Posted by: silverliningsblog | June 28, 2020

Using your voice

We’re in a challenging period on our planet, where it’s more important than ever to learn how to use our voices effectively.

If you’ve ever been subject to racism, prejudice, bullying or abuse (especially at a young age), you may have learned to “bite your tongue,” “turn the other cheek” or “not ruffle feathers.” And if your parents were afraid to speak up too, you were even more likely to have been conditioned to keep quiet.

The problem with not saying anything when others are hurting us with their words and actions is that nothing changes. We teach people how to treat us, so by saying nothing, it’s as if we’re condoning what an aggressive person is doing.

It’s time to collectively break the silence…and break the cycle.

Why you’re afraid

Feeling afraid to speak is a trauma response…a fear of being harmed if we say anything. It’s a result of having been silenced by others, sometimes violently. For people of colour and other marginalized people, that fear is magnified from being afraid that the majority (an entire mob) will turn against them.

If you’re afraid to speak your truth, set a boundary, tell someone to stop mistreating you (or others), share your experience, or ask for change, it’s quite likely this fear was triggered long ago, likely in childhood.

You may have grown up in a home where using your voice was actively discouraged. In my home, when I’d try to ask questions or share my thoughts, my mother would often slap me across the face, telling me to “stop talking back.” I was simply trying to understand her decision-making process, but she took it as a threat to being in charge, and silenced me.

I didn’t realize then how great the impact of her actions would be on me. It has taken me many years to find my voice again, to dare to share my thoughts, feelings and needs with others, especially publicly. I sometimes still struggle with it, to be honest.

What was your experience growing up? Did you face neglect, abuse, violence, mental illness or addictions in your home? If so, you were likely not allowed to have healthy boundaries, to say what was ok and not ok with you, to ask for what you needed and have someone respond appropriately (with care and concern).

Did you hear any of these statements growing up?

  • Children should be seen, not heard.
  • Keep your voice down.
  • You’re too loud.
  • Bite your tongue.
  • Be quiet.
  • Shut up.
  • No one wants to hear what you have to say.
  • Your opinion doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t rock the boat.
  • Don’t ruffle feathers.
  • Don’t poke the bear.
  • Good girls don’t get mad.

If so, these statements were teaching you to be quiet, to not use your voice…even when you needed to defend yourself. Even when something needed to be said.

And if you were bullied at school, or unfairly targeted by a group of people for something you couldn’t change (like your skin colour, sexual orientation, or size), you again likely learned to say nothing, because as pack animals, it is a survival mechanism to avoid being excluded.

As a result, there may be many instances in your life when you wanted to say something…to protect yourself, to protect others, to speak up about something that wasn’t right, or even to simply say how you felt or what you wanted. But instead you shut down and said nothing…like you were conditioned to.

Moving through your fear

Learning to use your voice can trigger an intense fear, especially if you were punished for speaking up as a child or bullied/intimidated by a group of people.

It’s important to learn to move through your fear, and also to be compassionate with yourself as you’re learning this new skill.

Some powerful ways you can use your voice include:

  • Sharing an opinion or idea (what you think about something).
  • Asking for clarification (e.g. when you don’t understand someone’s point of view).
  • Sharing how you feel (e.g. when something is upsetting you).
  • Asking for what you need or want.
  • Telling someone when what they’re doing makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Asking someone to stop what they’re doing (or to do it differently).
  • Saying no.
  • Taking a stand for someone else.

3 steps to overcome fear

Knowing that it can be scary to speak up when you’re used to remaining silent, here are three tips that can help you build your confidence:

  1. Make notes. Begin by making notes about what you want to say. Check out 3 steps to express yourself without conflict for ideas on how to present your thoughts in a way that is likely to be heard and understood.
  2. Practice. Once you know what you want to say, practice in front of a mirror, or with someone you trust (someone you know will be supportive). Saying the words out will help you to get the jitters out ahead of time (and refine your message).
  3. Visualize the outcome you want. Visualize having the conversation and feeling confident as you use your voice. Imagine the outcome you want to achieve (in other words, set an intention for what you want to have happen, and visualize it going well).

By practicing what you want to say and visualizing the outcome you want, it will be easier to deliver your message calmly and confidently when the time comes.

Say what you need to say

There will always be fear when you first start using your voice, especially if you’ve been conditioned not to. The way through fear is one step at a time. Every time you say something you would have repressed before, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself and your voice will become stronger.

Use your voice. Say what you need to say. The world needs to hear what you want to share…and more importantly, no matter what the response, your spirit needs you to say it.

Good luck – I believe in you!

Resources

For more information on using your voice:

If you are a single woman looking for a tribe of other supportive women, I invite you to join our global community for Empowered Single Women.

Share your thoughts

Have you been afraid to use your voice? What is the first step you will take to move through your fear?

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 empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | May 1, 2020

The positive side of this pandemic

I’m a firm believer that there are blessings in every difficulty, opportunities in every change, and gifts in every challenge.

But here’s the thing…it’s difficult to see the blessings, opportunities and gifts when we’re focused on what’s going wrong.

Of course there are difficulties in our current situation…I don’t think there is anyone unaffected by this pandemic. I won’t elaborate on the difficulties here because the media (and social media) already has that more than covered.

What I’m suggesting is that it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are some good things that are already coming from this pandemic…and many more likely to come.

How good or bad we feel right now isn’t simply a question of what is happening…because we can all interpret the same situation much, much differently (as we can see on social media). It’s a question of what we choose to focus our attention on…the difficulties, or the blessings.

