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How I Got Here

I am warning you now that this is probably going to be the longest post I will ever write, and it is going to get quite vulnerable. My story takes a number of turns before I start to figure out what I really want, what is in alignment with my true purpose, and start taking action to help me get there. If you find yourself in a place of complete confusion about the direction your life should take, maybe in a dark emotional space not sure how to get to the other side, or focused on healing from past wounds to create a better future for yourself.. stick around and you may gain inspiration from my story.

Growing up I always enjoyed reading and writing, to a point where I even attempted writing a novel in high school about a vampire in love… it was the time of Twilight if you couldn’t tell. For a long time I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and that flip flopped a bit into adolescence.

[Fair warning, this is where it starts to get real personal!]

It was when I experienced a sexual assault the summer after grade 10 that my commitment to that field really solidified. I wanted to be a prosecutor because it would enable me to make a difference for others who had been victimized by helping to bring their abusers to justice. This was unconsciously driven by my emotions surrounding my own situation, and not feeling as though I’d gotten any kind of justice or emotional support with the pain.

I fumbled my way through grade 11, formerly a “goody-two-shoes” type suddenly resorting to substances to help me dissociate from the internal pain that I was repressing. As a result of those habits, I started having vivid night terrors. This was a terrifying time in my life, and I was barely sleeping for months. I wasn’t sure what was causing the night terrors, all I knew was that I needed to make some drastic changes because I couldn’t keep going like that.

In giving up the substances, the night terrors went away. Looking back, I now see this as divine guidance… or more like a shove! Once I let go of the substances, I put all of my focus on my law goal. I also unknowingly transferred my dissociative habits with substances to new ones – emotional eating and binge-watching TV in isolation in my free time. As a result, I gained a significant amount of weight, my confidence plummeted, and I felt alone no longer connecting with my old friends.

Once I began my undergraduate degree, right out of the gate I focused every class I took in the Psychology and Criminology space. I was obsessed with the show Criminal Minds, so my goal shifted from law to becoming a Criminal Investigative Analyst (Canadian version of the show’s BAU). I even met with a woman in that role to learn more about it! I was told this unit was competitive and I would need to start out in high crime areas to get more exposure to the more extreme cases.

After two years without any substances at all, I caved to the culture and started drinking socially again. This ultimately led me down a path where I found myself sexually assaulted once again. Based on the last experience, this time I kept it to myself. I felt responsible for putting myself in the position for that to happen again, and I simply continued on with life and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.

After my 3rd year of classes, I got into health and fitness because I realized I was about to step into my graduating year once again overweight, isolated, and with very little confidence. I didn’t want to miss out on the grad events this time around, and I knew for that to be avoided that I needed to get control of my health. Once I got going, I found that if I shared all motivational and positive things on social media to inspire other people, it made me feel better too. This is where I started falling into toxic positivity and (spiritual) bypassing. I became a health and fitness coach and started running monthly challenges to help people lose weight, be healthier, or simply be more active.

Suddenly I wanted to do something with that, or perhaps my new passion for makeup, rather than something in the legal space. In my mind, if I continued down the path I was on professionally, I would be forced to see horrible things. I would be around people who had been seriously traumatized, and I wanted to focus on the fun and the positive. I can see now that I was just worried that if I saw those things or interacted with people who had been victimized, it would force me to confront the pain I’d been avoiding for years. As humans we have a tendency to push away anything that reminds us of our pain, even if we’re not consciously aware of it.

What we resist, persists.

Fast forward to the year following graduation:

I’ve got my Bachelor’s degree and not a clue what to do with it. I had no clear path in mind, so I applied for the RCMP and went through the motions. I passed the written test and potentially could have launched in that direction for my life had I decided to continue. I couldn’t decide if it was what I wanted, so I did what the old me always did in moments of indecision… I did nothing and made no choice, which I know now IS a choice.

I considered doing a Master’s program, and even went on an excursion to visit a school that I was considering in another province. I had two potential routes, one more focused on the criminology side coupled with my passion for travel and another focused on the psychology/mindset side coupled with my passion for fitness. Again, I didn’t know which was the “right” path to take, so I took neither and remained stuck.

In 2015 I ended up getting a job at an eLearning company with a role in Business Development, where I stayed for a year and a half. I transitioned into a Customer Success role in 2016, and that was when I really came into my own with the company and felt a bit more in alignment with who I am. Suddenly I felt like I was doing more of what I enjoy – writing, strategizing, coming up with ideas, helping people, etc.

This role means you get to coach learning and development professionals with the management of their organization’s learning program, understand their strategic priorities and program goals, and help them chart a course for achieving success. It’s been several years and I am still enjoying that role, now as a Senior Customer Success Manager. I realize now that I’ve been doing what I aspire to do in the future for the past several years and I didn’t even know it, only instead of working one on one with individuals, I am working with corporate leaders.

Where this story takes a bit of a turn is the beginning of 2020

This is something I think most people can probably relate to given what happened across the entire world when the pandemic hit. I ended a relationship that had been toxic for the both of us due to incompatibility, conflicting needs/wants, and childhood wounds. I had been in school part-time working on my makeup artistry license while working full-time during much of the time we lived together, and I had reached a point of total burnout. I was emotionally drained and completely shut down, and I became very overweight, unhealthy, and depressed yet again. I knew I needed to leave so I could get myself and my life back on track.

Once I was back in my hometown, I got back into my fitness routine and started feeling better gradually as my physical and mental health improved. In the spring, I decided to try dating apps and put myself back out there. I talked to this one man from an app every day, morning and night, for several months. Initially, due to the pandemic, we literally didn’t have the option to connect face to face with the restrictions in place. Then when the restrictions lifted, I tried to initiate a meetup. He started to pull away and things fell apart when I addressed it, leaving me drowning in intense emotions.

