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Those Who Know How to Think Need no Teachers

Those Who Know How to Think Need no Teachers

Personal Reflections: On Learning to Love Yourself

Personal Reflections: On Learning to Love Yourself

Personal Reflections: On Learning to Love Yourself

My little half-sister

According to her mother, my 18-year-old half-sister is really struggling. When my father died last year at 78 from the long term effects of drinking and smoking, my sister was hit the hardest. Now, she’s away at college for the first time and it sounds like she’s feeling very lost and lonely. Listening to her mom describe what a hard time my little sister is having, I was reminded of how, for the first 34 years of my life, I felt like I stumbled around in a fog, not sure of who I was or where I was going in life.

I’m 54 now and I know how my story works out. I’ve created a life I love complete with an adoring husband, two very amusing dogs, and a rewarding career as a dating and relationship coach. Most of all, I’m genuinely happy.

Sadly, I don’t know what’s in store for my little sister. I don’t know if she’ll figure out her life, but it breaks my heart to see her in so much pain. I can imagine how much she’s hurting and how insurmountable this situation must seem to her.

People like people who like themselves

The other day I phoned my little sister to see how she’s doing and she confided that she hasn’t made any real friends at school. Can you imagine being away at college and not making friends? I can. When I was her age, nothing seemed more terrifying than opening up to other people. I felt certain that, if they got to know me, they wouldn’t like me… but then I didn’t like much myself either.

Now that I’m older, I can see how hard it is for others to like you when you don’t like yourself. But it’s also hard to like yourself when it feels like nobody likes you. It’s a Catch-22. How could I possibly believe I was likable when I constantly felt like people were turned off by me? I felt so lonely and confused that I resented other people for how I felt, but I also desperately wanted their approval.

“Searching in all directions with your awareness, you find no one dearer than yourself.”   -The Buddha

When I ask myself how I got from where my sister is today to where I am, I realize that it came down to a single choice. One day, when I was 34-years-old and trapped in a bad marriage, I simply decided that it was time to start loving myself. I realized that the love I needed most of all was my own, and that I had to find a way to give it to myself. Of course I didn’t have a clue how to do this, but I needed to find out.

Turns out that setting an intention to start loving myself was, in and of itself, a powerful step in the right direction. I didn’t need to have it all figured out. Simply by changing a single thought, my entire way of thinking began to change. Instead of focusing on all the reasons why people didn’t like me, I started to think about what I liked about myself. When I did this, my negative thoughts receded into the background and my positive thoughts came to the forefront. My mind was like a camera lens; whatever I chose to focus on became sharper and clearer, while everything else fell away.

Just find one thing to like about yourself

You don’t have to start with anything big. Maybe you think you have pretty hair or a nice smile. Maybe you like the fact that you’re an out-of-the-box thinker. I loved my sense of adventure. At a time when the vast majority of people hadn’t traveled much, by the time I was nineteen, I had already been around the world to places like Sri Lanka and Katmandu. I thought this made me pretty cool. All you need to do is find one thing to like about yourself, however small. Make a list of 10 things you like about being you. Everyday add one more quality to the list. Watch it grow.

Eventually, I was able to start looking at the things I didnt like about myself, too. It was scary at first, but I owned them one by one. I took responsibility for everything about whom I was being and the choices I was making.

There were some parts of my personality that weren’t so attractive. For example, I could be defensive, obsessive, a know-it-all, and self-absorbed. The good news was that I was ready and willing to change. For most of my life I had felt like the world was against me. Figuring out that I could improve myself on the inside and change the results I was getting on the outside felt liberating.

In certain spiritual circles the word “change” has gotten a bad rap. Some say we’re all supposed to accept others and ourselves exactly the way we are. This isn’t exactly true. While it isn’t your job to try to change other people, you can change how other people respond to you by changing yourself. If something you’re doing isn’t working and you’re not getting the result you want, then you need to change your approach. We are all works in progress, but if you want to have a life you love, you can’t continue to blame the people around you for why your life isn’t working.

Beauty isn’t everything

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I was my little sister’s age is that I placed way too much emphasis on physical beauty. A voice inside my head was always saying things like, “Lisa, if you were thinner, your life would be different. If you just lost weight, people would like you. Then you could fit in. If you were prettier, people would like you and want to be your friend.” No wonder I didn’t like myself. I was mean and negative and I was making myself into a victim. I really believed that if I were prettier and thinner people would like me more. I never realized this until just now, but the few times I actually did lose weight, I was so uncomfortable with the attention I got that I put the weight back on again. It didn’t matter how I looked on the outside because I believed that, once people got to know what I was like on the inside, they wouldn’t like me. The problem with wishing I was thinner or prettier was that it set me up to never like myself. I was always disappointed in myself. The only way to love myself was to be willing to accept myself flaws and all. I still wanted to lose weight and keep improving, but I stopped beating up on myself up for not being perfect.