Elevating our perspective

I’ve been thinking a lot since this all began about what is the spiritual significance of this pandemic. And I believe, overall, it’s about raising our consciousness…moving from a state of fear to love, from powerlessness to empowerment, from disconnection to connection, from judgment to compassion, from individual focus to community focus, from nationalist materialism to world-wide humanitarianism.

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone (or every nation) is shifting at the same rate, which is why we’re also seeing lots of fear-based behaviour going on too. But overall, I believe this is a call for us to dig deep and become a better version of who we already are.

As with all challenges, the key to elevating our perspective (to raising our consciousness) is to ask better questions. Instead of “why is this happening” or “when will this end,” we can ask:

  • What are the gifts/blessings during this period?
  • How might this period change things for the better?
  • What is this providing me with the opportunity to do?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What good things in my life was I taking for granted?
  • Who do I want to be during this pandemic?
  • How can I help?

When we ask better questions, we get much more empowering answers and find solutions we couldn’t see when we were focused on the problem.

Focusing on the blessings

Let me share with you the 5 key blessings I see coming from this pandemic (and I’d love for you to comment below and share your ideas too):

  1. Stillness – Being forced into isolation is causing us to slow down, to be less busy, to literally “go within.” In this stillness, we can breathe deeper, hear our own thoughts, re-center our energy, and refocus our lives.

  2. Balance – Let’s face it…there is much in our world that has been out of balance for quite some time. This pandemic is causing us to re-balance our priorities…to decide what REALLY matters most. Many people are recognizing how important things like health, family, friends, community, the environment, and their purpose really is to them. I suspect that many of us will be making much more conscious choices about how we spend our energy, money and time after this.

  3. Healing – Our planet has needed healing for quite some time. The breather our environment is currently getting has been noted in many photographs about dolphins swimming in canals, animals playing on beaches, skies clearing, and ozone holes closing. Our own bodies have been needing healing too, and this time of rest is a good opportunity to give our bodies what they need.

  4. Connection – People are recognizing like never before that we really are one world…we are all connected. The actions we take as individuals literally can impact people around the world. So not only are people connecting virtually with friends and family, many are connecting globally and looking for opportunities to help others like never before. When you hurt, I hurt. When you heal, we all heal.

  5. Innovation – The people and businesses who will do the best through this period are the ones who look at how they can adapt, grow, change, be creative, innovate. I’m seeing such creative uses of technology right now – everything from virtual paint nights to choirs singing virtually to global online concerts. Many businesses have found ways to go online. And many individuals have found creative ways to connect online and adapt to life at home.

Focusing on what we CAN do

When a person first loses the ability to use one or more limbs, there is usually a period of intense mourning for all that is lost…for the activities the person can no longer do. The turn-around point comes when they realize how much is still possible…in other words, when they begin to focus on what they CAN do, not what they can’t.

Coming through this pandemic feeling mentally and emotionally strong requires the ability to adapt…to look at what we can still do (and even what’s become possible that wasn’t before).

Here are some things we CAN do:

  • Call, message, or chat online with friends
  • Connect on social media
  • Participate in online groups
  • Set up a virtual coffee, drink or dinner date
  • Have a virtual games night, dance party, or karaoke night with friends
  • Watch an online concert
  • Take (or teach) a virtual class (art, yoga, exercise, education…so many to choose from!)
  • Get outside and go for a walk or sit in the sun
  • Order in food or get take-out
  • Shop online for supplies (and fun stuff too)
  • Support a local business that is struggling
  • Pick up groceries for someone who’s ill
  • Donate money to food banks or charities
  • Check in on people who are isolated alone
  • Ask others for help if we need it!

There’s no doubt there are some freedoms, activities and people we are missing right now…so let’s use this as an opportunity to realize how fortunate we really are, and a reminder to not take those people and things for granted again.

By focusing on what we CAN do, on what we’re grateful for, on the gifts/blessings/opportunities during this period, we’ll shift our perspective, feel better, and be able to make the most of this period while preparing for the “new normal” afterwards.

Sending you lots of love and positive energy!

Resources

For more information on shifting your perspective and feeling better during this time:

If you are a single woman looking for a greater sense of connection to other single women during this time, I invite you to join our global community for Empowered Single Women.

Share your thoughts

How are you doing in this challenging time? What has helped you feel better?

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 empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | March 31, 2020

Finding your balance in uncertain times

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Wow, a lot sure can change in a month…

A month ago, my yard was buried in snow. I had just started dating again and attended a speed dating event at a restaurant. I was preparing to host my next live workshop in my home. I went to a movie with friends. I was doing yoga at my gym. I was seeing my chiropractor and going for physio regularly. I was packing for a trip to California.

Now, the snow is gone. My trip is cancelled. And the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic due to the Coronavirus.

The streets are empty. Airports are eerily quiet. Everyone is “sheltering in place” and “socially isolating.” Gyms, theatres and restaurants are closed. So are libraries, parks and other public services. Schools are closed and kids are at home. Many people are working from home. Some people are out of work. And still others, deemed “essential,” risk their lives to provide food, supplies and healthcare for the rest of us.

These are strange times…unprecedented really. It’s little wonder we’re feeling off-kilter.

So how do we make any sense of what is happening? And what can we do to feel better?

Begin where you are

When major change happens, it’s important to notice how we’re feeling. That requires tuning into our bodies to see what they’re telling us.

