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

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

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.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 29, 2019

Loving without losing yourself

Have you ever gone through a break-up or divorce and felt completely crushed, devastated, shattered?

It feels like your whole world has been turned upside down. Like nothing will ever be the same again. Like there’s nothing stable to lean on. Like you don’t even know who you are any more.

Break-ups are no fun, that’s for sure. And losing someone you love (or once loved) and shared a life with is a big change…it changes where you live, how much money you have to spend, who you have to rely on, who you spend time with.

So it’s normal to feel uncertain and confused about which way is forward when a relationship ends.

How, then, can we open our hearts to love again, without fearing the same kind of emotional devastation if the relationship doesn’t end up lasting a lifetime?

Over-investing in romantic love

In my line of work, I see so many truly amazing women crushed by relationships that end. (And I have felt that way myself…like after my husband died when I was only 22.) Of course, grief and fear are to be expected in the wake of so much change. But does complete devastation have to be?

Much of the reason why many women completely fall apart after a relationship ends is because they’ve over-invested in that relationship. In other words, they’ve placed all their “eggs” (energy, attention, time) in one basket, and not placed enough in other equally important baskets.

After all, there are many sources of love – kids, friends, family, community, self. Romantic love is just one form. But in North American culture especially, we tend to focus almost exclusively on the idea of finding “one person” to love and live our lives with.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to want a romantic partner. I want one too. I’m just suggesting that perhaps we’re focusing so much on that one source of love that we’re neglecting other, equally important sources.

I don’t know how many times I see women ditch their girlfriends the second they begin a new relationship. (I admit I’ve done this myself.) Imagine how those friends feel…the message we are giving them is that they’re only important until someone better comes along.

I also see countless women ditching their own goals, dreams and passions the second a man comes along. Suddenly, they’re no longer interested in doing things that used to bring them joy. Everything becomes about doing things as a couple, and about what he wants to do. No wonder women have the sense of losing themselves – they literally are!

Of course there needs to be some give and take in a relationship, and to compromise occasionally. But if you are sacrificing your goals, dreams and identity in order to be with someone, I’d suggest that’s too high a price to pay.

After all, in the end, the only person we can be sure will be with us until death is ourself. So we’d better make sure that all-important relationship is solid!

From dependence to interdependence

In our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations, relationships weren’t really about happiness…they were about survival. A man needed a woman to create a happy home and look after the children. A woman needed a man to provide for and protect her and the kids. Each had a role to play, and each was dependent on the other.

The problem with this model is that if you base your happiness on another person, when they inevitably change or do something you don’t like, you suddenly become unhappy (and there is little you can do about your unhappiness without trying to control the other person). Since happiness is sourced externally, it is outside of your control.

Today, a lot has changed. Most women are perfectly capable of providing for themselves. And most men know how to care for children and run a household. No longer are we dependent on each other for survival. We have moved into a state of independence.

Independence is a definite step forward, but it has also resulted in a lot of failed relationships, and in a skittishness around commitment. We have a lot of people wanting a romantic relationship, but fearful that having one means giving up freedom and independence.

Thankfully, there is a third level that I believe as a society we are moving towards.

Stephen Covey talks about three stages of maturity in relationships:

  1. Dependence – Each person is dependent on the other for happiness and survival (you meet my needs, or else I’ll blame you for my unhappiness). This is the level of the child.

  2. Independence – Each person is dependent on themselves for happiness / survival (I can do it myself / I am responsible and self-reliant). It is a stage of self-sufficiency, but also sometimes leads to loneliness. This is the level of the teenager.

  3. Interdependence – Each person makes themselves happy, but also chooses to come together to create something greater than what’s possible alone (we can cooperate, combine our talents and resources). This is the level of the mature adult.

It’s this desire for interdependence that has us wanting to continue to couple, despite having experienced and witnessed the challenges of being in the dependent and independent phases.

A new paradigm for relationships

What if we can create a new paradigm for our relationships? One that is based on interdependence? One where male and female energy is balanced within each person and between both people?

For this to happen, we first have to move from dependence to independence…from requiring the other to make us happy, to knowing how to do that for ourselves. This involves creating a stable base within our own lives and within ourselves, so that we can truly say we love who we are and we love the life we are living (independent of a romantic partner).