The other night I was invited to a fabulous party in the Hollywood Hills. I don’t think there was one person there who was classically beautiful, but every single person had his or her own distinct brand of charm. I met a famous actor, a world-renowned photographer, a jewelry designer, a frozen quiche and pizza manufacturer, a high-end photographic book publisher, a designer of exotic gardens, and a novelist. It was one of the most fascinating groups of people I’ve met in a long time. Not one person there was a head turner, but you could tell that they all liked themselves and they each left a lasting impression on me.

My friend Peggy

I really have come a long way in the past 20 years. My friend Peggy, who knew me when I was first trying to figure myself out, likes to remind me of how far I’ve come. She gets this mischievous twinkle in her eyes and says, “Lisa Minkin (my maiden name), you’ve come a l o n g way!” She’s seen the best and the worst of me, and you know what? She doesn’t just like me: she loves me.

When I first met Peggy, I fell in love with her spirit and I wanted to be her friend. She was the kind of person I wanted to like me back. I actually went out on a limb to cultivate a friendship with her—something I never would have had the guts to do when I was younger and more insecure. The old me would have told myself that Peggy wouldn’t want to be my friend, but the new me tells myself that I can have all the friends I want! Just writing those words makes my heart leap because I never imagined I would feel that way. Peggy’s love and friendship are proof that I’ve grown into the person I’ve always wanted to be because the people who love me are the very people I want to love me.

In conclusion

Now that you’ve read this far, you might still be wondering, “But how did you learn to love yourself?” I’ve already told you. I changed a belief. I simply chose to stop telling myself that I was unlikable and, despite what anyone else thought of me, I decided to like myself. Changing this one belief opened up a whole new universe of thought for me. Over time, much of my negativity and fear fell away and it was replaced with loving-kindness and self-acceptance. This didn’t happen overnight. Transformation can take time. Just because I had a breakthrough didn’t mean that I was changed. The changes came gradually, but once I set foot on that path, I kept on going. I changed from a confused, frightened, insecure girl into a clear, confident woman. I hope with all my heart that my little sister will do the same.

If you are struggling to love yourself and meet the partner of your dreams, please contact me for a free consult. You can learn all the tricks of the dating trade, but if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, it’s hard to be a great partner even if you meet someone wonderful. The good news is that you can learn to love and accept yourself and my guess is that you’ll find out you’re actually pretty fabulous!

Adventure, Mission & Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Too Strong Won’t Attract The Right Man

being too strong

Right before my 40th birthday it hit me: being too strong wasn’t attracting the right man. It had been eight years since I divorced my first husband. I’d spent most of this time working on myself. Now it was time to put myself back on the dating circuit. As I started going out on dates, I began to question some of my long held beliefs about men, women, and relationships. Because I was a strong and independent woman, I had always thought that my ideal man would have to be stronger than me so that he would “challenge me” and “take the lead.” Now I began to wonder if there was a flaw in my thinking. Was the fact that I was being too strong and independent inadvertently attracting the wrong men and pushing the right ones away?

It occurred to me that, if I wanted a man to take the lead, I needed to stop being too strong and independent. If I wanted a man to be stronger than me, I needed to stop competing with him. And if I wanted a man to be the man, I needed to start thinking and behaving more like the woman.

But what did it mean to “be the woman?” I honestly didn’t know. When I was nine, my father jilted my mother, leaving her heartbroken and humiliated. One wintery afternoon when I was fifteen, my mother and I were walking around a Midwestern shopping mall when she told me never to rely on men. “Don’t ever let a man do to you what your father did to me,” she said, trying to protect me from men like my father. Then, lifting a line from a seedy Sidney Sheldon novel, she said something I will never forget. “Remember: when they’re hard they’re soft and when they’re soft they’re hard.” Thanks Mom! Words to live by!

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You have to laugh. I mean, who quotes Sidney Sheldon to her 15-year-old daughter? But I was young and impressionable, and I took my mother’s advice to heart. I decided right then and there that I would never need a man for anything, and for many years, I didn’t.