I didn’t understand why I had such strong emotions for a man I’d literally never even met. I know now this was the result of an emotional trigger. I stumbled onto an ebook that focused on inner bonding, which contained a wealth of journal prompts about your childhood, your emotions, unconscious thoughts and beliefs, etc. I started journaling about each and every prompt over a period of several months, making connections I’d never realized before about my childhood and how those experiences were shaping my current behaviour and emotional reactions.

As I was beginning that process, an old friend entered my life. He lives on the other side of the country, so again spending time together face to face was not an option. Much like the last man I’d been in contact with, he and I started talking morning and night every single day. He made me laugh and feel good, and I became addicted to that contact. After about 5 months of this with flirting ramping up, I realized after 15 years of friendship that I had real feelings for him. When I brought this up with him, he immediately started pulling away. The panic sets in with a past where those things indicate ultimate rejection/abandonment, and you assume it’s about to happen again. He insisted we were fine, though I could tell that things had changed.

I cared deeply for this person and couldn’t separate the emotions from the friendship. I needed more authentic communication, so it was painful to accept when the video messaging and meaningful conversations significantly decreased and shifted to low effort text communication. I’d been conditioned to look for signs of things going wrong and had an automatic response to try to fix it, and this change in consistency had all of my warning bells going off. After a month or two of experiencing a roller coaster of emotions, I decided to get a bit of external support. I recognized that this had become a pattern, and I needed to get to the bottom of it and put that to an end because it was extremely painful to keep repeating.

As you’ll see in the next chapter of this story, what I find really interesting about therapy is that you often go in with one problem and find many more you weren’t consciously aware of to finally process. That process of self-discovery and awareness is what really helps you move forward.

I started seeing a local therapist at the end of 2020. I spent 8 hours with this therapist, and ultimately decided to stop the sessions. It felt more like venting to a friend and having them agree with everything that I said more than it did actual therapy. Rather than throwing in the towel, I decided to go through BetterHelp to continue my treatment.

To be clear, I am not in any way affiliated with them, though I do recommend them!

Due to the in-depth onboarding questionnaire, I was placed with a therapist uniquely qualified to help me with my personal traumas. I started seeing immediate results after the first session, and I saw her on a weekly basis for many months. She gave me exercises to do to further my growth and self awareness, and through that process I started gaining better awareness for myself, which resulted in improved understanding and compassion for other people.

Side note – If you’ve ever tried therapy and found it unhelpful and/or unproductive, I encourage you to try again. Sometimes we have to try a few different therapists to find one with the experience we need to create a trusting and open relationship where you actually feel supported. Talk therapy doesn’t work unless you are able to be vulnerable and actually open up. You also get what you put in – most of my breakthroughs came in the work done outside of my sessions, and we talked through them when we met.

As I began working with the new therapist and started using the tools she had given me, I came to many realizations that were painful to accept. I gained more awareness about my own behaviours and beliefs, which I was able to tie back to my upbringing. It often feels like 5 steps forward and 3 steps back. I’ve learned this journey is not linear and you gain awareness to new things, take a brief reprieve to sit in those emotions and process, then get back at it.

This can also be an isolating process because as you become aware and communicate what you’ve learned, others around you may feel blame or judgment from your vulnerability. This can often lead to them getting defensive and/or pushing you away rather than supporting your growth. It is important for you to know that this is not your fault.

It is a result of their own unconscious shadow parts, which are being mirrored back at them as you heal and shine light on what they don’t want to face. The shadow work part of this process is probably what I struggle with most. Nobody likes to acknowledge the more unhealthy aspects of themselves because it really can be painful. Plus once you are consciously aware of them, it requires effort to consciously change, which is something not everyone is ready or willing to do.

My new therapist helped me get to a place where I understood why I was having these intense emotional reactions to the men in my life pulling away, getting distant, being inconsistent, or “ghosting” me. She helped me start to heal those parts of myself so that I could stop being so afraid of abandonment or rejection and actually communicate what I needed regardless of the outcome. Of course this meant I ultimately ended up losing that connection with the friend of 15 years, even though he had admitting to having feelings for me as well. That said, I know that in the long run I gained a better connection with, and respect for, myself in the process of finally setting and standing firm in my own boundaries and needs.

Was it painful? Oh HELL YES. It was excruciating.

It hurt to risk losing that relationship and accepting the loss that followed, and I did it anyway because I knew if I didn’t that it would only hurt longer. I have learned that we can’t ignore our needs to keep people in our lives that don’t want to be there fully. If we do sacrifice our needs to keep someone in our life just because we don’t want to lose them, we ironically reject and abandon ourselves, which deepens those unconscious emotional wounds and causes us more internal pain and suffering. This means that we’ll only end up worse off in the long run because those needs are not going to go away, and we’ll only grow more hurt and resentful over time if the person we’ve kept in our lives is unwilling to meet them.

Skip ahead to one year after I started doing the inner bonding/shadow work:

I attended a free 6 day conference called Own Your Future with Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi to help shift my focus and gain momentum in my career. I gained an incredible amount of information and inspiration to really shift my life. I watched Tony’s Netflix special “Not Your Guru” and signed up for his Unleash the Power Within (UPW) conference in June.

The UPW conference changed my life. I shifted to a plant based diet, I started focusing even more on my spiritual practice, I gained more awareness of myself and both what I wanted and what was holding me back. I also got introduced to KINRGY Expanded Fitness, which has been a huge blessing. The most significant thing that I got from this conference was an understanding that I needed to come back to my roots, and I needed to stop drowning in indecision and allowing myself to stay stuck.