Then, we need to learn how to be in relationship with others without extracting energy from them or losing our own. To do this, we need to become adept at sourcing our energy from source energy (meditating, praying, journaling, communing with nature), and at coming into energetic alignment on own own. In other words, we need to be able to consciously change our emotional state and “make ourselves happy” without needing someone else to do that for us. We must take complete responsibility for our actions, thoughts, and reactions, and do the inner work required to be mature adults in our relationships with others.

In this new paradigm of relationship, each person has enough freedom to continue to be who they really are…to pursue their goals, dreams and passions. Gone is the need to contort oneself to please the other. And gone is the need to “make our partner happy,” because they already know how to do that for themselves. Instead, there is a coming together of two people whose cups are already overflowing with joy, creating a “happiness soup.”

Of course, challenges will arise in any relationship. Relationships are the perfect mirror to show us what still needs healing within ourselves. But in an evolved, interdependent relationship between two conscious people, those conflicts will be resolvable. Both individuals will know how to calm their emotional reactions, and come together to brainstorm a solution that is truly win-win.

Creating a stable base

If you want to create a truly interdependent relationship and love someone without losing yourself, it really begins with you. You must first transition (if you haven’t already) from stage 1 to 2…from blaming the other for your unhappiness to taking complete responsibility for how you feel and creating a life that you truly enjoy, one that’s based on your passions and values and desires.

With this stable base, you will be able to enter into a relationship with someone and maintain your center and independence, even when there are challenges.

The key to being in successful relationships with others (all others, not just romantic partners) is to know what you want and be confident in who you are so that you don’t collapse your identity and merge with the other. When you are centered in yourself, you can freely share who you are with others and co-create a new entity (the relationship) without losing your own individuality. It’s like building something using independent Lego pieces, instead of welding something together that can no longer be separated.

The world is changing, and relationships are evolving quickly. Interdependence will eventually become the new paradigm…and I believe our world will be a better place because of it. But it starts with leaving behind our overly dependent ways, and becoming truly responsible for our own life and happiness.

Wishing you lots of love, joy and harmony in all your relationships!

Share your thoughts!

Which stage of relationship have you experienced?

Resources for further learning

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.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 13, 2019

When you wish upon a star…finding the love you long for

There’s a big difference between longing for something, and setting a conscious intention to have it.

Let me explain…

Many of the women I work with have been hurt. Badly. Hurt by people they thought would love them. Betrayed, abused, and rejected by the ones they entrusted their heart and soul to.

And now they are afraid of the same thing happening again.

So they stop trying. Stop hoping. Stop dreaming.

They tell themselves it’s better to accept their fate than to feel the pain of wanting more, and never having it.

This truly breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see someone giving up on what they really want, because they no longer believe it’s possible.

Don’t get me wrong…I completely support a woman’s empowered choice to be happy on her own. In fact, I encourage my clients and friends to spend time being single…to learn how to stand on their own two feet, and create a life they love, and learn how to make themselves happy. For it’s from this place of empowerment that happy, healthy, conscious relationships are created.

And some people are truly happier on their own. But many people…if they are admitting what their heart is calling them towards…really want a loving, committed relationship.

The challenge is, when you really really want something, but you think it’s out of your reach, it feels painful. And no one likes pain. So we tell ourselves we didn’t really want it anyway.

But denying our true desires is not the path to enlightenment, or true happiness.

Because when we see that cute old couple holding hands on the park bench…or when we attend our uncle and aunt’s 50th wedding anniversary…or when we watch a new couple exchange wedding vows, we feel a pang of envy in our hearts. And that’s telling us that we want something more.

Sure, one way to deal with the gap between what you want and where you currently are is to tell yourself you don’t want anything. There is some wisdom in enjoying the present moment just as it is, regardless of our current circumstances.

AND there is truth in the fact that human beings are wired for progress…to want more. And we’re wired for connection…to want love.

Now romantic love is certainly not the only form of connection…but it’s a form that many people want. And if you are one of the ones secretly wanting it, but pretending you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And you’re doing the person eagerly looking for someone like you a disservice.

If what you really, truly want is a committed relationship, the answer is not to say (as so many of the women I work with do), “I’m not really looking, but if it happens, it happens.”

I hate to be frank here, but that energy is not the energy that will draw your ideal partner to you. Prince Charming is not going to suddenly ride up to your doorstep while you’re hiding away watching Netflix in your PJs. You have to decide you want it. And open the door to the possibility.