As I got older, I pushed men away to test them and see if they were “man enough” for me. Or, if I felt an immediate attraction, I would pursue them and sleep with them right away. It never occurred to me to question my behavior. I just assumed that one day the right man would come along—one who would “get me” and know how to “handle” me.

It wasn’t until I was almost 40 that I realized there is a word for men who know how to “handle” women: They’re called players! Because I couldn’t push these men around or push them away, I made the mistake of thinking that they were “real men” and that they were interested in getting to know me. Men who were “too available” bored me to tears, but the players I met were tenacious. They knew what they wanted and they went for it. I loved the feeling of being pursued by a man who seemed to know what he wanted—especially when what he wanted was me.

I didn’t understand at the time that players are really only after the thrill of the chase. They aren’t interested in getting to know us at all. They just want sex. To them, it’s all a game. The harder we make them work, the more fun it is for them. Ultimately, if it doesn’t work out with one woman, they’ll just try again with someone else. That’s a comforting thought.

This all makes perfect sense to me now. Think about it: when a man is attracted to a woman and she rejects him, he feels hurt and he figures she isn’t interested. It’s ridiculous to think that he should keep coming back for more rejection. If a man rejected me, I wouldn’t keep pursuing him—would you? There are many unflattering words in the English language for people who keep coming back and don’t get the hint: needy, anxious, clueless, masochistic…

Once I realized how flawed my thinking had been, it changed my entire approach to dating. I began to have more respect for men. I stopped being too strong and independent and I started looking for ways to empower men so that they felt that they could take the lead. I also stopped looking for some immediate chemical rush and started looking for a connection that felt grounded and real. I stopped thinking that relationships should be complicated and challenging and started believing that they could be open, honest, and easy. I stopped finding unavailable men attractive and started opening up to the men who were attracted to me. But most of all, I admitted to myself that I wanted a man in my life, and in order to have that, I had to start trusting them. When I accepted this, I softened and became more open and vulnerable. It wasn’t long before I attracted a real man—one who knows how to take care of a woman and who loves taking care of me.

If you want to discover Naked Dating and learn how to attract the love of your life, feel free to book a free consultation with me, Lisa Shield, by clicking here:

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Life is a Gift–Accept It!

Life is a Gift

Believe it or not, it can be a lot easier for people to get physically naked with a partner than to get emotionally naked. Usually, when we take off our clothes for someone, it’s because we are giving something to another other person—namely, SEX. It’s a whole different story when we get emotionally naked and bare what’s below our skin.

Our fear of rejection makes it hard to let down our guard and reveal ourselves to another person, especially when we want that person to find us attractive. No one can be more critical of us than we are of ourselves. But if we don’t even love and accept ourselves, how can we believe that another person could love us?

Fifteen years ago, I was walking down the beach contemplating this very question. Since my first marriage ended eight years earlier, I had been on what you might call a spiritual journey, actively searching for answers to life’s big questions. During that time I tried everything from traditional therapy to working with a world-renowned Mexican shaman. I had just started dating again and I couldn’t believe that, after all the hard work I’d done, my old feelings of self-doubt were resurfacing again.

I knew this place all too well, and I didn’t want to go back down that road. So, I started searching through my mental knapsack of self-empowerment tools. After all the work I’d done, there had to be something in that brain of mine to pull me out of my funk. As I was feeling good and sorry for myself, a voice inside me piped up. “Life is a gift,” it said, quite matter-of-factly.

I stopped in my tracks. Why was it telling me this now? I had heard this phrase countless times before, but what did it really mean? People say that a gift is something you give without any strings attached. I didn’t know how or why I was alive, but by some force of nature I was here. Someone or something had given me the gift of life, and as with any gift, I could choose to do whatever I wanted with it—no strings attached. If I wanted to sit on a street corner and do nothing, I could. I didn’t have to justify or explain my choice to anyone. I would probably starve to death, but I had been given the gift of life and I could choose to do whatever I wanted with it.

So, what had I been doing with my life? I realized that, mostly, I had been trying to prove my worth and impress other people. My choice of jobs, the way I dressed, and the people I surrounded myself with were mostly based on what I assumed others would think of me.  And who were these people I was seeking approval from, anyway? My parents? My friends? My enemies? It occurred to me that I was trying to live up to their standards instead of my own and that the one person I needed to please was myself.

