Health as an act of self-love

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A definition of health

Despite what social networks, magazines, and society preach, being healthy goes beyond being a size 2, having a flat stomach or how often we eat salads. Sure, all of that could be part of being healthy, but its far from being the only or complete expression of health.

True health is attained through adopting a lifestyle designed to accomplish and maintain a state of complete general well-being. It goes beyond the physical. It involves reducing our risk of disease and feeling fit, energetic,  and anxiety-free as a direct result of our daily decisions. That means being healthy also involves sleeping well, knowing how to handle stress and emotions, knowing how to relate to the external world, etc.

But, what motivates our daily decision making in regards to our lifestyle?

The reality is that we have been sold erroneous ideas on health that appeal to our insecurities: our vanity, the need to fit in, or our desire for admiration. Yes, using our weaknesses to produce positive changes can achieve results, but those results do not have the capacity to take us where we need to go. They are not strong enough to lead us to a state of full health because:
1. our motivation doesn´t come from a positive place
 2. it only tackles the physical aspect of health while dismissing its other spheres.

Sure, finding a photograph of a false exemplification of perfection next to the words "Looks like her in 7 days" could maybe motivate us to follow whatever strict regimen is being advertised in order to lose a few pounds, but only because, through unhealthy comparison, it appeals to our lack self-acceptance and feelings of inadequacy.  Not only is whatever change we make in this manner based on negative feelings, but in spite of any external result it may cause, its internal impact is null, if not harmful.

According to the American journal of medicine adherence to healthy habits has been getting worse over the years, and as long as health for women keeps being promoted as over-sexualized images and fad diets rather than an actual search for overall well being, my guess is that it will continue to decline. I want to invite you to approach your desire to healthy in a different way!

So, how can I achieve health in all of its expressions?

The most important thing I wanted to communicate to you with this post is that: True health can only be born from a state of self-love.

When you love someone, you wish the best for that person. You want to see them happy and prosperous. You are willing to help them to grow to reach their goals. You do not like to see someone you love make mistakes, hurt themselves, or put themselves at risk. In general, you are concerned about their well-being. Now let me propose something outlandish: what if that person you love so much was actually yourself? How would that change the entire panorama of how you treat yourself and the decisions you make regarding your own life?

I will use a practical example to bring this idea to life. Let us take the act of getting in 3 workouts a week. If you feel obliged to do it because you feel uncomfortable about how you look, it will surely feel tedious and boring, just like any other chore. And the more tedious it seems to you, the harder it will be for you to actually get around doing it. This is the reason why so many people struggle with persevering at their health-related goals.

However, what if you adopted a different mentality: one of self-love? Getting up to exercise then ceases to be a task fueled by your low self-esteem and instead becomes something you do to procure your well-being. Working out becomes what it should be: a tool to prevent disease, maintain function and feel great! And of course, all of that will show on the outside as well, as an added bonus. You change your mind, and everything else follows!

Our mental state is very powerful. Simply apply self-love to any situation, from food to friendships, and trust me, you will make the right decision every single time. When you think about food you will choose what best nurtures and thrives your body. You'll do it because you love yourself enough to seek the best for yourself in everything you do.

By practicing self-love, you become the highest priority. So, I can assure you that you will give importance to the number of sleep hours you get, to how you spend your time, to your choice of friends and to everything else. Remember that a good harvest is born of good soil, and just the same your health should be born of good intentions: love and nothing else.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for!

Did you find this post helpful? What motivates you to be healthy? Share below!

The Ultimate Guide: Build Self Confidence

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"Believe what is in the line of your needs, for only by such belief is the need fulfilled. Have faith that you can successfully make it, and your feet are nerved to its accomplishment."  [William James, Principles of Psychology]

Self Confidence

Our concept of self is based upon two things: self-knowledge (what you know about how you are) and self-evaluation (how you feel about who you are). This last bit, which is subjective and entirely born from self-examination, is what we base our self-esteem on.
Self-confidence means that we came up with positive conclusions after evaluating how we feel about ourselves. It means that we are happy and comfortable with who we are and therefore find security in being ourselves. Being self-confident means that we like who we are and that we can trust and depend on whoever we may be. The contrary to this idea would be self-doubt. It isn´t hard to conclude that it is hard to depend on or trust in the success of someone we don´t like, or that possess negative attributes.

Needless to say, we play the only and most important role in our self-esteem. It could be easy to think that our self-esteem is proportional to the quality of the person that we are but that is not the case. After all, every human makes mistakes; not a single one of us is perfect yet we all have different levels of self-esteem. 