An awesome client of mine reminded me today of the song “When you wish upon a star,” and I looked up the lyrics. Generally, I prefer to encourage people to set an intention for what they want, not to “wish” for it (wishing usually implies passivity).

But the song actually does get it right when it says “If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” If you want something, and your heart is in it (i.e. you believe you can have it), then anything really is possible.

If, on the other hand, you long for something but don’t believe it’s possible, it can’t come your way. Not because you’re not good enough or don’t deserve it. But because you’re blocking it energetically (longing is a focus on the lack of something, not the presence of it).

So if what you really want is love, how do you attract that?

By changing your belief that it’s possible. And trusting that you can have it. And knowing that your past experience doesn’t need to repeat itself, once you’ve moved beyond it. And choosing to believe there are good people out there.

So if what you really want is to find love, stop pretending you don’t just to make yourself feel better. Embrace your desire. Open to the possibility.

And if you need a little help doing this, then I invite you to join me for the Soulmate Attraction Summit, a special live transformational event on May 4-5 that will help you believe in love again.

www.soulmateattractionsummit.com

This is truly a life-changing event, the only one of its kind in Canada (and the only time I’ll be holding it this year). You are being offered a tremendous opportunity to change your “fate” and fulfill your dream of finding love…please don’t miss your chance.

Take a step towards what you want…and watch the magic happen.

You deserve love. And you can have what you want. I hope you will join me so I can show you how.

❤ Karen 

P.S. Use the special discount code SASFRIENDS for $100 off the current (already low) ticket price…but only until Friday, April 19. (And only until we run out of seats…we are almost 70% sold out already.)

Posted by: silverliningsblog | March 2, 2019

How to improve your dating experience

What’s the difference between loving to do something, and hating it?

It’s usually a question of focus.

Sure, there are some activities we’re more naturally drawn to than others. Some suit our personalities, interests, and preferences better.

But when it comes to things we kinda sorta hafta do, loving or hating it boils down to how you’re looking at it.

Let’s take housework as an example. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who LOVES housework. But I do know people who resist it like the plague (you know, the ones who can lose their children in their mountains of unwashed laundry, and the ones who have killer dustbunnies you’re genuinely afraid of).

And I know people (myself included) who don’t mind it so much.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m no Molly Maid, and I also sometimes let my housework pile up. I’d far rather be outside with my kids enjoying nature, or out having fun with my friends. And I’ve hired a cleaner to do housework for me before (delegating things you don’t want to do can be a healthy strategy).

But when there’s something I need to do (like my housecleaning today), I’ve discovered there are ways to actually enjoy tasks that aren’t my favourite.

Like putting on my favourite yoga clothes and treating it as a workout, seeing how fast I can get it done. And involving my kids, to split up the work and do it as a team. And cranking up the tunes so we can be silly and dance in between. And rewarding ourselves by going to a movie when it’s done.

I think all of us enjoy the result of having a clean house. But none of us love to do it. Unfortunately, when we resist the process, we turn it into something that’s intolerable, that we avoid doing. When we can find a way to turn it into a game or make it more enjoyable, it doesn’t feel like such a chore.

What we focus on expands

Another common example of this principle is dating. Again, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who LOVES dating. But there are people who manage to enjoy it, and people who absolutely dread it.

What’s the difference? Is it that some people are more extroverted than others? Perhaps. But the real difference is where we place our focus.

If we choose to focus on the negative…the weirdos online, the dick pics, the catfishers, the jerks only looking for sex, the awkward conversations, the sweaty palms, the dates that don’t work out…then we’re automatically going to feel bad. Why? Because those things are not what we want. And when we focus on what we don’t want, we feel bad. We also attract more of that to us (since what we focus on expands).

So stop doing that! 🙂 And stop complaining to your girlfriends about it (laughing and making light of it is perfectly ok, however).

If instead, we choose to focus on the positive…the interesting people we meet, the humour in awkwardness and first date jitters, the fascinating conversations about new ideas, the new restaurants and activities we get to try, the vision of the kind of relationship we want, the excitement of possibly meeting our soulmate…then we’ll start feeling much better and more upbeat. I mean, doesn’t this paragraph just FEEL better than the negative one?

And because we’re focusing on what we want, we’ll feel more upbeat and hopeful, and we’ll draw more good people and experiences to us.

