Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 27, 2016

GREAT goals: How to get what you want this year!

“Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t turn out – take another shot.”

—Author Unknown

Sun and orb

So you’ve done the New Year’s resolutions thing and set goals for yourself before (at least in your mind 🙂 ). And maybe you’ve even achieved some of them. But for some reason, your biggest dreams just haven’t come true, at least not yet.

What if I told you there is a better feeling way to set goals, pursue your dreams, and ensure this is your best year yet?

Why don’t people get what they want?

In my coaching, training, and 15 years of research, I have discovered three main reasons why people don’t get what they want:

  1. They aren’t clear about what they want.
  2. They don’t believe they can have it/aren’t patient in waiting for it.
  3. They don’t consistently take action to achieve it.

If you could have anything you wanted in your life, what would that look like? What would it feel like? Taste and smell like? If you can answer these questions with clarity, you’re a good chunk of the way towards getting what you want. If can’t, circumstances or other people will decide the course of your life for you.

Meanwhile, do you trust and believe you can have what you want and create the life of your dreams? If you do and you maintain your focus and positivity consistently, what you want will come to you eventually, when it is meant to. If you don’t, then you have some work to do on your belief system.

Lastly, are you taking regular, consistent action to make your dreams come true? Are you acting on what you want, and on the opportunities the Universe is putting before you? If you are, your dreams will manifest in due time. If you aren’t, what’s stopping you?

But I have bad luck…

You may have experienced challenging circumstances. You may even have experienced more challenges than most people. But your circumstances don’t define who you are, what you can have, and what you can do…you do. You are far more powerful than you realize.

When I think of the people I admire most, they have all had very difficult circumstances to overcome. Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, Neale Donald Walsch, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield…every one of these now famous and rich people had to overcome the initial “bad luck” they had…everything from a severely abusive childhood to extreme poverty to a broken neck.

And they each now say that those difficult experiences are part of what has made them so successful today.

You can also rise above your circumstances, see the blessings that have come from them, and create the life you really want. A life that gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning!

One thing is for sure: this time next year, you’ll have had 365 days to do something with your life, just like the rest of us. The question is…how well will you use those days?

Getting what you want out of life

012Creating a life you love really starts with a decision – a decision to experience more love, joy, and abundance this year.

Several years ago, I had more than my share of challenges. I had two young children whom I loved, but struggled to enjoy being a stay-at-home mom. I lacked confidence after several years out of the workforce with no income. I was not happy in my marriage. And I had lost touch with who I was and what I enjoyed in life.

Then in October 2009, a friend gave me a birthday card that read, “Make this your best year ever!” I got chills down my arms, and decided in that moment that I would do exactly that. It’s amazing how one simple decision can create so much of an impact!

A year later, I had peacefully ended my marriage, bought a beautiful new home for myself and my kids, and was excelling at my new writing consulting business. I also had a new network of wonderful friends and was having more fun than I’d had in years. All because of one tiny…but momentous…decision.

So how about you…are you ready to make 2017 your most awesome year ever?

Why don’t people stick to their goals?

“Momentum that has resistance in it causes you to try too hard.”
– Abraham Hicks

Deciding to have a great year is a terrific start. But creating goals that feel good and that you’ll actually follow through on is even better. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to actually enjoy taking action on your goals?

Many people create goals but don’t stick to them. Why is that? It’s because they try to force themselves to do something that doesn’t feel good, that feels like work. And if it doesn’t feel good, the motivation to continue just isn’t there.

Why doesn’t it feel good? Because they:

  • do what they think they should do, instead of what they really want to do
  • focus on the “when and how,” instead of the “what and why”
  • have a limiting belief that they can’t have what they really want
  • haven’t lined up their energy with the vibration of what they want
  • aren’t stopping to appreciate how much they have already accomplished
Dream Journal

The journal I use to record my dreams and goals.

G.R.E.A.T. goals

“The world makes way for those who know where they are going.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Setting goals helps you focus your energy and resources on what you want, so that you live your life by choice, not by chance. But a lot of traditional goal setting gets people to focus on the wrong things.

I have been setting goals for myself for many, many years. I think I was born with a pen and notebook in my hand, writing down my aspirations and “to do” lists. (I guess you could say I am a bit of an over-achiever.) And I have had reasonable success setting what you may know as “S.M.A.R.T.” goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound).

But I found that by being so precise in my goal setting (and arbitrary in my deadlines), I got discouraged whenever I missed meeting a goal in the exact time or way I thought I should, and I discounted any progress I had made. I missed opportunities that weren’t part of my rigid plan, and stressed too much about “how” to make things happen instead of enjoying the process.

In the past few years, I have been using energetic goal setting (or goal setting on steroids, as I like to call it). And my life has been moving forward at a dizzying pace as I attract what I want much, much faster.

I have published a book, launched a coaching and speaking business, hosted a phenomenal women’s retreat, and created an online course. I have attracted many wonderful new friends into my life, and an amazing new partner. I have had tons of fun with my kids, traveled to several gorgeous destinations, and made quality time for myself. I even paid off my car two years early!

The key thing I have learned is that it’s the feeling you have when you create the goal that really counts. So I created a new acronym to represent this new “energetic” method of goal setting (who doesn’t love acronyms?!). I call them “G.R.E.A.T.” goals:

Click on each link to look at each of these steps more closely.

And please join me for my free webinar on December 29, where I will help you create your most awesome year ever!

Wishing you all the best in 2017!!

Karen Strang Allen


Karen Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is also 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 themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 23, 2016

Staying sane over the holidays

16-12-23-holiday-lanternsNote: This is an updated version of a post originally published in December 2014.

The holiday season can be such a wonderful time…tasting terrific food, giving and receiving gifts, celebrating with people we love.

But it can also be very stressful…last-minute shopping and preparations, family members who push our buttons, unfulfilled expectations.

So what is the best way to stay sane over the holidays, and remain centered no matter what?

Follow these five steps if you’re feeling frazzled and want to re-connect with your higher self. (You know, the self who isn’t freaking out because you burned the cookies, your kids destroyed the house, and your Aunt Mabel had a little too much eggnog and is now doing the Bird Dance.)