Because I had all of these different passions – makeup, fitness, helping others, psychology – I had been scared to pick a route and choose “wrong”. At UPW, Tony showed me you don’t HAVE to choose a single passion and you can do something that ties those passions together. I started getting genuinely excited for my future because I saw a way to do everything I wanted to do simultaneously.

I’d been focused so much on healing myself, and I’d come so far! I decided to invest in a certification program that would enable me to become a coach, and I am so excited for the day that I get to embark on that next chapter and start working with clients. Right now I am focused on getting myself completely to the other side of my own mess because I recognize that I still have some work to do, and I am fully committed to getting there!

While I focus on my personal growth journey and my education, I want to share what I learn. As I continue down this path, I want to bring you along for the ride in hopes my journey might inspire or assist you with your own. If anything, I hope it helps you feel less alone if you find yourself in a similar dark place trying to find your way back to the light.

I will be sharing a mix of my own personal journey along with reflections and things that I learn through the books, podcasts, coursework, and anything else I do that can add some value. If you made it to the end, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my story. I hope you found something here of value, and would love to hear from you if you did! Please drop a comment if you can relate to any of this and let me know what takeaways you may have.

With love and light,

Jessica

Public Perception of Will Smith vs Chris Rock

I’ve seen a lot of the responses in relation to the incident at the Academy Award ceremony recently between Will Smith and Chris Rock. The responses tend to be polar opposites with people either praising Will and pointing anger at Chris for the insensitive joke, or villainizing Will for the act of violence and defending Chris.

In this post I am going to share a different perspective for consideration. I’ll use myself and my experience as an example. Then I’ll give you an exercise to try for yourself.

What stood out most to me as I watched the aftermath of the event were the posts made by multiple women stating, “if my man doesn’t defend me like this, I don’t want it”. This resonated with me because there is a part of me that could relate. Then I looked at it from the lens of everything I’ve been learning these last few years, and I came to a realization.

Much like many of the women I’ve seen making those types of comments referenced above, I too used to think it would be sweet for a guy to use violence against someone in my honor. I can think of one situation in particular where I watched a movie with a past partner about two brothers that went off with a vengeance trying to save one of their spouses who had been abducted. My partner at the time got all macho and protective, claiming he’d do the same thing if it were ever me.

I remember reacting very positively. I took as a symbol of strength and protection or something, which made me feel safe, happy, and loved. I also remember trying to relay that experience to someone else later on, almost like I was bragging about my boyfriend’s strength and love for me. I actually find this really funny now, but in the moment I was angry and annoyed when the person I told gave me a weird look after I relayed the story.

Rather than being happy for me, they were concerned. Others could see how toxic that mindset was back then, but I couldn’t.

Several years have passed since this experience, and in that time, I’ve experienced a lot of healing, growth, and learning. Looking back, I recognize that I felt this way with my partner because I was seeking the kind of feelings I didn’t consistently have as a child through my adult relationships. I know now that is not healthy for me, nor is it healthy or fair expectations to place on romantic partners.

With this new understanding, I see the kind of emotional outburst we saw with Will Smith more as a lack of emotional maturity and self-awareness. I can think of times in my life when I’ve used violence against others in an emotional outburst as well, and looking back I would say the same thing about my prior self in those situations. If we’re being driven unconsciously by our past pain, we often end up hurting others.

Even the people we love most. Even when we don’t mean to or want to.

I’ve found that violence and aggression stops being attractive when you recognize a true symbol of strength is self awareness and the emotional intelligence to be able to handle conflict without violence. It’s not as cute when you realize that it is an impulse or unconscious pattern. As a result, those outbursts could easily redirect toward you under the right conditions. This can apply with physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse.

The incident at the Oscars was a mild situation and I’m in no way implying Will Smith would be abusive to his wife. That said, I felt I should share this different perspective as something to keep in mind when it comes to general mindset on this topic.

The posts I saw praising the behaviour is problematic because the next generation is watching and learning from ours. If this attitude is adopted and normalized widescale, it can put more people at risk of experiencing abuse. Conversely, the posts I saw villainizing Will is equally problematic because it fails to address the cause – unconscious trauma.

Domestic violence and abuse – be it physical, verbal, or emotional – or such abuse in general, is often the result of these types of unconscious patterns and emotional outbursts based on unconscious pain from the past. Abusers aren’t abusive all the time, and that’s how people often get stuck in those situations long term. It is up to us to take notice of this type of behaviour and monitor for signs of a pattern.

Remember: Hurt people, hurt people.

If we want to see a reduction in this type of behaviour in our culture, a good place to start is by putting an end to condoning this type of behaviour in ALL situations… even when provoked by insensitivity or even intent to hurt with words, such as a case like Will & Chris.

Lead by example. Seek to become aware of your own patterns. Give yourself the time and space to heal, and put in the effort to break the patterns that are no longer serving who you want and choose to be – because that is the real you. Invite others to do the same.

If you’re open to it, at this time I would like to invite you to do a little exercise.

Take a few minutes to think about your dating and relationship history. Do you have a pattern of ending up with people who are irritable? A bit of a hot head? Emotionally or physically abusive – to you or to others?

If you’re still with me, try taking it back a bit further.

What was your childhood experience like? Did you experience and/or witness domestic violence or abuse? Were your parents irritable and unpredictable? Did you grow up in a loving and nurturing environment, or did you feel more isolated and alone?

If you made a connection about yourself with this exercise, please put some thought into what I’ve said above. Maybe we grew up in a chaotic environment and that is what feels normal to us, so we unconsciously seek out what feels familiar.