Shift your focus, shift your results

If dating is something you dread (like most people), it’s important to find a different perspective, a different focus…a way to come into energetic alignment with the process of dating BEFORE going out there.

If you go out there feeling negatively, you’ll attract negative people and experiences.

If you shift how you’re feeling first (which starts by shifting what you’re focusing on), you’ll start attracting a different calibre of date and enjoy the process more.

So if you’re feeling a little nervous about dating because it’s new, or frustrated with it because you haven’t been having good results, you’re in good company. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But do  change your focus and your feelings before heading back out there so you get better results.

If you’d like to learn more about how to do this and practice the principles I’m talking about here, I invite you to join me for my free Feel GREAT when you date! 5-day Challenge.

Wishing you lots of luck and positive experiences in life and love!

Share your thoughts!

What frustrates you about dating? What makes it easier for you?

Resources for further learning

If you need help with dating this year, I invite you to virtually attend my free online masterclass, Dating Demystified!

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

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 their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free empowering resources and workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | February 1, 2019

Overcoming loneliness by finding your tribe

It happens to most of us at some point, especially after a break-up or the loss of someone dear…we look around, notice the empty space, hear the pounding silence…and suddenly feel alone.

And not the good kind of alone (the kind where you love having your freedom and time to yourself). But the ugly kind of alone…the kind where you wish you weren’t.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but we all know the feeling…that aching longing in our heart for someone to talk to. To spend time with. To laugh with. To hug and snuggle up on the couch with. To share experiences and day-to-day life with.

Someone who cares how your day went. Someone to be silly with and laugh until your face turns red. Someone to cry with and feel supported by. Someone to hang and chill with. Someone to step outside your comfort zone with and go on adventures. Someone to share meals and interesting conversation with. Someone to call spontaneously because you have great news to share, or just because you just need to talk.

And not just someone…but someone special. Someone who gets you, who likes you, who appreciates you, who enjoys your company…and you equally dig them.

While few people like to admit it, we all feel lonely sometimes…it’s part of the human experience. These feelings are normal, and are a reflection of our human need for connection with others. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with us…it just means we’re needing more healthy human contact.

The loneliness “epidemic”

In recent years, media around the world have described loneliness as an “epidemic.” Recent studies suggest that loneliness is on the rise, with rates of loneliness doubling in the U.S. in the past 50 years.

According to Cigna’s U.S. Loneliness Index (May 2018), almost half of the 20,000 respondents reported feeling alone, left out, and isolated. One in four Americans shared that they rarely feel understood, and only about 18 percent of participants believe that there are people they can communicate with.

So if you’ve been feeling alone, you’re not alone.

Loneliness in and of itself isn’t a problem…it’s a normal human emotion that is usually temporary and will pass. But when loneliness becomes a chronic state, that’s when both mental and physical health problems arise.

Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • suicide
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • dementia

A recent CBC article says that:

“Chronic loneliness is as harmful to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is even more damaging to your body than obesity and diabetes, and has been linked to high blood pressure, dementia and premature death.”

But don’t hit the panic button if you’re feeling lonely…loneliness is simply an indicator that something needs to change for you. What’s important is to do something about it so that it doesn’t become a chronic condition that negatively impacts your health.

Causes of loneliness

It seems ironic that loneliness is on the rise, since digitally, we are more connected than ever before.

So what’s causing this trend?

Here’s what some of the most recent studies suggest:

  • social isolation (when a person has a restricted social network and limited social contact – e.g. a senior living in a nursing home, a student living away from home, a single mom living alone, an entrepreneur working alone, someone who recently moved to a new city)
  • poor social skills
  • working too much (which results in less time to spend doing social activities)
  • more people living alone (according to Statistics Canada, 28 per cent of households had only one person living in them in 2016)*
  • the rise of social media (which may mean that people spend less time socializing in person)**  

*It’s important to note that living alone does not necessarily lead to loneliness. Many single people are happy living alone, especially those with well-developed social networks. And we all know you can live with people and still feel lonely. The issue appears to be more with people who don’t want to be living alone.