Think you don’t have time? That’s exactly when you need to do this the most. Don’t worry…you can re-center yourself in as little as five minutes.

1.    Breathe

“Relax. Nothing is under control.”
— Buddha

When we are stressed, our breathing gets very shallow. Stopping to breathe more deeply can quickly reduce our heart rate and cortisol levels. (It can also keep us from turning blue with frustration.)

Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Fill your belly and chest completely, and pause at the end of each inhale and exhale. Do this for at least 5 breaths.

2.    Ground yourself

When I’m feeling frazzled, it’s almost always because I’m focused on some drama inside my head or trying to control something I can’t control (like Aunt Mabel’s egg nog consumption). I find reconnecting with my body and grounding my energy back to the earth to be very calming.

Try this short grounding exercise:

1. Stand strong. Stand with your feet on the ground, your hands on your heart.

2. Breathe. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

3. Root to the ground. Imagine roots coming out the bottom of your feet and running into the ground, deep into the center of Mother Earth. Imagine warm, loving, compassionate, nurturing feminine energy flowing up into your body.

4. Connect to the sky. Next, imagine that there is a stream of light coming from the center of your head and connecting you with Father Sun. Imagine receiving strength, purpose, determination, and courage from your masculine energy source.

5. Balance your energies. Now imagine that your feminine and masculine energies merge together in the center of your body at your heart, and that they are completely balanced.

6. Affirm the present. Affirm (ideally out loud): “I am love, I am light. I am safe. Everything is working out for my highest and greatest good. All is well.”

7. Ask the Universe for what you want. Now open your arms to the sky and say (as loudly as you can): “I am open to receiving the love, joy, and abundance of the Universe!”

You may also want to check out this great blog post on Getting Grounded for the Holidays by Charlotte Bradley of Yoga Flavored Life. Charlotte provides a short 5-pose yoga sequence to help you get grounded.

3.    Be present

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’”
— Eckhart Tolle

The best gift you can offer people doesn’t come in a box…it’s your presence and attention. Look around you. Instead of wishing for what isn’t, enjoy the moment and the people who are in front of you, right now.

4.    Decide what you want

When we experience unpleasant situations, it allows us tune into what we really do want instead. And once you know what you want, you can begin taking steps to create it. Don’t feel like being alone? Call someone up or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Overwhelmed by too many visitors? Sneak off and do the grounding exercise above or take a hot bath and listen to calming music.

5.    Focus on blessings

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.”
― Wayne Dyer

Things may not be perfect, but there is still undoubtedly much good in your life. Using each of your senses, pause and feel gratitude for the good things around you…the smell of roasting turkey, the sound of laughter, the excitement in your child’s eyes. (And just look at Aunt Mabel…it’s hard not to smile when you see her enthusiasm as she dances on the table. Or to admire her moves at 80.)

If you slow down long enough to see the beauty in the imperfection, you’ll start to appreciate what is already going well. And how blessed you truly are.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones…even Aunt Mabel.

If you like this post, please comment below, and share with others!

Looking for more ideas? Check out this blog post by my friend Lauren Jawno:
10 Strategies to flow through the holiday season – sanity intact!


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is also 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 themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Posted by: silverliningsblog | December 16, 2016

Beating the holiday blues

16-12-16-winter-blues-girlLet’s face it – the holiday season is not all candy canes and multi-coloured lights for everyone.

Many people struggle with feelings of loneliness and even despair. Some have just been through a break-up. Others have lost a loved one. And still others are surrounded by people, but still feel lonely and blue.

Can you relate?

I know I have spent quite a few Christmases as a single mom, feeling sad that I had no one to celebrate with. I did have my kids, and focused my energy as much as possible on them…but my family was thousands of miles away and I really wanted a special someone to spend Christmas with.

Why so blue?

Why does this time of year, in particular, trigger so much angst?

It’s really a combination of factors:

  • Media images and pictures tell us we “should” be having a good time.
  • We have expectations of an idyllic family celebration, but … let’s face it, drunk Uncle Albert and grouchy Aunt Mable may not meet those expectations. 😉 And drinking eggnog by yourself once the kids are in bed may not be what you asked Santa for.
  • We may have memories of happier times, but our current reality just isn’t the same.
  • The holiday season can be exhausting, with so much to do in a short period of time.
  • The days are shorter and there’s less sunlight, triggering Seasonal Affective Disorder in many.
  • It’s the end of the year, and a natural time to reflect on whether our life is the way we want it.

Moving through sadness and loneliness

16-12-16-winter-blues-snowflakesSo what can you do if you’re struggling with feelings of sadness an loneliness?

1. Feel your feelings. Begin by acknowledging how you’re feeling, and not resisting it. Sit with the feeling, and notice where it shows up in your body. Give yourself permission to not feel happy.

2. Ask why. Consider why you feel this why – what previous memories are being triggered, and what is not meeting your expectations.

3. Set an intention. Decide what you would prefer to feel and experience instead.

4. Shift your perspective. Consider how you can look at things differently. A good exercise is to write down everything you feel grateful for in your life. (Even if things aren’t perfect, there are likely many good things going on, and when you start focusing on them, you’ll naturally start to feel better.)

5. Take action. Decide what you want to do now to improve the situation and help yourself feel better.

For more specifics on how to move through your feelings, please see Dealing with unruly emotions.

Feeling peace and joy

16-12-16-winter-blues-xmas-ballsSo what will help you feel better this holiday season?

Often, the reason we feel awful is because we’re focusing on a closed door. We’re noticing that we can’t get what we want from a certain source (e.g. not from the partner who left, the parent who died, the job that is no more, the child who is with our ex).

Instead, we must shift our focus to the doors that are open. There are many ways we can feel what we said we wanted to feel in step 3 above.