If that is the case, I want you to know that we can teach ourselves to look at things differently and place higher value on other attributes in relationships. The partners we end up with aren’t always healthy for us, and we can change this by changing the story around the behaviour itself.

For more depth on this topic, I encourage you to read an incredible post by a psychiatrist.

I hope you found this helpful! If you learned something new and would like to share, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

With love,

Jess

So You Think You Have an Addictive Personality?

Throughout my life I’ve often said things like: “I have an addictive personality” or “I’m just an all or nothing kind of person“. Nobody, including myself, ever really questioned that. Until the last few years. Now I’m calling bullshit on myself.

Give me a few minutes, and you might too.

In my lifetime I have had an unhealthy relationship with substances, food, social media, television, and more. I would even go as far as including fitness and personal development in that list. Crazy to think of those really great things as unhealthy, right?

Let me explain.

I have been digging deep into the underbelly of my past, analyzing my patterns, and facing everything I’d tried so hard to bury and avoid. In so doing, I realized that those “unhealthy relationships” with everything that I listed above were simply a means to an end. A distraction from what I wasn’t ready to face. An escape.

I jumped from one habit to the next, interchanging vices when it became apparent the flavor of the month was unhealthy. It started in high school with substances, which helped me to escape my own mind and feel good for a change. When things got rough and I couldn’t continue as I was any longer, I traded substances for binge eating and watching television alone in my room.

With the new vices, I was able to dissociate from reality and check out from my mind in a new way. When I became medically classified as obese, depressed, and lonely from isolating myself in shame, I traded the excessive eating and lounging for health and fitness. That helped me get into shape, feel more confident, and start living my life again.

So what’s bad about that, right?

Well… I reached the point where my weight loss journeys always seemed to plateau. I was working out 6 days a week, and I started doubling up workouts thinking I needed to go harder. I was working my body so hard, determined to crush my goals, that I actually ended up injuring myself.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of an injury like this, the next part may make you cringe. I heard a popping sound and my leg caved in during a stretch. It startled me enough that I paused and shook myself off to assess damage. I seemed fine, so I convinced myself it was nothing and pushed myself to finish the workout.

Unfortunately I’ll never know what would have happened had I not continued with that second workout. What I do know is that I had to pull myself up two flights of stairs by the railing while hopping on one foot when I finished that workout. It took over 2 weeks for me to regain the ability to bear weight on the injured leg enough to walk without support of a crutch or a cane. It’s been 5 years since the injury, and my knee still has not fully recovered.

What about personal development… how is that possibly unhealthy? – you may ask.

That one took me by surprise too. I learned about this concept last year during Mastin Kipp’s Claim Your Power LIVE conference: spiritual entertainment. Growth (personal development) is food for the soul. However, sometimes we can use it as a way to cope with, or dissociate from, things we are trying to avoid too.

In my case, that meant jumping from course to course, conference to conference, book to book. Mastin reminded me that we can sometimes run so fast after our healing and growth that we can run right past our breakthroughs. We don’t give ourselves time to integrate the lessons or actually learn anything from them, we just consume all the things and become frustrated when we don’t reach the desired destination.

As Tony Robbins likes to say, knowledge isn’t power. It’s what you do with it once you have it that matters. You see, we all conceptually KNOW what actions we should take to solve some of our problems. And yet, we don’t execute on them.

You can study how to play a sport, but will that make you a great player if you have no experience and don’t practice? The same applies to personal development. You can keep consuming material and learning new strategies, but your life is unlikely to see real change until you start executing on what you’ve learned.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that even really good things can be used as coping mechanisms or vices without our conscious awareness. Mastin has a great 3 minute video that outlines the difference between low-level coping (substances, toxic relationships, violence) and high-level coping (exercise and dieting, meditating, self-help tools).

This was eye opening for me because I realized that while I was doing all of these positive things for my life, I genuinely thought I was doing great and “healed”. Looking back now, I see that I had actually fallen into toxic positivity and (spiritual) bypassing. That “fake it til’ you make it mentality. Positive vibes only – avoiding anything that stirs up the shadows.

Don’t get me wrong… I was making more progress than I ever had with the low-level coping, but I still felt like I was treading water. I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be because I was still unconsciously using those high-level coping tools as a distraction or an escape.

I was trying to take the easy way out and move PAST my past rather than face it and move through it. That rarely works, and that is often why there are so many yo-yo dieters. It is why the gyms are full every January, only to go back to normal capacity within a few months as New Year’s Resolutions end early.

If that sounds familiar, know that it’s not lack of willpower. It’s not that you don’t want it badly enough. It’s not that you are lazy either.

The reason we get so far only to fall off the wagon and return to our comfort zone is because we haven’t addressed the root of the issue. It’s like slapping a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches. It may heal eventually. Though it could also get infected, take much longer to heal, leave you suffering in pain longer, and leave you with a nasty scar.

What we resist, persists.

If you started reading this thinking that you, or someone you know, had an addictive personality, I hope you found this post informative and relatable. I hope that it helped you see that it is much more likely that those patterns of being all-in for different habits is actually a symptom of a different issue entirely.

To name a few:

  • Unhealed, most likely unconscious, traumas.
  • Old limiting belief systems that were passed down from family or imparted on you through public education, social conditioning, or the media.
  • Unhealthy learned patterns that keep landing you in the same painful situations.

You deserve so much more! Only you can make it happen though. You have to be brave. Be willing to go deep within and face what you’ve tried to repress and ignore.

It won’t be comfortable, and it will hurt more before it gets better. But it WILL get better as you face and move through everything you tried to bury. That is how you heal and find inner peace.