In reality, self-esteem reflects only one thing about ourselves: our state of mind.  It speaks mountains about how negative and self-critical or self-understanding we are.  It shows how willing we are to forgive ourselves, to look beyond our flaws and to love ourselves as we are.

Your Self-Esteem Affects Your Quality of Life

1. How you see yourself shapes how others see you

If you can´t trust yourself, why would anyone else? Showing people that you trust yourself signals them that it is safe to trust you too. Self-confidence shows miles away, even when we are not speaking. It is visible in our body language, our posture, our tone of voice, the way we look at people, the type of decisions we make, our mood: it literally translates into everything and people around us pick up on it. 

We might be scared others think badly about us, but by lowering our self-esteem we ourselves are telling others we are not valuable, capable, or worthy of trust/dependability. The funny part is that when we let low self-esteem make us feel insecure and nervous about how others see us; scaring us into thinking that they´ll find everything wrong with us, it shows. It becomes the only reason that others are able to pick up on our insecurities. It creates an awful vicious cycle. 

There´s no way to escape interacting with other people (even if we might want to sometimes) and our lives are frequently affected by those interactions. So why not put our best foot forward? Why not give ourselves some love and acceptance so that we can approach the outside world, not with worry or insecurity, but with peace and comfort. If we work through our insecurities, no one can use them against us; by believing in ourselves, others can do so too. 

2. Feeling good about yourself leads to feeling good in general

Having low self-esteem can cause us to feel uncertain and unstable. It isn´t hard to guess why; when we don´t feel confident about who we are, it becomes hard to trust ourselves to be able to lead our lives to success/happiness/etc. Walking around life insecure in our own skins is the worst. It really affects how we experience and feel on a daily basis. 

Developing self-confidence allows us to trust and most importantly to accept ourselves. Only through acceptance can we begin to truly love and appreciate the person that we are becoming every day. The world can change a lot if we get to interact with it from a place of respect, comfort, and confidence. Being positive about who we are, makes us feel good which in turn makes us generally happy. Even if things go wrong, or we make a mistake, self-confidence gives us the faith and strength to keep pushing forward, because we love ourselves and honestly believe that we can succeed. Overall: it allows us to experience life joyfully and peacefully.

3. Self-Esteem leads to motivation and success

When we are feeling great about ourselves and our abilities we are far more likely to take on a challenge. Knowing that we can accomplish something acts as a fuel for powering us into actually doing. In fact, several psychologists agree that good self-confidence plays an important role in accepting more difficult tasks, having more ambitious goals and projects and increasing our motivation to work towards them. Sometimes we just need someone to believe in our capability to succeed, and what better person to do that than you?

Change: Mind and Behavior

As I said before, our perception of self reflects in everything we do, so improving our self-esteem involves two aspects: creating a positive mindset and changing your actions to match.

You can be confident in even the little things, like accepting a compliment with grace rather than rejecting it or by raising your voice to defend your values and ideas, even when everyone else is choosing to act otherwise. Not being afraid to leave your comfort zone and doing your own thing shows a great deal of courage and confidence. Even in failure, you can exhibit confidence by choosing to use every mistake as a stepping stone for improvement rather than letting the external situation define who you are.

This changes in behavior can only occur hand in hand with changes in your thinking. Changing your behavior can be easy if you only fake it, but actually rewiring the way you think can be a slower process. You need to start being conscious of your every thought. Challenge yourself to ban all negative statements from your thoughts and your words. Simple ways to start this change can include the following:

  • Practice gratitude.
  • List your positive attributes and strengths
  • Begin and end your day with positive affirmations
  • Set and complete small goals to build up your sense of accomplishment (and work your way up). 
  • Getting good results will help you moving on a path of success rather than failure.
  • Do something kind, that you can feel proud of, every day
  • Journal or simply do some introspection to get to know yourself better.
  • Make a list of weaknesses and write out a plan on how to improve on each one.
  • Plan ahead for stressful situations (for example if you feel especially insecure about meeting new people, try coming up with a few conversation points to keep at hand). Feeling prepared will make you feel confident.

In fact, I created a great tool for you to begin reshaping the way you think about yourself. It is a confidence-building workbook that will improve your self-esteem. It will help you both attack the bad habit of the negative self-doubt mindset and build up positivity and self-acceptance. You can download it right here for free: Get your free workbook by subscribing here!

Save your relationship: 5 unbreakable rules for fighting fair

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fights suck, especially the fights that involve your partner. It is amazing how stressful discussions can get between two people that love each other. Still, some of the most heated and hurtful fights happen within couples. The worst part is that, in many cases, the problems that kickstart a fight are really easy to work through if they were simply approached in the right way and with the right attitude. Healthy relationships are built on healthy communication, and that is something that all of us can learn. If your relationship is worth fighting for, then working hard to end the fights should become a priority.

Trust me: you can save your relationship.

Learning to Fight

Let me confess something: I used to be deathly scared of fighting. I avoided conflict like the plague! Even if it meant keeping my mouth shut about issues that really bothered me or putting up with some mistreatment. Learning to speak up about what upsets me is something that I´m still working on improving every single day.

I used to believe that openly addressing problems with others was the scariest thing in the world. In my mind, I was always afraid that it would only open the door to screaming, hurt feelings and disaster.  The idea of ending up in tears or facing a series of attacks sounded so much worse to me than the option of simply keeping my mouth shut and locking up the issue in a box.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this resulted in me bottling up all the negative feelings, which creates a perfect breeding ground for resentment and broken relationships.  Doesn´t sound healthy at all, right?

Eventually, after embarking on this journey of self-improvement I´ve slowly come to terms with finding better ways to deal with the unpleasant parts of the normal human interaction. While I still feel uncomfortable with conflict, I discovered that healthy alternatives to dealing with disagreements do exist. I mean, anything is better than disappointing silence. I finally realized that voicing my worries and concerns are the most crucial steps to resolving a conflict. After all, if you want to keep positive relationships, finding solutions yields way better results than pretending that problems don't exist.

Not only did I learn to raise my voice, I have also picked up some really helpful advice on how to do it. This has helped me improve so much at expressing myself in my relationships. Fighting with the person we love is one of the most stressful situations, but working through the issues is very important too. Today, I want to share all the knowledge I´ve gathered in hopes of helping you deal with any painful or uncomfortable situation that you may face with your significant other. In my experience, in most cases, healthy communication and the right disposition is all you need to work past any fight.

I was able to summarize most of what I´ve learned in  5 key points. Stick to them and I promise your fights will be a lot easier to bear and to resolve. So, here it goes:

The Five Unbreakable Rules for Fighting Fair

1. Voice your feelings in a non-offensive way

Some things have to be said, but it is crucial to pay close attention to how we say them. There are many strategies that help others understand our message that doesn´t involve aggression or forceful speech. Tone and body language play a huge role in how we interact with each other and it is something that we have to keep tabs on. Taking a calm and open stance is a great way to begin. Keeping a sweet tone of voice and using non-accusatory statements can go miles at improving the way you communicate as a couple. Instead of going on and on about the other person´s mistakes a better option is to simply express how you honestly feel about whatever situation you are facing, without assigning blame,  and communicating that you wish to find a solution to work through it.

Looking at a problem as an external circumstance, rather than attaching all the negativity directly to the other person, can make the issue far more approachable for both of you.

2. Stay away from aggressive or insulting language

Fights are already hard enough to start throwing around insults like confetti. Calling somebody names or worse is not going to help your case. In fact, its only bound to make your partner feel attacked and offended. Putting the person you are trying to communicate with on the defensive role makes them way more angry and way less receptive to what you have to say. So no matter how awful you feel, cussing and spitting out spiteful things can only cause more harm. It hurts the person that you love and it puts you in a position in which it's much harder for your thoughts to be taken seriously by the other person. 

Chances are if you are in a fight you are trying to work through things that have upset you. By insulting your partner you are doing nothing towards resolving issues, but create new ones by hurting the other person. Kindness is always the best approach. Show your partner that you care about them enough to solve your issues through healthy dialogue.

3. Stay calm, avoid fighting with a hot head

The best time to talk about a problem is hardly ever when you are right in the middle of it. If there is something bothering you, the best thing is always to step aside and really think about it. Are you hurt, stressed, insecure or angry? Analyze why you feel that way and what actions or situations created these feelings. Acknowledge that most probably the person that you love wasn´t purposely trying to cause you harm. Find a way to articulate everything that crosses your mind in a calm way. Let them know how whatever situation affected you and propose solutions that could work for both of you. Be receptive to listen about how the other person feels about the situation as well.

Some meditation and introspection are always good to keep things in perspective. You can totally work through whatever you are going through if you only find a way to stay calm. Take out the anger, yelling, and rage, and you´ll be left with a civilized conversation. This improves your chances of both reconciliation and not disturbing your neighbors.

4. Remember what matters: the goal should be finding solutions, not getting back at the other person.

This should be common sense, but you would be surprised how easy it is to lose sight of this concept in practice. I have been a victim of committing this mistake before. Sometimes you are so consumed by how annoyed, disappointed, angry and hurt you feel that all you want to do is let it all the negativity out, whatever it takes. The perpetrator of our worries then becomes the perfect outlet to discharge on. However, in the larger scale of things, this will do no good to a relationship or your partner. Concentrate on fixing and not destroying. It even helps to say this out loud. If you are looking to discuss something that´s been bothering you, you can always begin by communicating your intentions of setting things straight above all; let them know its the wellbeing of your relationship what matters the most. This will keep both of your priorities in check.

5. Be receptive. If you want to be heard you should be up to do some listening.

Respect lies in treating others the way we wish to be treated and it is one of the most important values to cultivate in a relationship. Go ahead and show your partner some respect by being willing to listen to his/her side of the story, with the same level of understanding and kindness with which you would like to be listened to. After all, a solution has to work for the both of you in order for it to be fair and truly work.

"One word can end a fight. One look can save a relationship."

I hope applying this rules improves the way you handle conflict with your S.O. Have you applied any of this tips? If so, how did that work out for you? Do you have any other helpful insight into dealing with the problems you have in your relationship? Please share in the comments.

Getting Rid of Toxic People

Sunday, September 2, 2018

We have all been there. Unfortunately, at some point in our lives, we might find ourselves in a place were the people we care about most seem to be tearing us down rather than building us up.  Honestly, that is one of the most horrible and heartbreaking situations to be in. The connections that we build with others are meant to nourish, support and strengthen. If a relationship is doing the opposite it is probably time to say goodbye.

My experience

I have had my fair share of experience with relationship disappointments. Trust me, there´s nothing worse than realizing that you decided to include the wrong people in your life. In my case,  I couldn´t help but feel responsible for the situation, for allowing myself to naively walk into the wrong relationships. The thing is, I take pride in seeking out the best in those that surround me, and while everyone certainly has virtues to appreciate, I eventually learned that not everyone´s best-self is a positive addition to my personal journey.

My most recent experience with toxic people was this year. I was spending time with an extremely negative girl on a daily basis. Despite trying to approach her positively when I first met her, I quickly began noticing how uncomfortable, judged and out of place I felt in her presence. As harsh as it may sound, there´s no way around it, she didn´t respect me at all and anyone could see it from miles away. She constantly disrespected me, my relationship with my boyfriend and other people around us. Negative comments, gossiping, back-talk, mocking faces, you name it; it was all part of her daily modus operandi.

Note: Let´s take a breather: I´m not saying she is evil. We never know what problems and monsters each of us carry. BUT no matter what those torments are, none of it is an excuse for letting ourselves become a monster for someone else. Yes, being kind and understanding is extremely important. However, not judging doesn't mean staying in a destructive environment out of empathy.

After spending time with her, I felt so moody, drained and tired, as if all of her negativity went right into me. I no longer felt peaceful or comfortable enough to be myself. While her personality may appeal to some, it simply didn't fit in with me. The peace, positivity, and joy I like to surround myself in are not compatible with having this type of people as friends. One day, after I came home utterly exhausted by the situation, I realized: I have no obligation to be around people that are bringing me harm. This is my life and feeling happy and comfortable is my priority. No one is worth sacrificing my peace of mind.

After that it was easy to make the decision, it was time to say goodbye. In the kindest way possible I walked away, modified the routine that included her to run smoothly without her, and that was it; she was out of my life for good.

Identifying Toxic

If your gut is telling you there´s something wrong with your relationship, chances are, there is. Feeling uncomfortable and unhappy in any kind of relationship is reason enough to end it. However, when dealing with abusive, manipulative, negative or toxic people sometimes identifying the problem, and most importantly accepting and coming to terms with it can be tricky. There are a few red flags that can help make the task of recognizing them easier.

A toxic person:
1. Constantly gossips about others and spreads rumors
It doesn't really take a genius to know that gossiping is a horrible practice and those engaging in it rarely have good intentions at heart. At its best gossiping is about finding entertainment at someone else´s expense; at its worst, it is about harming, mocking, judging and destroying reputations. If you are dating or hanging out with someone that finds that appealing you should watch out. Gossiping is a contagious bad habit and chances are if a person gossips with you, he/she is also gossiping about you.

2. Is dishonest, unreliable or not worthy of your trust
Broken promises and commitments can be incredibly disappointing but mostly they are a sign that you are placing your trust in the wrong hands. If you can´t count on a persons words, secrecy, and support you are better off alone.

3. Doesn´t respect you, your life decisions, or your time
The key point in healthy relationships is respect of each other´s individuality. If you don´t feel free to express yourself or do what you love for fear of losing your friend's or partner´s approval then you are not respected in that relationship at all. A healthy relationship involves an ally, not an enemy.

4. Constantly disappoints you or lets you down, while expecting the opposite from you.
You were supposed to meet up and you end up sitting at a table alone. Sounds familiar? Do you rush to their side in any of their emergencies, but when you are having a rough time your friend is nowhere to be found? Do they promised to do this and that, but they never actually get around to it? Sorry to break it to you, but the relationship is only flowing one-way.

5. Is manipulative and controlling. A toxic person will try to impose his/her will on others.
You should never feel obligated to do something you don´t want to do simply for the sake of someone else. Period. It´s not healthy; its a clear-cut sign of abuse.

6. Makes you feel afraid or as if you have to walk on eggshells around them
I´ve been here: feeling hurt and too scared to bring it up because you might end up feeling worse. It took me a while to learn this but I hope I can convince you of it: Your feelings and your thoughts matter. If you are in a situation in which you feel afraid you should walk away and reach out to someone.

7. Is extremely judgemental and critical of you and others.
Negativity can only create more negativity. Don´t be part of the cycle. The mouth speaks of what the heart holds so I urge you to surround yourself with people that empower, praise and give words of encouragement.

8. Acts and talks in a negative way, or treat others poorly
Don´t only pay attention to how a person treats you, look at how they interact with the world. That´s what will paint the truest picture of their identity. Are they rude? Do you witness them insulting or mistreating others? Pay attention to the warning signs.

9. Doesn´t help you succeed nor feels happy to see you doing well
It breaks my heart to realize how many people respond to others´ success with anger and envy rather than supporting happiness. Someone who loves you wants to see you be happy and successful. You don´t want to surround yourself with competitive and jealous people secretly trying to bring you down.

10. Lacks compassion or empathy
Being unable to put yourself in another´s shoes is not only uncaring, it is even a sign of an antisocial personality disorder.

11. They fight, argue, and are quick to lose their temper. The desire to win or be right is the most important thing.
If pride and winning have a higher rank than your relationship, there´s nothing there worth fighting for. Don´t surround yourself with aggression.

12. Is self obsessed and talk way more than they listen.
Balance is about there being space for both people to thrive. You don´t have to carry both of you on your own.

Don´t let the red flags slide. You are responsible for your life, and it´s your responsibility to establish barriers for how you allow others to treat you. If someone around you fits the list above, you are gaining so much by losing them. It can be hard to accept that someone that we love or care about isn´t good for us, but the only one capable of making that call is you. Only you have power over your relationships and only you can decide when to walk out.

How to end a toxic relationship

 1. Acceptance
 The most important step is gathering up the strength to accept the reality of the situation. When we realize that  someone we love and care about deeply is no better for us than poison, denial is no strange response. The key is to remember that our first most responsibility is to love and care for ourselves. It's at this point that you must make the decision to love yourself more and let go, however sad and difficult it may be. It all comes up to one principle: self-love. When you love yourself, you will realize your value and won´t ever tolerate behavior you don´t deserve

2. Stopping contact
The most efficient approach is the most radical. Stop communication, stop hanging out, stop answering their phone calls; simply cut the chord. Make plans with other friends and start reworking your daily life into a schedule that doesn´t depend on them to function. If approached about the change, kindly and calmly explain that you are moving on. (Note: being kind doesn´t mean not being firm with standing your ground. Toxic people can be very pushy and manipulating when realizing they are losing their victim)

3. Focusing on self-care
The end of any relationship can bring about a period of grief. Make sure to make looking after yourself a priority. Focus on building positive connections, pampering yourself, throwing yourself at your passions and hobbies, etc. I personally found so many great insight on self-care from this article on tiny buddha, so if you want some ideas on self-care you should totally check it out.

Finally, I want to leave you with this thought:
You can't change the people around you, but you can the people you choose to be around

Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? How did it make you feel? How did you end it? Share your insight below. That way we can all help each other.