For example, a few years back, I got tired of feeling blue at Christmas. I decided to make it as good as I could, by:

  • Creating some new special traditions with my kids (driving around to see the holiday lights, skating on the Rink of Dreams downtown, going sledding and having hot chocolate).
  • Hosting a hilarious “Ugly sweater, terrible gifts, horrible singing party” for my friends.
  • Inviting a few close friends into my home for Christmas dinner (creating the atmosphere of family and laughter I so desired, and acknowledging that others were feeling lonely too).
  • Donating to local and overseas families who have far less than me at Christmas.
  • Taking a day off by myself on New Year’s Day, and going to the Nordic spa near my home to relax in hot tubs and saunas.

Other people have told me they’ve done these things:

  • Traveled to a place they’ve always wanted to go to.
  • Attended holiday MeetUp events.
  • Helped out at a soup kitchen.
  • Done random deeds of kindness for strangers.
  • Phoned friends they had lost touch

I hope this sparks some ideas for you. You may also want to consider checking out this Holiday Heartbreak Survival Kit that some friends and I put together (coordinated by my awesome friend Jessica Tomlinson), to help you get through those holiday blues.

I hope some of these ideas help you to create a more joyful holiday. Wishing you great love, joy and peace this holiday season.

xo Karen

Resources for further learning


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is also 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 themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Posted by: silverliningsblog | October 28, 2016

Do you keep attracting unhealthy relationships?

sad-girl-1555789_1280You’re an amazing person. You’re smart, independent and hard-working. You have a great personality and sense of humor. You give a lot in your relationships. And you really want a great partner who will give a lot back to you.

So why on earth do you keep attracting losers?

Your last partner was narcissistic and selfish. The one before that was abusive. The one before that cheated on you.

You know you’re stuck in a pattern of unhealthy relationships, but you don’t know why. You keep wondering … “Is there something wrong with me?”

I can assure you that—after years of studying unhealthy relationship patterns—there is nothing wrong with you. And you are not alone in your struggle to find a good partner. You are a truly wonderful person, and you deserve to find true love.

You are simply stuck in a pre-conditioned love pattern that was ingrained in your psyche when you were a child, and reinforced by the failed relationships you’ve had since. It’s like an old-fashioned record player whose needle is stuck in the same worn-out track.

The good news is, you can move your love needle. It does not need to remain stuck on repeat, playing the same old dreary love songs.

I remember in my 20s, I used to play sad love songs on the piano: “Alone,” “Waiting for You,” “Bad Timing.” Little did I realize that I was re-enforcing the very thing I didn’t want—an unhappy ending.

And so I had many unhappy endings. My first husband died of liver cancer. Then I dated a serial cheater. Then I married someone who was a really good person, but couldn’t connect emotionally. Then I dated someone who was extremely jealous and controlling. Over and over the record played, ending in me feeling like something must be really, really wrong with me.

But I know now that isn’t true. Many of the very best people remain single the longest and go through a series of unfulfilling relationships before finding true love. It’s not you. It’s a pattern. A pattern you can learn to understand and step out of.

Thankfully, once you become aware of your pattern, you can choose a happier song for your love story’s soundtrack.

uncover-your-hidden-blocksTo help you understand your pattern, I’d like to offer you a free gift called “Uncover your hidden blocks to love.” It can literally help you shave years off of finding your soulmate.

Access your free gift here

I’d also like to invite you to a special free webinar this coming Tuesday, November 1 called “Lemons to lemonade – How to turn your heartbreak into a breakthrough!”

Find out more and register here

I know you deserve a great partner. And I truly believe you can find one. I hope this information helps you find what you’re looking for.

xo Karen


Karen Strang Allen

Empowerment expert Karen Strang Allen is committed to helping single women end the cycle of dead-end relationships and find true love. Karen has a Master of Journalism and is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! She is the also international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength: Volume 2. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP Canada), assertiveness coaching (Doreen Virtue), and success training (Jack Canfield).

Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen knows from experience that heartbreak can be a tremendous catalyst for personal growth. Through one-on-one coaching, workshops and her signature Transform Your Life group program, Karen helps single women feel great about themselves, create a life they love, and attract a partner who will cherish them like the gift that they are!

Posted by: silverliningsblog | September 15, 2016

Conquering fear

fear-womanI stepped onto the stage. All eyes were on me as I prepared to give my 10-minute speech in a French public speaking contest at regional finals. I was 14.

I took a deep breath, opened my mouth to speak and…nothing came out. I broke out into an instant sweat as I tried in vain to recall the words I had so carefully written, memorized and delivered several times already. But the words did not come.

The silence pounded in my ears as I shifted side from side for what seemed like an eternity, with everyone staring uncomfortably at me. I finally left the stage and took my seat, humiliated and choking back tears.

That was almost 30 years ago. And yet I can remember the scene like it was yesterday.

That moment has haunted me for much of my adult life, causing me to shy away from taking the stage again, even though there’s a part of me that has always envisioned myself on stage, speaking to large groups of people, motivating them to create better lives.

It’s funny how one difficult event can cause us to fear being put in the same situation ever again…and to lose out on so many great opportunities as a result.

But our brains are wired to look for patterns and to avoid pain, so we subconsciously avoid anything that reminds us of previous “negative” experiences. (That’s why you may avoid a certain food, even if you only got sick once after eating it. Or why you dislike driving in the city, because you had one accident. Or why you don’t like Aunt Doris, because she once pinched your cheeks too hard.)

Food for thought: What fear is holding you back in your life? Is it a fear of public speaking, dating, meeting new people, being assertive, changing jobs, ending a relationship, being alone?

Moving through fear

Three years ago, I decided to open a business as an author and empowerment coach for women. Ironically, that career forced me to face two of my biggest fears: sales, and speaking on stage.

I have gradually been moving through both of those fears (which are ultimately rooted in a fear of rejection from childhood). I’ve been taking it one step at a time, using the techniques I outline in Taming the tiger within: How to move through fear and anxiety. And gradually the fear has subsided.

But I still tend to overprepare and use notes as a crutch, terrified of yet again not knowing what to say.

20160912-momondays-ottawa-karen-allen-5Earlier this week, I took the stage again to deliver a 10-minute speech. Without notes. This time, 130 pairs of eyes were watching me as I prepared to speak. I had prepared for this moment, so was not too nervous, though I was a bit worried about forgetting my words again.

Funnily enough, I forgot my first line. But I recovered quickly, and went on to give a great speech that got me a standing ovation and many compliments afterwards.