So ask yourself a question. What is worth suffering for?

Would you rather stay in the same repeated cycles that keep bringing you pain over and over again? Would you rather keep treading water, struggling for every inch of progress? Or would you rather do the inner work that will set you on a course to a much brighter future?

Only you can make that choice. I hope you choose the latter, because you are worth the effort!

With love,

Jessica

Why is Learning so Important?

These daily words of wisdom from Napoleon Hill really resonated with me. When we learn, it actually generates dopamine (pleasure chemical) to make us feel good.

Have you ever learned something new and suddenly found yourself excited? That is because learning brings a sense of achievement and pride, which gives us drive and purpose.

If you work out, I liken it to beating a personal record or conquering an exercise you couldn’t do before. The mind is like a muscle in that way. When we learn something new we exercise that muscle, and it brings with it a sense of accomplishment.

Of course self-care is important, though I’ve learned there is an important distinction to be made between true self-care and self-abandonment/dissociation through escapist behaviours. It’s important to recognize that difference and not get lost in the endless social media spiral, consistent TV binge-watching, regular substance abuse, etc.

Those are all habits we develop to escape from our current reality, even if only for a while. What if instead, we actively worked on building a life that we didn’t need to escape from?

Make a conscious effort to prioritize learning. Try new things without fear of failure. Know that it is totally okay to be a beginner at something! Challenge yourself in new ways.

Do these things consistently over time, and you may be surprised by the positive impact it can have on all areas of your life!

Adopt Tony Robbins’ CANI philosophy – Constant And Never-Ending Improvement. Embrace the fact that the human experience is all about learning and growing, at all stages of life. Become a lifelong learner.

Why?

Because you deserve to live a life you love. A life that is filled with passion, fulfillment, and happiness.

With Love,

Jessica

Do You Operate With Emotional Courage?

I was listening to some leadership insights, and this quote really resonated with me:

“Emotional courage is the willingness to feel everything, and if you’re willing to feel everything, you can do anything”

– Peter Bregman, CEO and Bestselling Author.

I love this perspective! This explains why we often struggle to have difficult conversations. It’s most likely not because we lack the skills to communicate what we want to say.

Rather, it’s more likely to be because we know that saying what we want to say may challenge us. That it could potentially make us feel things that we don’t want to feel. If addressing something seems as though it will result in discomfort, we often push it away. We try to avoid it.

Overcoming this means learning how to be present with yourself in sitting through negative emotions and situations, building strong self-awareness, and being able to manage your emotions while communicating effectively. Did you know that being self-aware and having higher emotional intelligence is linked to a greater sense of happiness overall?

Why?

Because in building these skills you gain self-confidence, become a better communicator, are able to better understand and relate to others, gain more empathy and compassion for others, etc. These skills can be applied to all aspects of your life, with all interpersonal relationships.

Making an effort to hone those skills has the potential to improve all of your relationships both in and outside the workplace. It will help you become a better version of yourself, enabling you to show up as your best for those in your life. Who wouldn’t want that?!

Do you lead and move through life with emotional courage? Let me know in the comments!

With love,

Jessica

“New Year, New Me”

I wrote the message I am about to share in January on social media, and I wanted to share it here with all of you as well. I think this is an important message for all.

Especially if you set some new year resolutions, and are already starting to feel yourself slipping back to old patterns. Maybe you already gave up on the resolution(s) entirely.

If so, this is for you!

“Instead of aspiring to be different this year, how about aspiring to be more authentic? More true to you?

Make this a year of self discovery. A year of growth. A year of letting go of old habits and patterns that are weighing you down, holding you back from what you are really capable of in this lifetime.

The fact that you have goals and desires that you are passionate about means that you are meant for more than your current experience, and you can have it. It’s not about implementing new habits and behaviours, at least not initially.

First, you’ve got to dig deep and uproot the foundation on which old dysfunctional and unproductive patterns and behaviours are built. Once those are brought to awareness, they can be adapted and replaced to move you closer in alignment with your true self.

The self that isn’t held back by fear, doubt, or insecurity. The self that is free to just BE. That sounds like something I want too 💖”

So if you set some intentions and goals for the new year and only made it a few weeks, know that it is not your fault.

You’re not lazy.

You’re not a failure.

It’s not that you have no willpower or that you are incapable of change.

The truth is that you have some limiting beliefs and unconscious patterns of behaviour that are holding you hostage. It’s not just about finding a strong enough “why” as others may tell you, at least not in the way it is often presented. Rather, it is about uncovering the true reason, the unconscious one, that keeps you returning to the same unproductive or unhealthy patterns you are trying so hard to kick.

If you can muster up the courage to look deep within yourself, you will find the real purpose for those behaviours. With that awareness comes power. Once you become aware, you can catch yourself in those moments with full understanding of what need you are really trying to meet in that moment. That, coupled with the traditional “why” for making a change, will help you to overcome the thing that has been holding you back once and for all.

With love,

Jessica

Food 4 Thought for Parents: What Really Matters?

This holiday season I have been reflecting a lot about my childhood, my experience with both parents, and the impact my experience has had on me as an adult. I wanted to put some of my thoughts together and share my experience to help parents heading into the holiday season. I may not be a parent, though I do think this perspective may help some make positive shifts while it is still possible.

We’ll start with a little bit of background. My parents were separated before I turned 1, and let’s just say… it did not end amicably. I grew up with holidays, birthdays, and all other special occasions being duplicated at each home. As a kid, I loved that because it meant more gifts, more turkey dinner, more fun, etc.

As I’ve been undergoing my own personal “re-construction” through therapy, shadow work, and other healing modalities this past year, I’ve come to some realizations about the differences in each home life. This difference is not limited to the holiday season, but that’s where we start.