Stop what you’re doing for a moment. Sit down and breathe. Notice any physical sensations in your body. Place your hand on your heart, and ask yourself how you’re feeling. Notice and acknowledge what comes up, without judging, resisting or trying to change it.

You may be feeling a mix of things:

  • fear about you or loved ones getting sick (or dying)
  • panic over losing income
  • sadness about losing access to people and things you love
  • overwhelm at trying to work while homeschooling kids
  • loneliness from living alone or missing loved ones
  • anxiety about what to do in what order
  • uncertainty about when this will all end

It’s important to acknowledge and validate your real feelings, instead of bottling them up and putting on a happy face for the sake of being “positive.” These feelings are completely normal given what is happening around you! So remind yourself that your feelings make sense.

Your feelings aren’t the problem, even if they are “negative.” Problems only arise when we:

  • ignore our feelings (and they explode out of us later)
  • react to our feelings (instead of processing them and choosing what to do)
  • identify with our feelings (and forget our strengths and ability to adapt)

Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Emotions will pass through us if we let them.

If this is an area you struggle with, I encourage you to check out this post on processing your emotions.

Re-center and re-focus

Once you’ve checked in with your body and acknowledged your feelings, it’s time to re-center and re-focus so that we can calm our nervous system, regain equilibrium and feel better.

To re-center, follow these steps:

  1. Slow your breathing – Take a quick breath in, then a long, slow, breath out. Repeat for at least one minute, until you feel your nervous system begin to calm down.

  2. Ground yourself – Place your feet firmly on the floor (the earth is even better), and pretend you have roots growing out of your feet and into the earth, stabilizing you.

  3. Notice your surroundings – Notice the environment you’re in. First, focus on the sights…observe each item fully, as if it’s the first time you’re seeing it. Notice the colour, texture, shape. Next, focus on the sounds…notice the ones really close to you, then further away, then as far away as you can hear. By focusing on your immediate surroundings, you are re-focusing on the present moment.

  4. Remind yourself you’re safe – Anxiety is future-based…it’s caused by imagining worst-case scenarios instead of what’s right in front of us. Remind yourself that you’re alive, you’re healthy, you’re safe. And that’s enough for right now.

  5. Focus on what is good – Think about what is still good in your life…the people, freedoms, things you still have, the activities you can still enjoy. Make a list, as big as you can. This will help your brain shift out of negativity and into a more positive focus.

For more help with re-centering and re-focusing, check out this post on What to do when life gets you down.

Elevate your perspective

Once you’ve calmed your nervous system and are feeling more centered, it’s time to connect with your higher self (your spirit) and elevate your perspective…from one of powerlessness, to one of resourcefulness and empowerment.

Follow these steps:

  1. Connect with spirit – Close your eyes and connect with your higher spirit, that part of you that is infinite, limitless, and connected to source energy.

  2. Leave your problems behind – Imagine that your spirit is floating up into the sky, away from your problems, to a place that is free, easy and limitless.

  3. Call on your strengths – As you rise above the clouds, remember a time when you overcame a challenge…what strengths did you draw upon? Can you use those strengths again now?

  4. Ask for guidance – Ask your spirit/higher self what advice it has for you now…what is the higher truth about this situation? What is a more empowering perspective about what’s really going on?

  5. Take inspired action – Notice what it is you’re really wanting right now. Ask your higher self what action(s) you can take now to make things better…both for you and for others. Commit to what you think you can do in the next week. Return back to your body.

If you need more help elevating your perspective, check out this post: Unwanted changes: How to let go and move forward.

Take it one step at a time…

Too many people (myself included) try to jump to the positive before they’ve connected with their feelings, calmed their nervous system and re-focused their attention. Be sure you follow the previous steps before trying to “be positive,” otherwise you’ll find yourself sliding back the moment you feel stressed. Truly feeling positive is a process…so give yourself the time you need, and take it one step at a time! 😊

You’ve got this. I have faith in you. You’ve gotten through difficult times before. And you will again. Trust in your ability to figure things out. Trust in the Universe to provide. Trust others to help if you reach out. And trust that, even if things are a little bumpy right now, good things WILL come from this period.

Everything is working out the way it’s meant to…and you will be ok. Just remember to reach out for help if you need it!

Resources

For more information on getting through difficult times:

If you’re looking for a greater sense of connection to other single women during this time, I invite you to join our global community for Empowered Single Women (women only please).

Share your thoughts

How are you doing in this challenging time? What has helped you feel better?

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 empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | March 1, 2020

Getting the love you deserve

With spring in the air, many singles come out of hibernation and turn their attention back to finding love. They have renewed hope that this year, they’ll find the love they deserve…

The dream

And what do most singles say they want?

  • Someone to go on adventures and road trips with…to go hiking and travelling and experience life with.
  • Someone to come home to at the end of the day and fall into their embrace.
  • Someone to share meals and great conversation with, and simply talk about their day.
  • Someone to wake up snuggled next to on a lazy Sunday morning.
  • Someone to get them their morning coffee.
  • Someone who treats them with respect and shows them they care.
  • Someone to share the responsibilities of life with.
  • Someone who supports them in challenging times, and who makes them laugh even when they don’t want to.

The reality

Everyone deserves great love. But not everyone finds it.

What many people find when they go out dating is disappointment. They find people who:

  • haven’t grown up and still don’t know how to make a meal or do laundry
  • just want a hook-up, instead of a long-lasting relationship
  • are good at taking, but not so good at giving
  • are good at talking, but not so good at listening (or taking action)
  • are jealous and controlling, instead of trusting and loving
  • are emotional adolescents, who aren’t capable of having a healthy, happy adult relationship

And inevitably, many people get frustrated with these results, and come to the conclusion that either:

  • There are simply no good people out there who are single.
  • There’s something wrong with them that they’re not finding someone good.