It was a terrific moment. I knew I had finally conquered my fear, and that it would never stop me again from taking the stage.

Learning to trust yourself

“If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?” —Susan Jeffers

fearIn her book Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers says that all fears really boil down to one thing: the fear that we can’t handle something.

She says the key is to move through our fear and take action despite it. Then one of two things will happen:

  1. We’ll succeed, which will give us the confidence to take new risks.
  2. We’ll fail, and we’ll realize that failure is not the end of the world…it’s an invitation to do something a different way (or try something new).

In other words, no matter what, we’ll discover we can handle the outcome.

I have no illusions that my fear of getting on stage is gone or that I’ll never be nervous…I simply know now that I can handle it. And that if I do forget something, it’s not the end of the world. I simply need to remain connected to my audience, give myself a moment or two, and it will either come back to me or I’ll figure out something else to say.

Many of us try to deal with our fear by either avoiding what makes us afraid (limiting our potential), or trying to control everything in our external world (driving other people crazy). But really, the way to feel safe in the world is to trust yourself that you can get through any challenges that come your way …and eventually succeed.

As for me, I have finally learned to trust myself to figure things out no matter what happens, and that is a very good feeling indeed.

Have you conquered any fears? Please share your tips/comments below!

Resources for further learning


Karen Strang AllenKaren 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 about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 27, 2016

The end of criticism

2016-04 Criticism - resultsI am sure there is more than one guy out there who would love to know why women criticize. And what they can do to stop it. Not that only women criticize—men do it too—but women tend to do it more often.

Whether you’re on the receiving end of the berating, or the one dishing it out, it helps to understand what’s really going on if you want to change the pattern.

What is criticism all about?

Criticism, at its core, is a request. It’s one person wanting something from someone else…perhaps a change in behaviour, or simply to be heard and understood.

The problem is that the request has an edge. It is often delivered in a harsh tone, blaming the other person. Even if it’s said nicely, it is delivered from a place of assuming it’s the other person who should change. A place of superiority.

As a result, the person on the receiving end doesn’t feel very good. They feel put down and belittled. They feel their dignity and very person has been assaulted.

Whether criticism is phrased in a gentle way or a cruel way, it comes from the same place of judgment. Unconsciously, the critic believes that their opinion is the “only” correct one. The way he or she looks at the world is the only reasonable way to see it…” —Harville Hendrix

Criticism rarely achieves a positive result. Even if the person does what the criticizer wants, they feel upset or resentful. They do not feel safe. Trust has been broken.

So even if you feel justified and that your criticism is “constructive,” it’s important to understand how damaging criticism is to the other person, and to your relationship.

There is a better way.

What can you do instead of criticize?

2016-04 Criticism - manIf you have a tendency to criticize, it’s important to know you are not a bad person. You are simply using an ineffective communication style, one you probably learned from one or both of your parents. You simply need to learn a healthier way to communicate your needs.

While I hate to admit it out loud, I have been guilty of criticizing others, especially in my romantic relationships. And I realize now why I did it. I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid to ask for what I really wanted. It took a ton of effort for me to even voice my needs. So when I finally did, and the other person didn’t respond or seem to hear me, I felt rejected. Which made me feel hurt and angry. And caused me to lash out.

But I have made a commitment to end this unhealthy habit, and learn to be more assertive and positive in my communications with others. And I hope others will join me.

Since criticism is really a request (wrapped in an ugly, harsh exterior), the key is to learn to ask for what you want in a positive way the other person can hear.

Here are five tips to help you:

1. Be calm. Make sure you are calm and in a positive frame of mind first. Communication doesn’t work well when you’re angry. Go into this with the intention of learning something about the other person, and improving your relationship. Don’t assume you have all the answers.

2. Understand your perspective. Think about what is bothering you, and why it is bothering you. Get to the core of the issue. What memories from your childhood or past relationships does this issue bring up? Is this really that big a deal, or is it possible you are being triggered and over-reacting? Be sure to take ownership for your feelings, for your part of the problem.

3. See the other perspective. Think about how the other person might be feeling. How might their perspective be different? Realize the situation isn’t as black and white as you might at first think. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt: they may not realize what they’re doing is bothering you, and may have reasons for their behaviour.

4. Decide what you want. Think about what it is you really want, and why you want it. Come up with a request that includes why this matters to you.

5. Schedule a conversation. Tell the other person there is something bothering you, and that you’d like to discuss it with them to come up with a solution together. Ask them if now is a good time, and if not, ask them when would be a good time. Then use the feedback sandwich I describe in an earlier post to communicate.

Tips: Be sure to make your request clear, and not expect the other person to read your mind. Also, allow the other person to explain their point of view, and offer different solutions. The goal is mutual understanding, and to find a win-win solution.

How can you avoid being criticized?

2016-04 Criticism - person criticizedIf you’ve been on the receiving end of criticism (I know I have), you know it’s not a lot of fun. It feels demeaning and insulting and hurtful. You do not have to check your pride at the door and let people walk over you.

But you should also avoid slamming the door shut. Tuning someone out hurts them, and damages your relationship as much as criticism does. And it typically causes the other to become more aggressive. You need to understand your role in the unhealthy communication dynamic in order to change it.

“A relationship without dialogue, without one person being able to express a concern, is also an unhealthy place. Suppressed thoughts and feelings lead to passive-aggressive behavior, or to the gradual dissolution of affection for one another.” —Harville Hendrix

Here are some new tools for your communication tool belt:

1. Be assertive. The first step is to be assertive and establish a healthy boundary. Calmly tell the other person that their tone of voice/approach hurts you. Tell them you want to talk, but cannot continue the conversation until the other person is calm and is speaking respectfully to you. (The point here is not to shut the other person out or avoid the conversation. It’s to encourage them to change their communication style and allow you to feel safe.)