On my maternal side, the tradition was to go to my grandparents’ house on Christmas eve and open gifts with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. This was often awkward and tense, as the relationship between my mother and her parents had always been strained. Beyond the Christmas eve tradition, I have very little memory of the holidays at my mother’s. We opened gifts and I got ready to go with my dad.

On my paternal side, the tradition involved a lot of family activities. I remember leaving mix out for the reindeer and cookies out for Santa, spending quality time as a family, and being allowed to open one gift before bed in anticipation of Christmas morning. Christmas day involved opening gifts, breakfast as a family, playing with the gifts, and going to my other grandparents’ house for Christmas dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins on that side. It was always lighthearted and fun.

Do you see some of the main differences there?

Fast forward to adulthood, I came to the realization that I had been raised by an emotionally unavailable mother due to her own unresolved trauma. By someone who grew up with abuse and was never taught unconditional love. As a result, she thought showing love meant spending the most money… a false belief she instilled in me, which I’ve worked to eliminate.

When I would come home from my fathers’ and shared what I had received, it always seemed to be a competition. In fact, that was the first question I heard after being with my dad’s side of the family last Christmas. I got the traditional eye roll with a comment on how cheap my father was after sharing. For the first time in my life, with this new perspective and awareness I’ve cultivated, I commented back that the gift wasn’t what mattered.

As I reflect on all of this, it made me look at it from a bigger lens: my entire childhood.

I spent very little time with my father, only every second weekend and one evening a week. And yet, the time we did spend together was meaningful. He was present, he did things with us, he took us to the beach, the park, the playground. We went on family vacation every summer for a full week staying at a family cottage. We made memories.

When I reflect on my childhood time spent with my mother, I have a blank page in my mind. I don’t remember much of significance. When I ask about things we did together there are only two experiences she can name, both from a time when I was too young to remember. The reality is, I can’t remember experiences that I never had.

I was often told how infuriating it was for my mother when I put my father on a pedestal as a child because she was the one that had me full-time. I was reminded of how much she had to spend on me with my father getting off easy. She couldn’t understand why I valued him as much as I did because she was comparing her “investments” to his.

Just a week shy of 29, I understand it for the first time.

In case you missed it in my rambling: My mother focused on the financial investments of the holiday season (and parenting in general). My father focused more on the time investments.

As a child, the focus on the financial was never fulfilling. The gifts did not make up for the loneliness and isolation that I felt in having a mother that was emotionally cut off and didn’t have time or energy to spend being present with me. She placed all emphasis of the holidays and special occasions showering me with gifts, thinking that was love. What I really needed in that time was her presence and active involvement.

As a grown woman reflecting on her childhood, I can say with certainty that I cherish the memories made over the gifts. I don’t remember the gifts my mother got me as a child, no matter how expensive or flashy. And yet, I’ll always have the memories that I made with my dad and that side of the family.

Moral of the story!

Please do some reflecting of your own if you are a parent. Consider the approach you have been taking with your child(ren) thus far and if it may need some adjustment. Set priorities.

That is important at any time, though especially for the holidays. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling your kids if you have the means to do so. However, don’t let that be your primary method of showing love.

Don’t let your kids grow up with no memory of their childhood holiday experience with you because it was centered solely around gifts. Create your own family traditions, even if its a single parent/single child family unit. Spend quality time together. Be present.

Make sure they FEEL loved through your actions and the memories you make together, and not just from your words or the gifts you give them. Words hold no meaning without reinforcing action, and the high of getting a gift goes away fast.

Memories are the true gift.

With love,

Jessica

Are you Waiting on Someone to Change?

Do you find yourself in a relationship, situationship, dating, or “talking” to someone that you care deeply about who is engaging in toxic behaviour?

Maybe they are distant and emotionally unavailable. Maybe they are manipulative and controlling. Maybe they are lazy and expect you to put in all the work. Maybe they are leaving you on read and ignoring you for days at a time.

Whatever the case may be, I invite you to think about your situation. Have you expressed what you needed to change? Have you told them how the behaviour was impacting you?

If you answered yes to those questions, ask yourself if they have made an effort to step up.

If they apologized and promised to do better, but nothing ever changed… that is manipulation. If rather than taking accountability for the issue that you raised, they got defensive and deflected blame onto you instead… that is projection. If they denied your perspective entirely, said you were being too sensitive, that you are crazy, that you were making it up, that the experience you described didn’t happen… that is gaslighting.

It’s all toxic AF.

Now I’m not saying that person is bad or toxic. I personally strongly dislike the overuse of the word “toxic” as it applies to people. No person is inherently toxic, it is their behaviour that makes someone toxic to others. Because we are all very different, what is toxic for one person may be just what another needs. That is why I don’t believe in labeling any person “toxic”, though they can still be toxic FOR YOU.

That said, if you find yourself in a situation with someone that fits into any of what I just described above… please stop waiting around hoping for them to change their behaviour. I truly believe that everyone is capable of change, but they have to want it and choose it for themselves. If they’ve shown you time and time again that they aren’t willing to change their behaviour when you’ve clearly defined what you need, believe that.

Do yourself a favor. Walk away.

If they truly valued you, their fear of losing you would be strong enough to push them to step up. If that isn’t happening, nothing you say or do is going to change that.

At a certain point we have to stop asking why they continue with the behaviour they know is hurting us and start asking ourselves why we are allowing it. We have to stop blaming ourselves and wondering what we could do differently to be enough for them to want to change. The truth is we’re already enough. It is due to their own internal struggle, not us.