Both of these conclusions are faulty…they are limiting beliefs that will keep you from finding the love you want.

So what is the truth?

How to get what you want

The truth is that we don’t attract what we want…we attract what we believe deep down inside that we can have.

So if your dating results have not gotten you what you want, it’s time to look inside to see what’s getting in your way.

  • If you have faulty beliefs about who you are and what you’re worth, you will not find the love you’re looking for.
  • If you have faulty beliefs about other people, and are afraid to trust that there are kind, loving, generous partners out there who would be a good match for you, then you will also not find the love you’re looking for.

Not because you don’t deserve it. Not because it’s not possible. But because you don’t really, truly believe in your heart that it’s possible for YOU.

Taking action to find a great partner when you don’t believe you can have one is a recipe for disaster. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and down-right exhausting.

Thankfully there is an easier way.

And the easier way is to do the inner work to get your beliefs in alignment with what you want to have before you go out looking for it. It’s to make sure you’re feeling good about yourself and your life before trying to add someone to it.

It might sound like that will take longer (which is why most people skip that part and jump right into the dating world), but it’s really the shortcut to getting the love you deserve with far less effort and much greater success.

If you know you struggle to believe in yourself, or you have trust issues, or you’ve lost faith that you can find a great partner, it’s important to change your beliefs before venturing out dating. Otherwise, you will attract someone who simply proves you right.

And is that what you really want? Somehow, I don’t think so.

So spend some time looking within to find and change your beliefs before dating, and you’ll find the process much more enjoyable…and also find your loving partner much sooner.

Resources

If you could use some help with getting the love you deserve, there are two virtual events coming up that may be of interest to you (both are free):

Share your thoughts

Do you believe you can find the love you deserve?

What do you think is getting in your way?

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 empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | January 30, 2020

Looking for love in all the right places

I’ve spent a lot of my life “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces…

–Johnny Lee

As a young girl, I didn’t feel understood, loved or even liked by my family of origin. There wasn’t a lot of affirmation and support going on…instead, there was a lot of harsh judgments and criticism. As a result, I didn’t have a good sense of my strengths, and didn’t feel particularly lovable.

So like many women, I bought into the promise of the Cinderella story, and thought I just needed to find a man to love me…and then I would feel loved.

And I did find a wonderful man when I was just shy of 20…and he did make me feel loved. Until just after our engagement, he suddenly fell ill with cancer and quickly passed away. The source of my love was gone, and suddenly I felt unlovable again.

So I searched for a new source. Someone else who would make me feel deserving of love and attention. I’d find one, and that would work for a while, until the relationship ended, and then I was back to square one. And on and on it went…

Somewhere along the way, a friend of mine asked me, “Do you love yourself?” And I remember getting choked up, knowing the real answer was “No.” I didn’t really love who I was…I was looking for love outside of me, instead of inside of me.

Why we yearn for love

It’s normal to want love and affection…human beings are wired for connection, so it’s a core part of our make-up to want to be surrounded by loving people.

But when we yearn for love, it’s usually because we did not have our need for love, affection and affirmation consistently met as children. Maybe one parent died or left. Maybe our parents got divorced. Maybe our parents were physically there, but were alcoholics, abusive or neglectful.

Whatever the reason, when our emotional needs are not met in childhood, it creates a strong desire in our psyche to receive the love we deserve. And so we spend the rest of our life chasing after and clinging to anyone who shows us even an inkling of love and affection. Even if they are less than what we really want, we settle, thinking that some love is better than no love.

But is it really?

By the time we reach mid-life, most of us have discovered that having an unhealthy or toxic relationship is not better than being alone. And yet we fear being alone, so we cling to what we know, even if it’s not good for us. Better the devil you know, as they say…

So how do we break free from this vicious cycle?

Where love comes from

When we look at love as something to get from others, we miss the very important truth that all emotion – love or otherwise – comes from within us. Sure, someone can be the object of our attention (and therefore, we think they are “making us” feel loved), but our thinking about that person and the emotions we are feeling come from within.

So does it take another person to feel the emotion of love? The answer is no.

No one can make you feel anything, including loved. And therefore no one can take love away from you. Only your own thinking about a person or situation can do that.

Try this experiment…close your eyes and think of someone you feel pure, healthy love for. Can you feel the emotion in your body? Where do you feel it…in your chest area? What about if you think about something you love about your life, or about yourself…can you feel the emotion of love?

When you open your eyes, you’ll see there is no one here…it’s just you. So where did that feeling come from? Did someone give it to you? No, you created it yourself…you generated it with your own thoughts! And if you did it once, you can do it again, and again and again.

This is a powerful realization…because when you become a creator of love, instead of a consumer of love, you become the source of love…a source that is reliable and never-ending. A source that can’t be taken from you…even if someone dies or leaves.

Loving others

So is it wrong to want someone to love? Of course not. But what we’ve been calling “love” isn’t healthy love. It’s a clingy, addictive kind of love that comes from a place of lack…of fearing there isn’t enough to go around.

Real love is an over-flowing feeling of having more than enough to share. It’s a giving energy (not a taking energy) that comes from a place of abundance…a place of knowing there is more where that came from!