2. Ask what is bothering the other person. This next step is key. And it’s probably the one you typically avoid. It’s important to understand that, even if the other person is not communicating well, they are trying to tell you something. So it’s important for you to tell them you care what they are feeling and want to hear them out. If you do this—and set a time to talk so they know you mean it—it can take a lot of the heat out of their words. Because really, what they most want is to be heard and understood by you, and to know that they matter. So once everyone is calm, ask the other person what is bothering them. Yes, actually seek out the answer! This is the key to improving your relationship with anyone…to be concerned with and actively find out what matters to them. Keep asking them questions until they appear to be finished speaking and you feel you’ve understood.

3. Mirror, validate and empathize. Reflect back to them what you’ve heard (repeat back what they said in your words, as objectively as possible). Validate them by saying you understand why they feel the way they do (this does not require you to agree with them…you are simply acknowledging their right to feel the way they do and showing you understand the reasons why). Show empathy by saying you want them to feel better. (Whether you agree with their solution/request or not doesn’t matter…you are showing their feelings matter to you.)

4. Share your feelings. Explain your perspective, if it is different. Be sure to use “I feel” statements and own your feelings instead of blaming the other person. (See 3 steps to express yourself without conflict for tips on this.)

5. Find a win-win solution. Brainstorm together to find a solution you are both happy with.

Making a commitment to communicate better

Criticism really is harmful to others, no matter how it is delivered. It implies one person is superior, and the other inferior. It also implies one person has all the answers, and shuts down dialogue and understanding.

At the same time, avoiding conversations and shutting the other person out is damaging too. It causes them to feel like their feelings and needs are unimportant…like they are unimportant to you.

So if you want to have healthier, more intimate relationships, learn to be vulnerable and positively communicate what you want! And learn to make the other person feel safe and understood by listening to them and validating their feelings.

Can you imagine a world without criticism and avoidance, where we all just openly and caringly share how we feel and look for mutually beneficial solutions? I can. And I am excited to be creating a new kind of world for myself, my children, and others.

If you liked this post, please share with others. And please share your thoughts and ideas below…I love hearing from my readers!

Resources for further learning

Karen Strang Allen
Karen Strang Allen is passionately committed to helping single women take back their power after heartbreak and recognize their true value. She empowers women to rediscover who they are, feel sensational, and become a magnet for their dream partner! 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.

Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at Or contact Karen and ask for a free “Discover my Strengths” strategy session today!

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 19, 2016

5 magic questions to improve your life

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” – Naguib Mahfouz (Nobel Prize Winner)

Questions - abstract-1301909_1280My parents used to call me their “question box.” I would drive them crazy, asking questions about everything. If they said the sky was blue, I’d ask “Why?” If they said Grandpa was sick, I’d ask “How come?” If they said I couldn’t do something, I’d ask, “Why not?”

Children are naturally curious. They don’t take anything for granted. They want to know why things are the way they are, and challenge the adults around them to wonder why, too. And because of their curiosity and critical thinking, they come up with creative ideas most adults wouldn’t even consider.

But somewhere along the way, we are told not to ask so many questions. To “mind our own business,” “not be so nosey” and “accept things the way they are.” And yet, asking questions is one of the best ways to learn about the world and ourselves, and to avoid becoming closed off to new ideas.

So if you’ve been stuck in a rut or are having a challenging time, now is a great time to start asking questions again…new and better questions that challenge your previous assumptions and beliefs, and open doors to new perspectives and possibilities.

What questions are you currently asking?

Questions - thinker-1294493_1280It is important to become aware of the questions you are silently asking yourself. After all, your focus is determined by the questions you ask. Questions like “Why me?” and “Why now?” are disempowering and cast you in the role of victim. They keep you feeling like change is outside of your control, and prevent you from seeing what you can do to improve your situation.

The “magic” in asking empowering questions is that your mind immediately starts looking for solutions, and keeps doing so in the background even when you’re not aware of it. Then suddenly, you get an insight when you’re out jogging. Or you notice a story on Facebook. Or you have a dream that gives you a creative solution.

The five magic questions

Here are five empowering questions to help you change your perspective and take control of your life:

Questions - 5 1328466_12801. What is the gift in this challenge?

Even the most difficult circumstances have a positive side. For example, when my first husband died from liver cancer, I was devastated. But through his passing, I developed some wonderful, deep friendships, and improved my relationship with my mother.

No matter what you’re going through, the first step to feeling better is to see what you can learn, how you can I grow, or what new people/things/benefits have entered your life as a result.

A slightly different version of this question is: “How can I turn this situation into something that benefits me and/or others?”

For example, I decided to use the lessons I learned from my first husband’s passing (and my separation from my second husband) to uplift other single women. How can you turn this situation into a blessing or learning opportunity?

2. What do I want instead?

It is easy to get stuck focusing on what we don’t want. But that just brings more of what we don’t want. So instead, try shifting your perspective to what you want instead. What has this situation taught you about what you really want for yourself? It can help to journal about what you really want, in as much detail as possible.

3. Who can I ask for help?

Now that you’ve identified what you want instead, think about who could possibly help you turn things around. It may be a friend, family member, or paid advisor. It could even be the person with whom you’re having the problem…you may need to talk to them about how you feel, once you are calm. (See 3 steps to express yourself without conflict for tips on this.)

4. What action can I take today to make things better?

Next, ask yourself what you can do, right now, to help yourself feel better. No matter what is happening and who is involved, your feelings belong to you. You alone control your actions/reactions. And you are in the best position to know what will make you feel better. Be assertive and do something for yourself…either an act of self-nurturing, or a step towards the goal you identified in question #2.

5. What is great about my life already?

This is a very powerful question, because it stops you from catastrophizing and gets you to focus on what is already working well in your life. And since like attracts like, the more you focus on what’s working, the better things will go for you. Plus feeling gratitude is a powerful antidote to feeling upset!

Waiting for solutions to appear

Questions - hands-460865_1280After asking one or more of these magic questions, it’s important to relax and trust solutions will appear. The more you chase after an answer, the more it will elude you. Instead, let the question go, ask the Universe to help you, and trust that it will.

In the coming days and weeks, keep a spirit of open awareness. Make space in your life to be quiet/still, meditate, or go for a walk in nature. Notice your recurring thoughts and dreams. Pay attention to what seem like repeat “messages” related to your question. Notice when you get an idea that makes you smile or feel more peaceful. Then take action as soon as you feel inspired.