You don’t need to lower your expectations because what you’re asking is a level of effort they are unwilling to invest to keep you. You’re not asking for too much, you are likely just asking the wrong person.

I know that hurts to accept. It fucking sucks. It doesn’t get any less painful the longer you wait around though, trust me. Choose yourself. Walk away so you have the opportunity to find the person that will care about you enough to put in the effort.

You’re worth it 💖

With love,

Jessica

Reframing Negative Self Talk

This image is probably going to trigger some people. I’m sharing it anyway because the point it presents is so important! People don’t give our minds enough credit.

Our mind has a ridiculous amount of power. Whatever you feed it determines the trajectory of your life. I still have moments where I have thoughts in the “don’t” column… often, and I recognize that they will probably never go away entirely.

What I’ve learned though is that I can shift them. When I notice a limiting thought, I actually say to myself something more in line with the “do” column. Framing is everything.

Maybe your current circumstances prevent you from having or doing something now, but you can frame it in a way that makes it seem possible in the future. Maybe you’ve “always” struggled with something in that past, but you can frame it in a way that makes it seem like it can change. Reframing thoughts allows you to look for opportunities and steps to get you closer to what you want, rather than remaining stuck somewhere you don’t want to be.

The examples in the photo are just that, examples. This could look very different from person to person. For me, it often centered around negative self-talk.

If I looked in the mirror and thought to myself “you look fat“, I would mentally correct myself. I would tell myself “you have worked so hard and made so much progress!” I would remind myself of all of the positive changes I’ve made with my health and reinforce that I am not fat and I am doing great.

Let’s say I made a mistake, forgot something, or did something a little thoughtless and thought to myself “you’re an idiot” or “you’re so stupid“. In this case I would mentally correct myself in saying “you may have done something a little dumb, but that doesn’t MAKE you dumb”. I would remind myself that everyone makes mistakes, and those mistakes are not what defines them as a person.

When thinking about my dating history, I could say “I always pick the wrong men“. A more empowering way to approach that would be “up until now, I’ve struggled with accepting less than I am worthy”. This acknowledges the past challenge while also recognizing that I am learning and growing, making it possible for me to change this pattern going forward.

These reframes take only a few seconds to perform, and they are super helpful. Instead of ruminating on the bad feeling or thoughts, reframing helps to shift you into a more positive and empowered state of mind. Call me crazy for talking to myself all you want, but it works!

Who’s up for a fun growth activity?

If you’re open to a challenge, try paying attention to the way you speak to and about yourself for a few days. Notice how you think about yourself, your performance at work, etc. Any time you notice a negative or pessimistic thought, think about how it could be reframed. Keep a journal somewhere of the negative thoughts and the empowered reframes you come up with.

If you have any that came up often or that feel really heavy for you, it may help to put that somewhere visible. You could print the reframes off and keep the sheet somewhere you will be able to see it and read it daily, or simply when it comes up and you need that reminder. You could put them on sticky notes and post them somewhere you see often. If you have a morning practice, you can incorporate reading the most critical reframes into that routine.

The more often you can remind yourself of the empowered reframes, the better. Essentially what you are doing is training your mind to think in a new way. To look for the positive and the possibilities. To keep you open for expansion and not held back by negativity. To step closer to the happy life that you want to create.

If you give this exercise a try, let me know how it goes! I would love it if you shared your most impactful reframes in the comments.

With love,

Jessica

Do You Identify as a People Pleaser?

Do you find yourself giving and giving to everyone around you? Getting frustrated when you feel a lack of reciprocation? Maybe you start to think that you’re just not meant to get as much love as you give. Sound remotely familiar? If so, this might help you understand why.

Learning about different ways to understand personality has been very eye opening for me. One of my recent explorations was with the four personality quadrants. I learned that people typically have a more dominant quadrant in each pair, with one primary quadrant in the lead. There is the supporter vs controller and the analyzer vs promoter. I found that my dominant quadrants indicated I was a supporting analyzer.

Today I am going to talk about the supporter. As a supporter, one of the biggest problems that you face is giving too much of yourself to others. You genuinely want to help other people and really enjoy making them happy. As a result, you may say yes to things you don’t really want to do or sacrifice your own needs to avoid disappointing someone else. You may do this with the expectation that when you need them, they will be there for you in the same way. Though that often results in disappointment for you if/when they aren’t.

You may try to be agreeable and bend to others’ needs and wants, so you may start to feel unappreciated over time when it feels like nobody is taking your needs into account in return. It may start to feel like you’re never getting reciprocation from the people around you and that you are always the one to make sacrifices. This can lead to burnout from taking on too much, and can even result in building resentment toward the people that you are helping.

Another primary challenge when it comes to being a supporter is having difficulty when it comes to confrontation, setting boundaries, and speaking up for yourself. Because you shy away from confrontation and don’t want to risk upsetting people, you tend not to speak up for what you want and need. This is problematic because others can’t possibly consider your needs if you are unable to express them. You’re so used to doing for others, you have a hard time setting boundaries to ensure you have the time that you need for yourself.

When it comes to romantic relationships, the biggest challenge for the supporter is keeping your identity and independence. It is really easy for the supporter to lose themselves in relationships trying to make the other person happy and comfortable. This is because supporters often try to treat others how they wish to be treated. Supporters also have a tendency to wind up in codependent relationships (likely with people that have a dominating controller quadrant) because they have such a difficult time putting themselves first and practicing selfcare. That is great for a controller type that likes to (you guessed it) be in control.

If this resonated with you, then it is likely you may also be a supporter.