You see, we’ve been getting this love thing wrong for millennia. We have believed that we need to find someone to love us in order to feel loved…and that simply is not true. What we need to do is learn how to create love within ourselves, and give it to ourselves first, then share it with others.

Trying to find someone to love you in order to feel loved is coming from a place of lack. Finding love within you and then sharing with another comes from a place of abundance.

But how do you do this if your needs weren’t met in childhood, and you don’t feel lovable?

Loving yourself

The answer is to learn how to love yourself first.

I used to hate this answer…what on earth does it mean to “love yourself” anyway?

In its simplest form, loving yourself means re-parenting yourself…giving to yourself the things you wished your parents did. It means treating the little girl inside you with the same care and compassion you would offer your own child (or a niece/nephew/student in your care).

It means listening to your own body, and respecting your own limits. Giving yourself the nourishment and rest you need. Affirming for yourself what is good about you. Encouraging yourself to take risks and try new things. Offering yourself care and compassion when you’re struggling. In essence, it means being your own best friend.

It may sound corny to “love yourself,” but this really is the path to personal freedom, and to success in relationships. It puts you in a place where you can really love someone else, without requiring them to make you happy (because you already know how to do this for yourself).

Loving yourself is the best gift you can give to yourself, your kids, your friends, your partner…because when you truly love, accept and nurture yourself, love and joy will naturally flow out of you, and everyone around you will benefit from your positive energy.

More on this topic…

If you’d like to learn more about how to love yourself, I invite you to attend my FREE online masterclass on February 12, called Fall Madly in Love with You.

And if you’re feeling lonely and want to connect with other single women, you can join my free Empowered Single Women Facebook group, where we share ideas on how to love life as a single person and attract real love.

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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. Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 31, 2019

Your 2020 vision

The beginning of a new year is a time of rebirth, when we get to decide what we want to let go of, and what new things we want to create. It’s a time of renewed hope and faith, the opportunity to leave past mistakes and challenges behind, and begin again.

2020 is a very exciting year, because it’s not only the start of a new year, but of a new decade. This gives us the perfect opportunity to take stock of what’s happened in the past 10 years, and what we want to have happen in the next 10.

So let’s harness some of that “fresh new start” energy as we head into 2020, and create a vision for the life we want to live!

Taking stock

Sometimes we’re so intent on getting somewhere that we miss the journey along the way. So let’s take stock of our journey over the past decade.

Think back to where you were at the beginning of 2010, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What major life events happened in the past decade?
  • What happened in your career, at home, in your relationships?
  • What challenges did you overcome?
  • How have you grown?
  • What did you accomplish that you’re proud of?
  • What new people entered your life?
  • How has your life changed since 2010?

Now think about where you are now:

  • What are you not happy about?
  • What are you grateful for?

Creating your 2020 vision

Getting what you want in life doesn’t just happen by accident. It requires creating a conscious intention for what you want, aligning your energy and belief systems with that new possibility, and then taking steps to create it.

As we begin a new year and a new decade, think about what you’d like to have happen. What you identified in the last section that you’re not happy about is what you want to change. What you identified you are happy about is what you want to keep/continue.

Knowing this, write about:

  • What you want to have happen in 2020.
  • Where you’d like to be in your life by 2030.

It helps to simply write freehand at first, and not worry about organizing your thoughts. Just write down anything that comes to mind, that makes you feel joyful, excited, at peace. Include words that describe what you want, and how good it will feel when you get it. Or if you’re a visual person, clip photos out of magazines or online that represent what you most want.

Once you’ve done this, you can organize your goals into 1-year, 5-year and 10-year goals. (See GREAT goals for more help with the goal-setting process.)

The key to accomplishing big goals is to break your goals down into bite-sized, manageable (and measurable) steps. Then take action daily to move towards them, one step at a time.

Enjoy the journey

As you move towards the horizon of your 2020 vision, it’s important to focus on the progress you’re making, not on how far you have to go.

If you focus on the distance between where you are and where you want to be, you’ll psych yourself out and give up before you start. If instead, you write down and celebrate each small step you take and every milestone you reach, and write about it in a daily gratitude journal, your momentum and excitement will build, and it will be easier to see how you’re moving towards what you want.

Too often, we’re in such a rush to get somewhere that we don’t look around and enjoy the scenery as we go. 10 years ago, as I moved into my new home, my kids were 2 and 4. It felt overwhelming to be a single parent of two littles. Now they are 12 and 14…I blinked and they were grown! I feel like I missed enjoying some of that period, so now I’m relishing every moment I have with them before they’re gone. By this time in 2030, they’ll be finished university and likely living on their own, possibly with families of their own.

So as you move towards your goals, be sure to enjoy the ride…because you can experience joy and accomplishment long before you actually reach your destination. Watch a child in the lead-up to Christmas, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. That’s the energy you want to be in as you work towards your vision…an energy of eagerness, excitement, anticipation.

And don’t get too attached to exactly when the things you want show up. There’s nothing worse than being in a car with a child who keeps saying “Are we there yet? It’s taking too long!” It totally takes the joy out of a road trip. (And out of dating, for those of us who are single!)

Keep moving towards your goals and they will manifest, when they’re meant to. It may be next year, or the year after. As long as you remain in the energy of anticipation of your goal’s arrival (“I can’t wait until it gets here!”), you’ll not only feel joyful when it finally manifests, but you’ll have fun along the way too.

Resources

Share your thoughts

What are your goals for the next year / next decade?