I believe the quality of our life truly is determined by the quality of our questions, and what we focus on as a result. So if you want to improve your life dramatically, change the questions you ask…and let the magic begin!

If you liked this post, please share with others. And share your thoughts and ideas below…I love hearing from my readers!

Resources for further learning


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is passionately committed to helping single women take back their power after heartbreak and recognize their true value. She empowers women to rediscover who they are, feel sensational, and become a magnet for the man of their dreams! 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. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Contact Karen and ask for a free “Starting Over” strategy session today!

Posted by: silverliningsblog | April 5, 2016

3 steps to express yourself without conflict

It can be hard to know how to deal with your kids when they’re pushing your buttons. Or what to say to your ex when you disagree about something. Or how to tell a friend you don’t like something she did.

You want to speak your truth and have the situation get better. But you fear if you do it will upset the other person and create conflict.

So today, we’re going to look at a simple 3-step way to express how you really feel without creating conflict.

This approach is often called the “sandwich” approach, because you sandwich your constructive feedback (difficult message) between two positive messages, making it easier for the other person to digest. It also makes the person less likely to become defensive, because you are also acknowledging what they are doing well (what’s working), and giving them a chance to participate in the solution.

Tip: Before you even begin, I recommend taking some deep breaths, ensuring you’re calm, and thinking about what you want to achieve.

Elements of a feedback sandwich

16-05-04 SandwichThis is my own personal spin on the feedback sandwich. I like to call it the “Lots of let-us sandwich.”

1. Begin with agreement – Your first slice of bread should be something you can both agree with. Explain your overall goal for the interaction (ideally a goal you both share, like “I really want to improve our relationship”).

Tip: Avoid having a harsh/angry tone or closed off/aggressive body language. Instead, be open and positive. Allow that you may be misunderstanding something.

2. Present your feedback constructively – The filling for your sandwich is the constructive feedback you want to provide. Calmly explain what the issue is:

*Butter the bread – Describe factually the situation that is troubling you (as if you’re a news reporter…recount the events as objectively as possible).

*Add meat – Explain how the situation makes you feel (using “I” statements…like “I felt like you didn’t care about my safety when xyz happened”).

*Sprout new ideas – Describe how you would like things to be different.

*Try a new ingredient – Invite them to explain/respond/share their perspective.

*Add “let us” – Brainstorm solutions together. Ask for what you need from the other person.

Tips: Hold the pickle! 🙂 It’s important not to use a “but” between the opening statement and the feedback, or you’ll negate the positive sentiment you expressed before (use “and” instead…“I really value our friendship and I want to talk to you about something”). It’s also important to avoid blaming or insulting by using “you” statements or over-generalizing (which will cause anyone to become defensive), like “you’re so lazy, you never do xyz…”. Be sure to own your feelings and perspective by using “I” statements.

3. End with appreciation and encouragement – Wrap up your sandwich by adding another slice of positivity. Note something you appreciate about the other person. This allows them to mentally recover and shows you have faith in them, despite the issue at hand. (It could be as simple as that you appreciate that they took the time to listen to what you had to say, or that you really value their friendship and look forward to your next get-together.)

Ideally the thing you compliment the person on is related to your issue. Tony Robbins suggests beginning with one of these three phrases:

*I respect…
*I appreciate…
*I agree…

Tip: Your compliment must be genuine. Don’t say something you don’t mean, as the other person will sense it. Find something positive to focus on…or if you’re really stuck, try painting a vision of the terrific results from the change you’re asking for.

What a feedback sandwich tastes like

My kids were recently driving me nuts with their fighting. While they used to get along really well, now that they’re 8 and 10, they seem to be constantly bickering. So here is how I constructed my feedback sandwich for them:

1. First slice of bread (agreement) – I love the close relationship you share. You’ve always been good at playing, laughing and sharing together. I really hope you are always close and kind to each other!

2. Filling (constructive feedback) – I’ve noticed you seem to be fighting a lot lately. Have you noticed that too? (Nods.) I feel upset when I hear you fighting so much. It’s really loud and hurts my ears. And it bothers me that you are being mean to each other. I grew up in a home with a lot of fighting, and I really want our home to be a safe, happy place. I would really like you to be nicer to each other, and to talk to each other without yelling or name-calling. What do you think? (Both agree it’s a problem.) What do you think we can do to solve this problem? I’d like to hear some ideas from each of you about what you think you can do to improve this situation. (Both take ownership of their role in the fighting and give their ideas for improvement.)

3. Second slice of bread (appreciation and encouragement) – I really appreciate that you’re both willing to make some changes. I know you are really kind-hearted kids and can remember to be that way with each other. (Smiles and hugs.)

It was amazing how well this technique worked. I have no illusions that my kids will never fight again, but things have improved, and now the door to communicating about it again is open. And we feel better now that we’ve each had a chance to feel heard about what is bothering us.

You may need to adjust as you go, depending on who you’re dealing with. And I always recommend ensuring everyone is calm and in a positive frame of mind before beginning. But the feedback sandwich really is a useful communication tool that tastes better to most people than a sour grapes salad!

Resources for further learning

If you liked this post, please share with others. And share your thoughts and ideas below…I love hearing from my readers!


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is fiercely committed to helping single women recognize their true value and turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them. She empowers them to feel confident, design a sensational single life, and become a magnet for the man of their dreams! 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. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Contact Karen and ask for a free “Single and Sensational” strategy session today!




Posted by: silverliningsblog | March 9, 2016

The pros and cons of being a female

066I remember distinctly the day I realized men and women weren’t always considered equal.

My grade 6 teacher was talking about careers, and mentioned that women don’t make as much as men in the workforce. I raised my hand.

“What? Are you serious? Why?”

He explained that the work women did was often considered less important, and that even when women performed the same work as men, they typically earned less. He said that was just the way things were.

I remember thinking how unfair and arbitrary that was (it still is 30 years later), and wishing in that moment that I hadn’t been born a girl. I was 11.

Since then, while I’ve had moments when I’ve wished I was a guy (like during the searing pain of childbirth), for the most part I’ve embraced my femininity.