**It’s interesting to note that the Cigna Loneliness Index found that social media use was not a significant factor in loneliness. However, other studies show that the more time a person spends on social media (more than two hours/day), the more likely he/she will feel socially isolated. Conversely, those who logged on for half an hour a day felt less lonely. Which makes sense…social media can be a great tool for connecting with others and feeling less isolated, when used in moderation. But if you’re spending hours a day on your phone, you are likely avoiding socializing in person. So balance is key!

I’d also like to suggest a few other causes not discussed in studies…

First, there is spiritual loneliness. Spiritual loneliness generally means feeling disconnected from source energy (by whatever name you choose to call it…God, Allah, Great Spirit, the Universe, Source, etc.). It’s like floating on a boat at sea, with no port to return to. Or running on a battery with no power source to plug into to recharge.

Related to this is a disconnection from ourselves…not being comfortable in our own skin and enjoying our own company. It’s caused by focusing on our human failings, and forgetting our spiritual nature (that part of us that is powerful and can rise above anything).

And finally, there’s the Ugly Duckling phenomenon. As the short version of the story goes, the Ugly Duckling is rejected and taunted by his peers (ducks and geese), because he looks very different from them (and therefore “ugly”). Later on in the story, he discovers that the reason he didn’t fit in was because he was actually a swan, and had been trying to fit in where he didn’t belong.

I know I’ve experienced the Ugly Duckling phenomenon in my life, and often felt I didn’t fit in. And the truth was that I didn’t belong where I was…I wasn’t with my tribe of people. So if you are also feeling like you don’t really fit in, it’s very important to find your tribe of swans…that group of people who accepts you as you are and makes you feel “normal.”

It’s also important to know, accept, and be who you truly are…others can’t accept you if you don’t accept you. Be authentically you wherever you are, so that your tribe can find you.

Solutions for overcoming loneliness

Ultimately, loneliness results from a need for more and better-quality human connection that is not being met (and I’d argue spiritual connection as well). So the ultimate solution involves finding suitable people to spend time with, as well as ways to connect spiritually.

I’d like to note here that a mistake I see many single people making to “cure” their loneliness is to rush out to find a partner, and settle for anyone who looks their way.

Romantic love is only one form of love…there are many others. You’ll be far better off in the end if you take some time on your own to get to know yourself better, and develop a high-quality social circle in order to feel connected, rather than fling yourself in the arms of the wrong person.

Once you’re feeling connected with some good-quality relationships, you’ll be able to take your time finding a romantic partner, and will be less likely to make a mistake because you’re rushing to fill a void.

Some ways to reduce loneliness include:

  • connecting with co-workers at work
  • finding a community to be part of (school, church, volunteer, activist, social, online)
  • joining social groups and attending events
  • using social media in moderation to connect with others (not just aimlessly browsing)
  • finding a way to connect spiritually (church, synagogue, temple, meditation, prayer, nature)
  • developing a healthy relationship with yourself (treating yourself like your own best friend)
  • creating enough balance in your life (between work, friends and family, romantic partner, time for yourself, time to rest and recharge)

How to find your tribe

So how do you “find your tribe” if you’re wanting to find new and more like-minded people to interact with?

  1. Community groups/events – One way is to look around your city/town for community groups and activities that resonate with you and join. Look at posters on bulletin boards, community newspapers, or ask around.

  2. Volunteer organizations Find an organization looking for volunteers and join. It’s a great way to meet new people, feel connected, and also feel a greater sense of purpose through giving back!

  3. MeetUp MeetUp is another great way of finding people with similar interests – it’s an online tool that lets you search for groups of people in your area who share a common interest in a certain type of activity. Once you join a few MeetUp groups that interest you, you will be notified of events and can attend to meet people.

  4. Facebook communities Facebook groups are another way of finding friends around the world. You can join a local Facebook group, or a global group to find people with common interests to interact with online (these interactions can lead to friendships in real life too).

  5. Create your own! And finally, if you can’t find a group you like, create one like I did! 🙂

Join us!

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):

Final thoughts…

If you’ve been feeling lonely, I’d like to leave you with these final thoughts:

  • Loneliness is normal. And it’s treatable. 🙂
  • If it’s only once in a while, just sit with your feelings, acknowledge them, and allow them to pass. Then do something you love to shift your focus.
  • If you feel lonely a lot, reach out and find others to spend time with. You don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be!
  • Finally, show interest in others…you’d be surprised how many people feel just as lonely as you!

You are an amazing person and deserve to be surrounded by people who understand and support you. So keep looking until you find your tribe of swans!