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 empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 23, 2019

When Christmas isn’t what you thought it would be…

According to Hallmark movies and ads on TV, Christmas is supposed to be a time of festive merriment, of gifts wrapped in pretty paper, and of celebrating with loved ones.

But what if that’s not how Christmas is turning out for you this year?

I know I’ve had a number of Christmases in the past few decades that haven’t exactly been idyllic… where if I’m telling the truth I was sad, lonely and disappointed. There was the Christmas when my husband Blair was dying, and then my first Christmas without him. Then there was the one after my ex-husband and I split up. And the one after my mom died. And the many in between where I was alone with my kids, without a partner to share the joys and responsibilities of Christmas with.

If this is a good Christmas for you this year, wonderful! Celebrate and enjoy and soak up the love and laughter. Life is precious and we never know how long we get to enjoy our loved ones for.

But if it’s not, don’t feel ashamed to admit it. Don’t feel you have to pretend to be happy when you’re not. It’s ok to allow yourself to feel your real feelings…in fact, that is the best way to heal and get to a place where you’re starting to feel a bit better (not by shaming yourself for not feeling otherwise).

Christmas can be really hard when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one…whether through death, divorce or break-up, or because your loved ones are far away and you can’t be with them. It can be hard when your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would…like when your family is broken in two and you only get your kids for part of the holidays. Or when your health is poor and you’re struggling just to get out of bed.

It can be hard to go through the motions and business of preparing for a holiday that part of you just doesn’t feel like celebrating this year. And it’s ok to feel the way you feel. It’s normal. You’re human. Life doesn’t always play out like a Hollywood movie. And grief and disappointment are tough emotions to handle (and ones we don’t often want to admit or talk about).

So cut yourself some slack if this Christmas isn’t all candy canes and ribbons for you.

Feeling the feels

The path out of pain begins with admitting the truth to yourself, and letting yourself simply sit with your feelings. It can be really helpful to journal about how you feel, or talk to a supportive friend (one who will validate you and not try to talk you out of your feelings).

For me this year, Christmas isn’t exactly what I hoped it would be. I thought I would have a partner to share Christmas with, but things didn’t work out with my dating efforts this year. I thought my father and my brother and his family were going to come join me for Christmas, but they aren’t able to make it. So once again this year, it’s just me and my kids. And while I am very grateful I get to have my kids for a good chunk of the holidays, it’s not the same as the big, boisterous family gatherings I was used to growing up, that I find I still long for.

I’ve also been struggling with an injured knee, chronic pain in my shoulder, and an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion due to the busy pace of my life. So instead of telling myself I “should” be feeling more joyful, I’m allowing myself to admit I feel tired and a bit blue heading into the holidays, and that that’s ok. I’m just fine the way I am.

And so are you.

When you’re wanting to feel better

Once you’ve allowed yourself to process and feel your emotions, you may feel a bit of relief (because you’re no longer resisting how you feel). You may want to continue just feeling what you’re feeling, or you may want to start feeling better.

Having gone through quite a few holidays at this point that weren’t what I wanted them to be, I’ve come up with a simple process for feeling better. That process is:

  1. Feel your real feelings
  2. Decide what you’d like to feel instead
  3. Think of ways you can create the feeling you want to have

We’ve already talked about step one. Step two is simply asking yourself how you’d prefer to feel…for me this year, it’s rested, relaxed, connected and joyful.

Then step three is brainstorming ways you can create that feeling…not by changing what has already happened (i.e. you can’t bring someone back who is gone), but by doing what you can in your current reality to make things as good as they can be.

For example, I’ve been very wiped lately with the demands of my business and life, so I’m taking several days off work where I’ll be offline and just resting and enjoying my kids. I’ve even booked two full days off just for me, where I’ll be in my PJs resting, relaxing, and reading the books I rarely have a chance to read.

And on the days I have my kids, we talked about what we most wanted to do for fun this year, and so we’re going to go downhill skiing, skate the woodland Lac des Loups trail in Quebec, watch the new Jumanji movie, and play board games while eating appetizers on Christmas Eve.

I’ll also reach out to some friends so I feel more connected…I’ve already thrown a Christmas party for friends, and I’ll be attending a potluck PJ party with some lovely ladies, having a friend over for Christmas dinner, and catching up with other friends either in person or on the phone. And my kids and I will make our usual donations to share what we have with others less fortunate than we are.

So while it won’t be the Christmas I originally imagined for this year, it will still be a good one none-the-less. And not because I shamed myself into feeling differently, but because I gave myself permission to admit how I really felt and then took action to make the best of the situation I’m in.

I really thought I’d be celebrating with my partner and extended family this year. And so I still feel a bit sad about that. But it’s also occurred to me that having my kids to myself this year is a blessing, as there may only be a few more years before they have partners and jobs and are off to university. So some quality time just focused on them (which will also be more quiet and give me more time to recharge my batteries) may actually be what I needed all along.

If you are struggling this year, know that you’re not alone. It’s ok to admit you feel sad and lonely and frustrated. It’s ok if you just want to hang out by yourself and not celebrate Christmas. And it’s ok to reach out for help and support and company if you want it.

Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect or Hallmark-worthy to be good. Just ask yourself what you truly want it to be, and do your best with what you have to create something you’d enjoy.

I’m sending lots of love your way, and wishing that peace and joy find you this holiday season.

Resources

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 (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | September 30, 2019

Letting go of what doesn’t serve you…

Autumn is a natural time of letting go and moving on. As the trees release their grip on the multi-coloured leaves that fall softly to the ground, it’s a good opportunity for us to let go of things whose time have passed.