So in honour of International Women’s Day, which was yesterday, I would like to offer these top 10 challenges and gifts of being female.

Top 10 challenges of being female

0231. Hormonal mood swings – Guys may be surprised to learn that we’re not crazy about PMS either. 🙂

2. Menopause – Ah yes, after years of PMS fun, we get to look forward to menopause. (Does this word mean we should take a pause from men, lol? Or that men have good reason to pause when we’re approaching this phase of our lives? 🙂

3. Body image issues – Because our culture over-emphasizes looks and air brushes images, many females feel inadequate and think something is wrong with their body.

4. Over-sexualization – Our culture also over-emphasizes sexuality, making everything a woman does or wears sexual. (Really…can yoga just be about yoga, not about the “sexy poses” and yoga pants a woman is in?)

5. Lack of boundaries – Girls are taught from a young age to be “nice” and kind and giving. While that might seem like a good thing, it teaches girls to be passive and not set healthy boundaries with others.

6. Discouragement of strength – Girls aren’t supposed to be strong, or to get angry. So when a woman is strong, she’s often called a “bitch” or even a “dyke,” as if being strong is the very opposite of being female (which it’s not).

7. Discouragement of celebrating success – Because girls are taught to be modest and humble, they are not encouraged to celebrate their successes, especially publicly.

8. Wage inequality – Even in North America, there are still many fields where women just don’t earn the same as men, even for the same work.

9. “Women’s work” devalued – Many important careers traditionally held by women (like childcare, nursing, social work, etc.) continue to be underpaid because they’re considered “less important.”

10. Unequal rights – In many parts of the world, women still don’t even have basic rights, like being able to vote or decide what happens to their bodies.

Top 10 gifts of being female

Now lest we think that being female sucks, let’s talk about all the reasons being female is great!

1631. Bling! – We get to wear bright, shiny, sparkly things. J

2. Mani-pedis – While some brave guys now enjoy these too, it’s still largely women who fill the spas and get to enjoy the benefits of being pampered.

3. Collaboration – Females by nature tend to be more collaborative, realizing that “many hands make light work” and that lifting each other up is the best way to get ahead.

4. Sharing feelings – Because we’re emotional creatures, we are more encouraged by society to share our deeper feelings and express emotion, which keeps it from being pent up inside. Sharing with a compassionate listener helps us feel validated and understood.

5. Girl chats – More than just sharing feelings, talking with other women can cover everything from the deeper meaning of life, to what to make for dinner, to something funny we saw on TV in one conversation. It helps us feel we’re in this life together.

6. Open affection – Being able to openly and comfortably share affection with our own sex without being labelled gay is a definite plus.

7. Women’s intuition – To me, one of the greatest gifts of being female is the instinctive intuitiveness we have, particularly about our children and others around us. We just know something is up, even if no one says so! (While men have intuition too, it appears on average to be better developed in females.)

8. Ability to multi-task – That extra left-brain, right-brain connection we gals are blessed with certainly comes in handy when we need to hold a phone, make dinner, and soothe a distraught child at the same time!

9. Producing life – The ability to create life and feed children with our own bodies is certainly one of the most amazing things about being female.

10. Living longer – And let’s not forget that on average, women live several years longer than men…which as long as you’re healthy and financially secure, is a definite plus!

Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

053I will leave it to you to decide whether being male or female is better. I think there are pros and cons to each.

But since I was already born female, I guess I’ll stick with it, for this lifetime at least. 🙂 Truthfully, while I don’t love having periods and hormonal swings, and I dislike society’s emphasis on our bodies, I do mostly like being a girl. I particularly love the camaraderie I have with my girlfriends, who can laugh and cry with me in the same conversation.

So, to all you gals out there, happy Women’s Day! And to all you guys, I hope you’re equally happy to be male. I also hope you know that our world is better when we have healthy, strong women in it (as well as healthy, strong men). We need a balance of masculine and feminine energy.


What do you think it means to be a woman? If you’re a woman, are you happy that you are? I would love to hear your ideas! Please share your thoughts below, or email me at


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen helps single women who are tired of unhealthy relationships pinpoint what needs to change, design a sensational single life, and become a magnet for the man of their dreams! 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. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Contact Karen and ask for a free “Sensational and single” strategy session today!

Posted by: silverliningsblog | February 25, 2016

A pushover no more: How to set healthy boundaries

292Many women don’t know how to set healthy boundaries.

They let themselves be pushed around by their bosses, co-workers, partners, kids. They don’t stand up for themselves when someone speaks rudely to them. They give and give and never ask for what they need. They try so hard to be good and kind that they get taken advantage of by others.

I know this profile well. I used to be a pushover myself.

I grew up in a home where I was to be a “good girl” and not bother anyone. My mother was overwhelmed with four young kids, so I didn’t dare to ask for anything. And when people would bully me, I would “turn the other cheek” because I thought that was the right thing to do.

We learn about boundaries as children. Some of us are taught how to assert ourselves and create healthy boundaries by parents who are themselves assertive. But many of us are shown unhealthy examples due to abuse, neglect, or simply a lack of parenting skills.

And yet, being able to set boundaries is key to functioning well in society as healthy adult. If we don’t tell others what our limits are, how will they know? And if they don’t know, how can we expect them to treat us the way we want to be treated?

“We learn about our boundaries by the way we are treated as children. Then we teach others where our boundaries are by the way we let them treat us. Most people will respect our boundaries if we indicate where they are. With some people, however, we must actively protect them.” —Anne Katherine, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin

What is a boundary?

So what is a boundary, exactly?

A boundary is a limit that defines you as separate from others. It is a line you create that you don’t want others to cross. It expresses what you will and won’t accept in your relationships, and teaches others how you expect to be treated.

The five main types of boundaries are:

  1. Physical – Determining what happens to your body, including how much “personal space” you require.
  2. Sexual – Deciding how and when you want to be touched intimately, and who you want to be sexual with.
  3. Emotional – Requiring respect for how you feel and what your emotional needs are, including setting limits on how people speak to and about you.
  4. Relational – Communicating to others how you want to interact with them, including how much closeness/distance you require and how much time alone you need.
  5. Spiritual – Creating energetic boundaries to protect yourself from unwanted spiritual interference.