It was then, for the first time in my life, that I stopped pretending and got real. I admitted to myself that I was angry because I didn’t think I was “the best” at anything. I didn’t think I was special. I wasn’t the prettiest, thinnest, youngest, smartest, richest, most interesting person I knew. When I compared myself to others, someone always seemed to outclass me in just about every area I could think of… and they always would. Every time I compared myself to other people, I felt inadequate. So I asked myself, “Lisa, can you accept that you are not better or worse than anyone else? You are simply a special combination of qualities that makes you unique?” In that moment, I saw that I didn’t need to be better than anyone else. I was able to accept myself for who I am and acknowledge that my life mattered—that I mattered. I stood on the beach that day feeling genuinely at peace and thought about what I enjoyed most about being me. I was surprised when I realized how many things I actually liked about myself!

I had done a lot of work on my character to become the woman I was in that moment. I had let go of a great deal of drama, suffering, and blame to become kinder and more compassionate towards others and myself. I knew how to take responsibility for myself and the life I had created, I knew how to have fun, and I was generous with the people I cared about. I appreciated beautiful things, but I wasn’t materialistic. While I was far from perfect, I wasn’t all that bad, either. I could see that I actually had a lot to offer someone in a relationship.

It was only a matter of months after this insight that I met my future husband. He is so much more than I ever expected in a partner. Had I not accepted myself that day, I don’t know if I would ever have believed that someone could love me as much as he does. Now I know that I deserve to be loved not because I am better than anyone else.  I deserve to be loved because I love who I am.

If you’re struggling to love and accept yourself, I can help! Click here to set up a consultation and see what I can do for you:

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Why Being Happy Is The Best Gift You Can Give Your Partner

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You have to be happy with yourself before you can ever be happy with someone else.

When Pharell’s song “Happy” comes on the radio, he wants us all to clap along and feel happy, too. Granted, the tune is catchy, but have you ever listened to the lyrics? “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof?”  Wow. That’s deep. He also posits “happiness is The Truth.” I wish it were that simple. While happiness has become a big buzzword in psychological circles, what happiness actually looks and feels like in modern society is still not clear. Are our romanticrelationships an accurate barometer for our happiness? If we look at our nation’s divorce rate, it becomes abundantly clear that not everyone is as happy as Pharell would like us to think.

So why does that blissful, perfect, fairy tale happiness we all seek feel like some hollow promise and cheesy pop song cliche? Probably because it doesn’t exist — at least not in the way modern media would lead us to believe. Most people search for someone to love, thinking this will make them happy and solve all of their problems. But the truth is, nobody else can make you happy (or fix you); you have to do it yourself.

Read more on YourTango!

How To Be Sexy Without Having Sex

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Men are very attracted to feminine women who are comfortable with their sexuality and know how to express it. This doesn’t mean that you need to be overtly sexual or have sex on the first date. It does mean that you will take a risk and steer the conversation into sexy territory now and then. Most women don’t know how to embrace their sexual power, and probably very few are comfortable with it. We’re afraid that if we open that door too soon, it might lead us to have sex right away and sabotage the relationship. Unfortunately, if you keep holding back, there’s a good chance that nothing will happen, no spark, no chemistry — nothing! A lot of women want to sit back and leave everything up to a man, but I can assure you that smart, sexy, confident women are not afraid to create a spark or fan the flame. You need to take a risk or you will continue to feel increasingly hopeless after every date.

 

I get how hard it is to be sexy without it leading to sex. In my own experience, after going on far too many dead end dates, I realized that the reason I hated dating so much was that I was extremely uncomfortable around men. The only thing I was sure they wanted from me was sex. So, I did one of two things: either I shut down and pulled away or I wound up going to bed with them. This took all the fun out of dating. I was afraid to flirt and be playful because I didn’t trust myself not to sleep with my dates. I knew that I needed to learn how to feel sexy and express my sexuality without having sex.

 

I discovered that there were many ways to express my sexuality. Here are some suggestions:

Read more: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/lisa-shield/be-sexy-without-having-sex#ixzz37fa9zYAv

Want To Grab His Attention? Being Pretty Isn’t Enough

Young couple

I used to think that being feminine meant that I had to dumb myself down. When I started dating again in my forties, it finally dawned on me that I could be playful and seductive in a way that felt authentic to me. When I was younger, my mother had scared me into thinking that all men were like my father in that they would eventually abandon me for younger, prettier women. Taking her advice to heart, I hid the most beautiful part of me —my vulnerability.  For the longest time, I acted like a man. I figured if they could have sex whenever they wanted, then so could I. Sex became my primary mode of relating to men. The problem was that if all I offered was sex, then that’s all I got in return. Because I had buried the part of my personality that would have made me most attractive to a man, the kind of deep, emotionally connected relationship I longed for eluded me for years.