The nature of life is change…nothing stays the same for long. This is true of seasons, relationships, careers, homes, fashion…even our physical bodies. If we embrace the cycles of life…the natural ebb and flow, it becomes easier to adapt and use these cycles to our advantage.

Letting go of the unwanted

This fall, choose to let go of anything in your life that no longer serves or fits you, so you will feel lighter heading into winter. Some categories to consider include:

  • Clothes, toys and household goods – This is a great time to purge your closets of unwanted/unneeded items and give them to others who could use them.

  • Negative thoughts/emotions – Fall is a naturally introspective time, and a period of grieving what is gone. Write down any uncomfortable or “negative” emotions like sadness, frustration and anger in a journal, and allow yourself to purge unwanted feelings so they don’t stay stuck inside your body. You may want to burn or shred these pages afterwards to energetically release what is bothering you.

  • Bad habits – This is also a good time to consider whether there are some habits you need to let go of that are stealing your time, energy and health. (For example, smoking, over-eating, watching too much TV, being on the phone/Internet too much, not exercising, not getting enough sleep.) Focus on establishing a new, healthier habit by the new year!

  • Reminders of past lovers – If you’ve been through a break-up or two, this is a great time to burn old love letters and get rid of reminders of your ex (jewellery, clothing, gifts, etc.).

  • People – Yes, sometimes even people need to go. Fall is a great time to think about who is in your life and whether they are adding value and energy, or draining you. If a relationship can’t be mended, consider putting some distance between you and the person, or ending the relationship altogether. 

This kind of pre-winter purging prevents you from carrying such a heavy load into the darker winter months. It also gives you room to breathe and clears space for new ideas, people, and goals to enter.

Harvesting what is wanted

Fall is also a time of harvesting the fruits of your labour and giving thanks for summer’s bounty. It’s a natural time to consider all the wonderful things that have come to pass so far this year, and feel grateful for the joy that the things, activities and people in your life have brought to you.

I highly recommend writing daily in a gratitude journal to reflect on the many blessings you have, so that as you let go of what you don’t want, you turn your focus to keeping and expanding on what you do.

Wishing you a warm and cozy fall, and a very happy Thanksgiving!

xo Karen

Resources

See also:

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 (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | August 30, 2019

Is it love or infatuation?

Note: If you prefer to watch rather than read, check out the live video I did on this topic: https://vimeo.com/356927859 

I’ve received a few questions from coaching clients lately that make me realize that people are confusing infatuation with love, so I’d like to clarify the difference.

First, let me ask if this has ever happened to you…

You meet someone (in real life or online or even on TV), and see some characteristics you’ve been looking for, and fall “head over heels,” becoming obsessed with what they’re doing, who they’re with, and whether they’re choosing you. And everything else in your life suddenly becomes less important.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

The feelings are so intense, it seems like it must be love. But is it?

Love vs. infatuation

First, let’s look at the differences between love and infatuation…

Infatuation: 

  1. A feeling of passionate desire and euphoria that quickly consumes you 
  2. Characterized by urgency, sexual desire, idealizing, and obsessive thoughts
  3. Defined by a desire to constantly be together and possess the other
  4. Often accompanied by feelings of anxiety, jealousy, paranoia
  5. They are like a drug to you…you can’t focus on anything else or sleep
  6. You start to feel like you’re merging with the other person and can’t live without them
  7. You may make high-risk choices and abandon other relationships
  8. Long-term effect: Quick start/finish (brush fire), feeling empty and alone, obsessing about what was lost, craving a replacement, missing out on present life/relationships
  9. You lose your identity and feel like a shell of who you once were

Love: 

  1. A feeling of deep affection and respect that builds over time
  2. Characterized by patience, knowledge of and desire for the entire person
  3. Defined by a desire to help the other be their best self and be happy
  4. Accompanied by feelings of fondness, affection, respect, generosity
  5. They are like a best friend to you…you want what’s best for them
  6. You each maintain your own identities, interests and relationships
  7. You work together to settle differences and find win-win solutions
  8. Long-term effect: Security, peace, stability, trust, partnership…a stable environment for stepping out into the world, knowing someone has your back
  9. You grow and become a better version of yourself

How to know if it’s love

So when you first meet someone and you feel excited, how can you tell if it’s real love or not? The truth is, you can only REALLY know this over time.

People will say later on it was “love at first sight,” but really, that’s only because their love lasted…so now with hindsight they can say they “always knew.” But in the beginning, you can’t really know for sure.

In the early stages of dating, the chemistry/spark/excitement you feel is infatuation. 

It’s too early to say you truly love someone as you don’t really KNOW them deeply. And it’s too early for them to know they really love YOU.

Have you ever had someone come on too fast? I know I have. One guy told me he loved me within a matter of weeks, and I felt uncomfortable because I knew he didn’t really know me and was in love with his idealized image of me. It didn’t take me long to fall off that pedestal!

And on the flip-side of this, I have twice had crushes on guys who didn’t return my feelings. It seemed like they were perfect for me…and yet they couldn’t be if they weren’t choosing me, because the perfect partner would WANT to be with me! I felt that I loved them, but my love wasn’t returned.

Here’s the thing…if you can’t stop thinking about someone and can’t let them go, that’s not love (even if it feels intense).

Love is based on wanting the other to be happy…and so if their choice is to be with someone else, then really loving them means letting them go so they can have what they want.