In an ideal world, we would clearly express what our limits are to others, and maintain those limits. And we would respect the boundaries of others too.

“A clean, clear boundary preserves your individuality, your youness. You are an individual, set apart, different, unique. Your history, experiences, personality, interests, dislikes, preferences, perceptions, values, priorities, skills—this unique combination defines you as separate from others.” —Anne Katherine, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin

Boundaries that are too weak/open

SeagullsIf our boundaries are too weak (or open), we become overly permissive. We allow people to do things we don’t want, and ignore our own body’s signals that something feels wrong.

Examples of weak boundaries include:

  • Doing something you really don’t want to do.
  • Spending time with someone you don’t want to.
  • Letting someone touch you when you don’t want them to.
  • Ignoring your needs.
  • Working too hard and burning out.
  • Not resting or eating when you need to.
  • Not getting enough sleep or exercise.
  • Not doing something you really want to do.
  • Not allowing yourself enough alone time or leisure time.
  • Pretending you don’t feel how you feel.
  • Pretending to agree when you don’t.

When our boundaries are too weak, we constantly feel like we’re being taken advantage of. We become exhausted and depleted and moody. We feel like we’ve betrayed ourselves. We may even turn to substances (drugs, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar) or compulsive activities (eating, shopping, TV, texting, sex) to numb our feelings of unhappiness.

Boundaries that are too firm/closed

032On the other hand, if our boundaries are too firm, we become closed off. We become reclusive, distant, untrusting. We establish brick walls around our hearts that no one can possibly get through.

Examples of overly firm boundaries include:

  • Avoiding social situations.
  • Saying no to everyone.
  • Not returning calls, texts, emails.
  • Not sharing feelings even with people you know and trust.
  • Not staying in a romantic relationship for long.
  • Avoiding sex and affection.
  • Not showing concern for others’ thoughts, needs, and desires.
  • Not being willing to consider new ideas.

When our boundaries are too firm, people can’t connect with us emotionally. It hampers all our relationships and causes us to feel very separate and alone.

Boundaries that just right

011Healthy boundaries are strong but flexible. In other words, we strengthen or soften our boundaries with different people, allowing people we trust to get closer while keeping strangers at a distance until trust is established.

Healthy boundaries include the freedom to say yes, the right to say no, and the permission to change our mind. They also include respect for feelings and opinions, and the acceptance of differences. And they include the freedom to freely express our uniqueness (and the allowance for others to do the same).

Examples of healthy boundaries include:

  • Saying no to things you don’t want to do.
  • Telling someone to stop if you don’t like what they are doing or saying.
  • Taking care of your own needs.
  • Stopping to rest and eat when you need to.
  • Ensuring you get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Making it a priority to do things you really want to do.
  • Spending time with people you want to spend time with.
  • Ensuring you have enough alone time and leisure time.
  • Saying how you truly feel.
  • Expressing your opinions respectfully.
  • Asking for what you need.

“So what’s the goal of a person who wants to be healthy? To form boundaries that have some flexibility and some definite limits, boundaries that move appropriately in response to situations—out for strangers, in for intimates. Boundaries should be distinct enough to preserve our individuality yet open enough to admit new ideas and perspectives. They should be firm enough to keep our values and priorities clear, open enough to communicate our priorities to the right people, yet closed enough to withstand assault from the thoughtless and the mean.” —Anne Katherine, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin

How to set boundaries

So what does it look like to set a boundary?

While there are different types of boundaries, the process looks something like this:

  1. Decide what your boundary is. For example, you may decide you won’t sleep with a guy until you’ve known him for at least a month and decided you like him.
  2. Communicate this to the person involved. So if you go on a first date and the guy makes a pass, let him know firmly but politely that you need to get to know him better before you can be intimate.
  3. Reinforce the boundary (if needed). Many people will respect your boundary right away. Some will continue to push. In this example, if the guy keeps pushing you to have sex, firmly say no and create some physical distance.
  4. Enforce a consequence (if needed). If the person continues to persist, you need to decide what course of action feels right to you. In the case of someone you’re newly dating, it would probably make sense to simply stop seeing him. In the case of a child who’s not respecting your need to have a few minutes alone, you would need a different approach (for example, giving them a time-out or taking away a privilege).
  5. Take a breather. Setting and maintaining boundaries can feel stressful, especially if it’s new to you or if you have aggressive people in your life. Congratulate yourself for doing what is right for you, and give yourself some breathing room to recover emotionally.

From limited to limitless

I used to have very poor boundaries.

For example, I used to let everyone be my friend. I was like a cute happy puppy dog, smiling up at everyone waiting to be petted. Because I have always had a firm belief in people’s goodness, I naively failed to look for and be aware of ulterior motives. I got hurt often, and was always surprised when someone was mean. My boundaries were way too open.

Gradually I began to realize that I needed to have firmer boundaries when I first met people, and not openly share my heart with everyone. That doesn’t mean I put a wall around my heart…it just means that I now wait until I get to know and trust someone before I let them get close.

Learning to create and maintain healthy boundaries is an iterative process. It won’t happen overnight, but every time you set and enforce a limit with someone, you will become more confident in yourself and take back control of your own life.

This week, try deciding how much time you need to yourself. Then take that time, without apologizing or justifying, no matter who wants what from you!

While one of the key benefits of better boundaries is more authentic relationships with others, the number one benefit is a better relationship with yourself. Once you know you mean what you say and can stand up for yourself when you need to, you will feel empowered to do anything you want to, knowing you can handle the situations and people you encounter.

So ironically, setting limits with others allows you to become limitless in who you can be and what you can accomplish!

Do you have a story to share about a time you set a limit with someone? What does having boundaries mean to you? I would love to hear your ideas! Please share your thoughts below, or email me at


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen helps single women who are tired of unhealthy relationships change their patterns, design a sensational single life, and become a magnet for the man of their dreams! 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. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Contact Karen and ask for a free “Discover your patterns” strategy session today!

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