting place isn’t taking action…yet. It’s actually deciding what kind of people you want to meet…in other words, what is important to you in a friendship?

Your list of what you want in a friend might include:

  • Warm and friendly
  • Outgoing (or maybe you prefer quieter)
  • Open-minded
  • Good communicator
  • Consistent (e.g. in responding to texts / emails)
  • Generous and thoughtful
  • Fun / open to new experiences
  • Good sense of humour
  • Athletic / outdoorsy
  • Cultured
  • Smart – able to share ideas
  • Spiritual
  • Likes xyz activities (whichever activities you want to share with someone)

There are many other things you may want in a friend…give it some thought and create your own list of what’s most important.

Then ask yourself the question: where would someone like this tend to hang out?

Where to meet people

Unfortunately, there’s no one magic place where all the good people hang out (either for finding friends or finding dates).  😊

Typically, the best way to meet people is to put yourself out there and go somewhere new. Some ideas for where to go include:

  • Social gatherings organized by friends (e.g. BBQs, house parties)
  • Organized activities that you already enjoy (e.g. MeetUp events, sports events)
  • Events in your area (e.g. outdoor concerts, wine & food shows)
  • A park in an area of town you don’t usually go to
  • Religious services or charitable events
  • Business networking events

The current pandemic does make social gatherings more challenging, so other ways you could meet people without going to larger events include:

  • Joining online groups (there are many on Facebook)
  • Attending online events (look on MeetUp or Eventbrite or do a Google search)
  • Asking existing friends to introduce you to people in their social circle

The more you focus on and talk about finding what you want (e.g. sharing with others what you’re looking for in a friend), the more likely you’ll be to find it!

How to begin a new friendship

So let’s say you’ve met someone interesting, either online or in person. How do you reach out to initiate contact and possibly begin a new friendship?

Often we forget how to start relationships because we’re so out of practice. Here are some ways to get things started:

  1. Comment on something they said (e.g. either say you liked it or mention if you have the same thing in common).
  2. Ask a question to get to know more about them (people love talking about themselves).
  3. Once you’ve established commonality, ask if they’d be interested in getting to know each other better.
  4. If yes, exchange emails and/or phone numbers, add each other on Facebook, etc.
  5. If you met online, set up a time to talk on the phone or on Zoom.
  6. If you live in the same area, set up a “date” to meet for coffee, a drink or a walk.
  7. If that goes well, continue planning regular outings! The way to build a friendship is to invest time and energy in the other person.

Many times, we sit back waiting for someone to initiate contact with us. But if you’re wanting to make new friends, don’t wait passively – take the initiative to reach out to someone else. You’d be surprised how many people are sitting back wanting someone to reach out to them too!

The worst that will happen is they won’t be interested (or you’ll discover there’s not enough in common). The best that can happen is you gain a new wonderful friend!

Five years ago, I reached out to a number of people to connect, and today several of those people are now good friends. I’m so glad I took the risk, and you will be too! 🙂

Resources

If you are a single woman who is looking for a warm, welcoming community, I invite you to join the two I have created (both are free):

For more information on overcoming loneliness:

Share your thoughts

Have you been struggling to make new friends? What is the first step you will take to move out of your comfort zone?

About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen Strang Allen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

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