I had to do this with the two male friends of mine who I knew for years and cared for deeply, who both chose someone else…loving them meant wanting them to be happy, and trusting I would find the person who looked at me the way I looked at them.

What is not love

Too many people use “love” as an excuse to justify all kinds of unhealthy behaviours:

  • Stalking someone online (e.g. tracking someone on GPS)
  • Stalking someone online (e.g. tracking someone on GPS)
  • Stalking someone in real life (e.g. driving by their house to see who’s car is in the driveway)
  • Obsessing over someone’s every move (e.g. waiting by your phone)
  • Creating “emergencies” to seek out their attention
  • Trying to get between them and a partner
  • Ignoring other important relationships
  • Not meeting your own needs / needing someone else to be happy

These behaviours are not signs of love…they are signs of addiction/infatuation.

Take it slow

Real love takes time to build, like a good fire.

Love requires getting to really know someone deeply, and deciding if you can live with their flaws and idiosyncrasies.

It’s ok to be excited to meet someone you think could be “it.” But don’t let your hormones and excitement cloud your judgment.

In other words, SLOW IT DOWN at the beginning.

Get to know them to see if they fit with what you really want. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for yet another short-term relationship that burns out quickly…and yet another break-up.

What do I mean by slow it down? I mean:

  • Pace yourself…go on a date or two a week (instead of spending every day together).
  • Don’t spend every minute of the day texting / watching your phone.
  • Hold off on sex (ideally for at least a month or two).
  • Hold off on being exclusive and committing your heart to someone you barely know.
  • Get to know the person gradually (instead of investing all your time/energy in them).
  • Keep investing in other areas/relationships in your life (don’t ditch your friends).

Taking it slow is the best way to know if you’ve found the right person for you, and to create a healthy, happy, stable relationship.

Remember…the initial excitement you feel only tells you this person MIGHT be what you’re looking for. Real love requires really getting to know someone, and that takes TIME.

So be patient, and look for the one who fulfills you, not just excites you.

Want to know more?

If you need help learning how to slow things down and create a truly healthy relationship, check out my new free training: Loving without losing: How to attract the love of your life without losing yourself again

Are you feeling lonely, and wanting to connect with other single women? Join our Empowered Single Women Facebook group, where we share ideas on how to love life as a single person and also attract love!

**************

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 (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | May 31, 2019

How to know if they’re a keeper

I’m often asked by the women I coach how they can know sooner if the guy they’re seeing is “one of the good ones” or not.

And the truth is, it takes time.

Certainly, it’s important to listen to your intuition early on – to notice how you feel around the person, not ignore any red flags, and trust what your body is telling you.

But if you’ve chosen wrong before, you may doubt your ability to choose right this time. You may want a guarantee before you invest too much time and effort. And I understand, I’ve felt this way too. It would be so much easier if our dates were labeled “worth the effort” and “don’t bother.”

What I’ve found is that if you take it slow in the beginning―get to know the person gradually and don’t commit too soon―you will figure it out. The biggest mistake I see most women making is rushing in, having sex too soon, giving their heart away and committing to someone they barely know, and then wondering why it didin’t work out.

It didn’t work out because you didn’t really know who you were committing to. You handcuffed yourself to a stranger.

It takes time to get to know someone, to see them in different circumstances so that you can objectively tell if their values, priorities, lifestyle and character work for you. This can’t be done in one month, even if you spend every day together (which I’d suggest you shouldn’t, as you are then neglecting other relationships and priorities in your life).

So don’t rush in. Give it time. Go slow. And watch how the person acts in different situations.

The proof of who a person is lies in their actions, not in their words. Or as I posted recently in my Empowered Single Women Facebook group, “Believe what he does” (reposted below).

Believe what he does

A man will show you who he is, over time.

He may say he’s evolved, or “not like the others.” He may tell you he loves you. He may say he’s trustworthy. But the words he says prove very little.

What matters are his actions. What he actually does. How he behaves. How he treats you. How he treats others.

Observe whether he lives up to his commitments. Whether he is responsible for his life. Whether he gets things done.

Notice how he treats women, staff, people in the service industry, children, animals, the environment.

How does he talk about his ex, his mother, other women in his life? How does he talk to you and about you? Is he kind with his words?

Is he consistent in his communication with you? Does he keep his promises (with you, and with others)? Does he act with complete integrity and honesty?

Is he generous with his time, money, praise, energy? Is he thoughtful with you and with others?

A man will show you who he really is. You just have to give it time and observe.

If you want to avoid making “mistakes,” don’t give your heart (or body) away until you’ve given yourself enough time to see how a man behaves. His actions are the true indicator of whether he’s “evolved” or not.

Words are cheap. Actions are gold. Choose a man who is worth the effort.

(Note: These statements apply to women’s behaviour too.)

Look at past behaviour/relationships

“The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour,” as Doctor Phil says.

So if you want to know whether you’ve got a quality guy, notice when he’s talking about his ex or family or other relationships what he says. Does he speak respectfully about others, even those with whom he’s had a conflict? Does he seem self-aware enough to know what he’s done wrong in his relationships, and not just blame everything on other people?

How does he speak to and about other people? How does he treat the ones he loves?

These things will tell you a ton about who a man really is.

In the first few months of dating, you should be carefully observing, not committing. Have fun, get to know the person, but don’t give your heart and body away until you know the person you’re seeing is worth such an investment.

Share your thoughts!

What signs of a keeper do you look for when dating?

Resources for further learning

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Karen Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. 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 and create a life they love so they attract (and keep) their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and dating workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

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