Share your thoughts!

What do you do to overcome loneliness?

Resources for further learning

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

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 easily attract their dream partner. Check out Karen’s free workshops and inspirational resources at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 31, 2018

5 steps to jump-start your year!

woman-690118_1280The beginning of a new year is a natural time to reflect on our lives…to ask ourselves if things are going the way we want them to, and if not, to decide what to do about it.

I truly believe life is meant to be joyful, and when it’s not, it’s a sign that something needs to change.

So if last year was a rough one for you, I encourage you to consciously choose to make this year different. To raise your standards for your love life, your health, your career, your home life. To decide to feel better, and to take the actions you’ve been putting off that you know will move you forward.

Here are 5 steps you can take to help you get going on the right foot and make this a great year.

1.   Reflect

Start by setting some time aside (at least an hour or two) to think about how last year went, and how your life is going in general.

Ask yourself how happy you are in each of these areas of your life, on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 = miserable to 10 = completely happy):

  • Health & wellbeing
  • Career & contribution
  • Finances
  • Home & family life
  • Relationships (friends, co-workers, relatives, spouse, society)
  • Leisure & social time (what you do for fun & relaxation)
  • Personal growth & spirituality

2.   Release

In each area of your life, ask yourself if there is something you can let go of to make space for more of what you want instead.

Here are some examples in each category:

  • Health & wellbeing – let go of the habit of eating after 7 pm
  • Career & contribution – delegate work you don’t enjoy to someone else
  • Finances – look for ways to reduce bills/spending
  • Home & family life – purge your home and give away unwanted items
  • Relationships – end toxic relationships
  • Leisure & social time – reduce TV/cell phone/Internet use
  • Personal growth & spirituality – write down worries and burn them to release them to the Universe

3.   Give thanks

Again in each area, make note of what has been going well…of what you are grateful for. Gratitude is one of the highest vibrational energies there is, and what you focus on expands, so the more grateful you feel, the more good things you will attract to you.

Some examples might include:

  • Health & wellbeing – I am grateful I can walk and run!
  • Career & contribution – I appreciate the people I get to work with.
  • Finances – I am grateful for my home, and for heat and electricity.
  • Home & family life – I am grateful for my children’s laughter.
  • Relationships – I appreciate my fun friends.
  • Leisure & social time – I am grateful my city has so many cool events.
  • Personal growth & spirituality – I am grateful I am learning to set better boundaries.

4.   Create new goals

Now that you’re in touch with what you don’t want (#2) and what you already love (#3), it’s time to set goals to help you move the needle upwards on your happiness level (#1) in each of the areas in your life.

I’d suggest setting one goal for each category. Something that is big enough that it substantially increases your happiness, but small enough that you believe it’s achievable. Be sure to include why you want to achieve the goal (i.e. how you want to feel).

For example:

  • Health & wellbeing – I will exercise 3 times each week, so I feel fit and healthy.
  • Career & contribution – I will actively look for a new job, so I find work that is meaningful.
  • Finances – I will save $100 / month in an RRSP, so I can have a carefree retirement.
  • Home & family life – I will repaint the house, so my home feels like an oasis.
  • Relationships – I will plan a weekend retreat with my girlfriends, so I can rest and relax.
  • Leisure & social time – I will take salsa dancing lessons, so I feel passionate and alive.
  • Personal growth & spirituality – I will meditate for 15 minutes each day, so I feel connected to the Universe.

For more support in how to set goals, please see: GREAT goals: How to get what you want this year.

5.   Take inspired action!

It’s not enough to set goals…we have to actually take action to achieve them!

So choose one of your goals, and decide on an action you can take this week (ideally today) to move towards it. You don’t have to accomplish the entire goal…you just need to take that first step.

Once you’ve done that, take another step. Then another. This is how goals are achieved…with focused attention, and regular action.

Wishing you an amazing year, filled with love, joy and abundance!

Share your thoughts!

What are your favourite ways of starting off the new year?

Resources for further learning

If you need help with goal setting this year, reach out!

Or check out my free online masterclass, Your Most Awesome Year Ever! on January 3!

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

IMG_1956a_5x7Karen 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 turn their heartbreak into a breakthrough, feel great, and create a life they love, so they attract their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources and dating workshops at www.karenstrangallen.com.

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: