How To Stop Playing Small and Live the Life You Want

Do you play small in your life; in your relationships and at work? If you are unsure, read the following and see if playing small applies to you:

1. You wait to be asked or to share your truth(this is often a result of fear- read #2). Examples of this include waiting to share your opinion, waiting to talk at a meeting,  or waiting to share how you really feel with loved ones until and unless they bring issues up. You also wait to highlight just how talented you are unless asked by others to showcase your services. You hide. 

2. Fear overwhelms and ultimately defeats you. You fear rejection, judgment, disappointing others or losing love. So you comply with those around you both personally and professionally even if your soul is screaming that it wants something else. Even if your spirit calls you to be bold, brave and to spread your glorious wings; you clip them to make others comfortable. 

Speaking From Your Heart And Owning Your Truth

Communication can be challenging in any relationship and especially in one that is unhealthy. The fear of starting a fight, being rejected or ignored, or having your partner refuse to support you can feel unbearable. Whether the relationship has some type of abuse or addiction present or there has been past betrayal or abuse, speaking your own opinion or bringing up personal needs or wants can cause significant anxiety. You may have had one or many challenging experiences in the past with bringing up your needs, leaving you to want to bottle up any requests, leaving you feeling hopeless about any future attempts at communication. Or you may feel forced to live in what seems to be an unfair lie without the opportunity to share your truth of what you need.

So,how can you navigate speaking your truth when you feel suppressed and the consequences seem so high?

1) The first thing to do when you find yourself in a situation where you want to speak your truth is to discover what your underlying need is. When we have an underlying need that is not being met there will be different levels of chaos in our daily lives. For example, our sleep may suffer or we may lose motivation for self-care. One underlying need we all have is the need for connection, but if your need for connection is not being met, certain situations in your life may feel more intense. Seeing a happy couple walking down the street could either royally piss you off, making you feel jealous of their happiness, or it could make you feel sad, crippling you with the emotional pain and sadness for what you do not have.

Another underlying need we have is the need to feel accepted. When we bring up our needs to our partner and they reject us, we feel hurt and unimportant to them while validating the false belief:  “I’m not worth it (or them)." The need to feel accepted by your partner is a significant component of being able to speak your truth with them. By finding out which of your specific underlying need(s) you feel is/are not being met you will be able to be more clear when you speak your needs to your partner.

2) After discovering which underlying need is not being met, the next thing to do is discover what exactly is going to fulfill that need and asking for what you need in a loving way. For example, if your need for connection is not being met, you may express your need by saying to your partner, “I’ve noticed we’ve both been pretty busy lately and haven’t had much time for each other. Let’s go for a walk together or plan a date night this Friday.” It is important to avoid blaming, accusing, or attacking your partner with "You" statements and focusing on "I statements" related to what you need. 

3) Another important factor to consider when speaking your truth is making sure both you and your partner are in a good place to be open and receptive to each other. If your partner comes home late from work and you say in an accusatory way: “You never make time for me!” they will likely not know what your need is and will be unable to hear you. However, if you say, “I missed you today. I would love for us to spend some time together” your partner is likely to hear your request and support you in fulfilling your need. The first example is speaking from a place of anger and frustration while the second example is speaking from the heart and a place of love.

Being mindful of your tone of voice and checking in with yourself to make sure you are speaking from a place of love rather than a place of anger will help your partner be more receptive to you. Also, make sure your partner is in a good place to be receptive. Check in with them to see how their day was if they tend to come home feeling stressed out. If they are completely fried from a long day of work, give them some space to unwind. Or if they are really into a movie they’re watching, wait until the movie is over or ask them if they are in a space to pause it in order to talk. Remember, you want your partner to be in a good place so that they can be receptive AND you can feel heard as you speak your truth. 

4) The last thing to do when speaking your truth is to maintain strong boundaries. If your underlying need is to feel safe, be mindful to hold your boundaries of speaking what you need. Avoid having your needs be negotiated or waffling on asking for what you need. For example, if you’re having a heated argument with your partner and they start yelling at you, it is ok to call a time out, take some time to cool off, then come back and say “When I am being yelled at, I feel unsafe." If it is to the point where you need to leave it is ok to say, "If you continue yelling at me,  I will leave or you will need to leave.” Your partner might retaliate by continuing to yell or even attempt to justify why they are yelling at you. It is important to remain calm and to maintain your boundary of safety.

Speaking your truth from your heart and from a place of love will always feel better to you in the end. Regardless of how your partner responds to you when you speak your truth, you will feel more at peace with the fact that you spoke from your heart and continued to stay strong in voicing your needs. 

Key points to remember:

  • Discover what underlying need is not being met and specifically what will meet that need.
  • Make sure you are speaking from a place of love rather than a place of anger.
  • Make sure your partner is in a place to receive what you’re saying.
  • Maintain your boundaries as you speak your truth.

Enjoy the journey dear ones,

Annie Jacobs,LACMHC, EMDR Trained
Namasté Trauma and Addictions Specialist

Date Yourself, Date Your Spouse

We live in a disconnected culture of swipes, clicks, downloads, likes, and tweets. While some experts say this is how the latest generation connects and engages with one another, many people share feeling lonely, depressed, and long for real, organic, genuine intimacy.

Yet, even the word intimacy in and of itself is often misunderstood. Many people assume intimacy primarily has to do with being sexual. As Dr. Patrick Carnes explains in his classic workbook titled Facing The Shadows©1997, there are 12 Dimensions of Courtship. Intimacy is #7 on the list!

Intimacy, according to Carnes, entails an attachment to one's partner which requires an immense amount of vulnerability. The act of attaching to another person and expressing intimacy in this way has proved challenging for most people, especially with how much people snuggle up to their mobile devices while laying in bed rather than cuddling with their partner in order to share cozy details about their day. 

"You Got This." Finding Inner Strength to Achieve Your Day-To-Day Recovery

What if your inner voice, not the critic but the kinder, more gentle supportive inner voice, were to say this entire statement to you...

"I see you sitting there, dear one. Perhaps staring at your phone in a social media-medicated state. Or glaring at your bills piling up as you try to keep up with the disaster that your spouse has created for your family. Or perhaps you are waiting for the phone to ring to tell you that you don't have an STD from acting out(nor does your partner). Or, you have some solid recovery time from your primary addiction but can't quite kick your smoking or drinking or over-eating habit (or co-addiction).

I am here to tell you, you can do it. You Got This. When every day life tries to pull you down, it is just a test. The universe (or whatever you want to call it) has a masterful (and sometimes frustrating or even sickly humorous) way of putting experiences in front of us to see how strong we are, if we are ready to take on the challenge, if we have the strength and fortitude to get through the next 24 hours.

3 Effective Ways to Actually Achieve Your New Year's Recovery Resolutions!

This blog is written by our wonderful trauma and addictions specialist Annie Jacobs. 

Now that the hype of the New Year has calmed down, how are you feeling about your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you perhaps set an intention to start your recovery, or do more in your recovery? Do you find yourself already lagging behind your recovery goals and continuing to put them off saying to yourself that you will get to them ‘tomorrow’? Are you beating yourself up because you missed a day of your workout routine already or ate that one food you swore you would avoid this year? Are you looking into the rest of the year with despair or are you still riding your momentum and determination to achieve your goals? Perhaps you decided to avoid setting a goal for a New Year’s Resolution. 

The great thing about New Year’s Recovery Resolutions is you can set the restart button every day if necessary. Give yourself permission to start over instead of swimming in shame at not starting yesterday.