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Healing

We are often told through the media and society that girls aren’t strong—and that boys aren’t emotionally strong—but we are. There are many ways we can be strong and save ourselves. Here are seventeen ways that Sarah in STAINED, and I, saved ourselves, and that you can, too:

1.) Trust your intuition, even when people pressure you not to or say that you are wrong.

2.) Believe in yourself the way you believe in those you love. Recognize your good qualities and strengths.

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We should not have to protect ourselves against rape, abduction, or violence out in the world. But since girls and women, especially (and boys, too) are attacked, it’s important to protect ourselves as best we can. These tips can help increase your safety:

1.) Keep alert to your surroundings.

2.) Trust your intuition. If you don’t feel right about a person or situation for any reason, listen to that.

3.) Avoid any situation or person that feels wrong. Prevention is the best option.

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It’s hard depressed, sad, anxious, or in emotional pain. And while it can be healthy not to run away from our feelings, or to be able to feel and express them, it’s also healthy—and important—to not overwhelm ourselves, to not get so stuck in painful emotions that they overwhelm or oppress us, and to give ourselves a break….

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There are many things that can make a person want to die—a desire to escape great emotional pain; intense and overwhelming despair, hopelessness, isolation, depression, anger turned inward; intense and prolonged self-hate; childhood abuse or trauma; and/or isolation and feeling like you don’t belong. … Often the desire to die (or to find relief from the pain) stems not just from one thing, but from a combination and accumulation of many things over time. But each of us deserves to live. It is our right, just by being born. We have the right to live, to breathe, to take up space on this earth, and to feel happy, loved, and comforted….

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It can be hard to find a little piece of inner calm—especially when things are hard. You probably know how much better you feel when you take time to find that calm place inside—but how many of us actually take the time to find that calm place when we are stressed out, or even on a regular basis?

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With the rush of daily life, the many responsibilities we have, societal expectations of what it is to be an adult, and the accumulation of painful experiences, many of us have forgotten how to play. We may have forgotten the simple joys you experienced as a child, or forgotten how to see beauty and wonder around us. We may even have lost some of our child-like joy and delight in the world. But there’s a way to connect back to some of that happiness, or to increase it—by letting your inner child play.

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Most of us, especially girls and women, are assaulted with negative messages about our bodies on a regular basis by magazines and newspapers, advertisements, “well meaning” family members, peers, and even friends. We’re shown computer-manipulated images of the “perfect” body—a body that is not natural for the vast majority of us, and can only be obtained through self-abuse and starvation….

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We often treat our friends better than we treat ourselves. We greet them with happiness and affection. We listen to them with compassion and understanding, and we don’t try to silence them when they need to grumble or complain. And we are unequivocally, unalterably on their side. How much of this do we do for ourselves?…

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Depression can be debilitating, and painful to endure. Once depressed, it is easy to keep spiraling further down. But there are many things that can help when you’re feeling down, even if only a little—and a little may be all you need to shift into a better place.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pay attention to how much you’re doing—the tasks you give yourself, the work you have to get done, the energy you give to others—and set aside some time that is just for yourself.
  • Put some uplifting essential oils on your face, chest, neck, wrists, and arms. Some uplifting essential oils are bergamot, geranium, basil, grapefruit, orange, and any other citrus essential oil.

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How many times have you done something you didn’t really want to? If you’re like me, it’s probably a lot of times. There are many reasons we agree to do things we don’t want to—thinking that we have to take care of others; thinking that someone else’s needs are more important than our own; fearing that someone will stop liking us if we say no; feeling like we don’t have the right to say no or to do what we need to do for ourselves; guilt; thinking that the “right” thing to do is to say yes; conditioning to be helpful, polite, and agreeable (especially for women); learned reactions stemming from child abuse; and so on and so on. But saying yes to something should always be a choice. ….

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Dreams. What are dreams? Dreams are soul food. Dreams are things that give us hope. And when they come true, they often give us joy and happiness. Dreams are important for us to hold onto, and to follow. I know when I have a dream inside me, and I listen, really listen, and work towards it coming true, I am filled with energy, and hopefulness, and happiness. Often, when people let go of a dream, when they lose it, something dies inside.

If dreams are so important to the soul, to happiness, then why do so many people try to discourage us from following our dreams? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of seeing us blossom into our full selves, because that’s a place they’ve never dared to go themselves.

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I don’t know about you, but I find that negative or hurtful messages zing their way into me faster and easier than positive ones. If, in an hour, seven people gave me real, glowing compliments, and one person criticized me, it is the criticism that I would notice, absorb, and obsess on for weeks. It is the criticism that I would turn over and over, looking at from all angles, like a misshapen stone.

It’s not hard to find criticism. It’s all around us–in the way the media says our bodies should be perfect. In people judging how we live, because they feel insecure about themselves. And of course, perhaps most powerfully, are all the negative messages we were taught and given as children, critical messages that we still play through our minds.

So how do we turn the tide on this wave of negative messages?

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Loving ourselves — being as compassionate, gentle, and loving with ourselves as we would with a best friend — can be pretty hard to do. This is especially true for women and survivors of abuse (including neglect).

As women and survivors, we’ve been trained to deny our own feelings and needs, and to take care of others. And we’re also frequently given messages that tell us not to accept or love ourselves. This is especially true for survivors; it’s so easy for us to take in the hating messages our abusers gave us, and to turn that inwards on ourselves.

But it is possible to love ourselves — or at least to increase our self-love in increments, until we can know, deep to our cores, that we love ourselves, and that we’re beautiful. Here are some of the things that have worked for me. I hope you’ll find they work for you, too.

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In the season of holiday giving, we often rush around trying to find the perfect gift for everyone—everyone except ourselves. We turn ourselves inside out, trying to please others, and lose some of our balance, our equilibrium. Taking the time to check inside and find out what we really need is an important and healthy thing to do. Maybe we need to find a way back to calmness, or maybe we need to connect back with ourselves. Perhaps we need to take some quiet time, or to buy ourselves something that will make us feel good, something that others would never think of getting us. Whatever it is you need to do, give yourself permission to do it. In taking care of ourselves, we make the world around us a better place, because we are more loving and centered people. And taking care of ourselves lets others know that they can do that, too.

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Have you smelled a flower lately? I mean really smelled one. Stood there and took in the scent as it courses through your body, looked at its delicate petals, its colour and shape, and felt its beauty and the calmness. Have you noticed the things around you—the things that you find beautiful, comforting, or reassuring? Really noticed them, not just noticed them on the edge of your consciousness. 

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You might wonder how procrastination applies to loving yourself. Well, if you procrastinate and are anything like me, you’ll put something off and put something off, all the while nagging yourself and feeling worse and worse about yourself. We put ourselves through so much–when really, we should just accept that we need to get to our goal slower, or even just be goal-less for a while.

I think that there’s often a good reason for procrastination. Our society sees procrastination as a negative thing–what are you doing putting it off; just get it done–but I think it’s a message to ourselves that we are not quite ready to do something yet. And that’s okay.

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