Gaining insight around your personality type allows you to look at it holistically. You can see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, which enables you to work on strengthening the areas where you struggle. Knowing about these quadrants and where you fit helps you see how yourself and others relate to one another. This helps you better understand your relationships with those currently in your life, or those who had been in your life before so you can learn from those situations. Now that you have a sense of the personality style in general, let’s look at some real life examples.

Looking back at my life, I know that being a supporter has impacted my life in many different ways, including my friendships, relationships, and even my work. It helped me see that I’ve lost many friends because I felt unappreciated and grew resentful toward them from a conflict in our dominating personality type. I lost friends and relationships because I was unable to set boundaries for myself, ask for help, or communicate my needs properly.

I would invest a lot of time, energy, and sometimes even money into people that I cared about. One example is how I used to plan and throw birthday parties for friends complete with gifts, a cake, decorations, etc. I went over the top wanting them to have a great birthday and feel appreciated and loved. When my birthday rolled around, those same people wouldn’t take part in anything to celebrate with me. It makes you feel insignificant, and that hurts.

When there was consistently no effort put forward in return for my own, I pushed a lot of people away feeling hurt and resentful. It makes you feel like you’ve been used, or taken advantage of, by people that don’t seem to care about you at all. Sometimes that could be true. In other cases, it could simply be that they have a conflicting personality style and don’t realize how important their support is to you. That pesky limitation of the supporter not speaking up for needs and wants can be in part at fault for these types of mishaps.

Another example is the flaky promoter friends that are always looking for new and exciting things to do. You will make plans, but something else will come up later. The promoter gets excited and completely forgets about the original plans, and this makes the supporter feel like they don’t matter. You feel like an outsider and as though they only want to spend time with you when there is nothing better to do. I’ve had several friends like this, and recognize that I have distanced myself from them in the past for similar reasons.

In relationships, the impact of this style has been even stronger. At first you may try to do everything to make life easy for the other person. To do things that will make them feel loved and supported. They may get accustomed to this and come to expect it as the norm, never really reciprocating the way you expected. When you start to get frustrated and resentful that they never take initiative to try to help you or make you feel loved and supported in the same way, those negative emotions can build. Eventually it will reach a boiling point that often takes them by surprise because they don’t understand where the “sudden” upset is coming from.

When this happened in my last relationship, I totally shut down. We moved in together and I unpacked and decorated the majority of our apartment by myself, tried to stay on top of the cleaning, and had supper started or ready most nights before he came home. He worked a physically demanding job and I was working from home, so the supporter/caretaker in me tried to make things easier on him. Then I started school part-time on top of working a full-time job. At that point I was juggling so much that I was unable to keep the balls in the air.

Self-care was the first to go, and I started missing my workouts quite a bit being too tired and overworked. The house was messier and we ate out more often because I didn’t have the time or energy to clean or cook. I started gaining weight, feeling down on myself, and felt consistently exhausted and burnt out. At that point I expected him to pull a bit more weight without needing to be asked, recognizing that I was drained and stepping up. When that didn’t happen, everything I had described above took hold and the resentment grew.

Of course there were other factors involved in that relationship ending, but this pattern was a big realization as I reviewed the personality quadrants. With this new understanding, I’ll be better able to recognize and prevent the pattern from repeating in future. The awareness of this aspect of myself will enable me to actively practice being more vocal about my needs and setting healthy boundaries in interpersonal relationships.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which this particular personality quadrant can impact your personal relationships. You may even find that my stories resonate with you and some of the situations you’ve found yourself in with others. If not from the perspective of a supporter, maybe from a different perspective of interacting with a supporter. If so, I encourage you to dig into the personality quadrants and learn about each one!

No quadrant is necessarily bad, though they all come with strengths and weaknesses. Once you figure out your own dominating quadrant(s), you’ll be better able to spot your weaker points and work to improve them. From there, understanding the other quadrants will help you better understand those around you so you can build better relationships.

Learning about your personality enables you to learn about yourself on a deeper level. That awareness is everything when it comes to creating positive change in your life. That is so worth the effort! YOU are worth the effort.

With love,

Jessica

Claim Your Power Live – Initial Thoughts

This weekend I took some time for myself and attended a powerful virtual event. Day 1 of the Claim Your Power Live conference with Mastin Kipp was intense to say the least.

Taking a polyvagal approach, one exercise involved shifting in and out of joy, sadness/depression, and anxiety/stress. People are often scared to allow themselves to feel the “bad” emotions because they think it will consume them or they will be stuck in the emotion. The purpose of that exercise is to teach our nervous system that it is safe to feel into those harsh emotions by showing we don’t have to stay there.

This process helps to release the emotions that we have trapped inside and create a more flexible nervous system.

Is it easy? Not exactly.

Does it hurt? Yup, but in a good way.

It allowed us to fully sink into those feelings temporarily, allowing us to free up space for ourselves on the other side of it. I can tell you that nobody died from fully feeling their feelings, but there were sooo many tears! Sometimes that is exactly what we need – to let it out.

Side note: I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for waterproof mascara 🙏🏻

I finally see the science behind why some of the most impactful things that I’ve experienced this year have been so effective. From the Dickens process at Unleash the Power Within with Tony Robbins, Neuroencoding methods with Joseph McClendon the 3rd, even emotional vipasana from Teal Swan’s The Completion Process. They can all be tied back to polyvagal theory and somatic therapies.

The science is catching up, and this is gaining traction. I can’t wait for this to get out there more! This will be game changing for mental health treatment.

In the meantime, if you are struggling I highly encourage looking up Mastin and his work. So many of us struggle trying modality after modality, with nothing ever fully working to free us from the pain. I encourage you to look into these concepts because it just might be the missing piece!

With love,

Jessica