I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about what a man wanted from me other than sex. So, I stopped having sex and started to explore other ways to capture a man attention. Contrary to what my mother had told me, it felt empowering to embrace my feminity and show vulnerability. I not only discovered how to capture a man’s attention, but I was also able to keep him interested in me. As women, we don’t want to sleep with men only to have them disappear. We want to find ways to open up and be feminine to keep men coming back. Here are a few tips that helped me rediscover my femininity — and made men want to keep seeing me:

Read on to learn how a few ways to use your femininity, here on YourTango!

Your Inner Child, by “Naked” Dating & Relationship Expert, Lisa Shield

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” –Tom Robbins

All of us have an Inner Child. Yep, you read me right: There’s a part of us that still needs love and goodparenting.  Learning how to create a strong connection with this aspect of yourself is essential to becoming a Naked Dater.  In the second half of this article I will give you a technique that will show you how build this bond, but first let’s look at who this Inner Child is and why it’s so important for you to learn how to communicate with it.

So who is this Inner Child?

“We can bury it, distort it, handicap it, make it sick, but we can’t get rid of it.”
–Recovery of Your Inner Child

In the 60s and 70s, experts Hugh Missildine and Eric Berne introduced the idea of an Inner Child.  Nice work guys!  Even though most of us like to think of ourselves as mature and capable adults, Missildine and Berne believed there’s a child living in all of us that still needs parenting.  But here’s the kicker: Not only do we continue to need parenting, we are actually the ones who need to become our own parents.

Wait…what? read more

Become closer to yourself, schedule a valuable session today

Lisa Shield, MA, CPCC
Transformational Dating and Relationship Coach
(323) 939-1770
www.LisaShield.com

A Recent Success Story

You might find this surprising, but a third of my dating and relationship coaching clients are men.  People don’t expect me to have so many men in my practice because women are the ones who most often seek out the help of a coach or therapist.  I have to admit, I would never have expected to be coaching so many members of the opposite sex, but I feel honored to work with each and every one of them.

Men come to me to coach them on every aspect of relationship.  They come for dating advice.  They come with their significant partners to work on a current relationship.  And, they come on their own to become better partners to their current wives and partners.  I treasure my male clients and I have developed a deep respect for who they are and for the unique challenges they face in their lives and relationships.  My male coaching clients seem to be deeply committed to understanding the women in their lives and to becoming the best partners they can possibly be.  Many of my male clients have told me that they feel that I understand who they are and what they’re up against.   Because I coach so many men, I have a unique ability to help my male clients to better understand women and my female clients to better understand men.  If you would like to sign up for a free sample session to see how I can help you, please click here.

This week I received a touching letter from one of my former male clients.  With his permission, I would like to share it with you.

Hi Lisa,

How are you? Been a while!  Just wanted to shoot over an email and say hello. I was thinking about you the other day and thought I’d drop you a quick note. Things are really going well with me, and I am happy to report I’ve been dating a WOMAN (not girl!) for a few months now and she’s incredible.    I think about the time spent with you in many of our sessions even a year later. Going over so many of the details and pieces of my life that I needed to work on. I am still doing those things today. In fact, today (my girlfriend) Jeanette emailed me that a few of her girlfriends (who are having “men problems”) were asking her “Why Dan is such a special guy?” Jeanette told them it was because I make her feel desired, special, sexy, feminine, loved, understood, cared for, and much, much more. How awesome is that? Talk about a 180 from where I was two years ago!  When she sent this to me and told me her response to her girlfriends, I grinned and thought to myself “Lisa Shield would want to hear this one.”

I remember walking in to your office as a complete ball of confusion. I remember not caring about how I presented myself. I remember feeling beat up emotionally/mentally after a roller-coaster of a relationship, and wondering what I did wrong. I’ve definitely turned that corner. I still continue to work on ME, but if not for you helping me, I don’t know where I’d be. So thank you BIG TIME.

I hope you know that what you did and have done for me, helped me with, and what you expressed to me was EXACTLY what I needed. I am so thankful for your help and words to build me up, and I can only imagine you are getting this type of continual positive response from plenty of your clients.

Hope all is well. Please tell your husband I say hello. It goes without saying, but he’s a lucky guy to have you in his life!

Best,

Dan

Make the first step to finding the one, schedule an appointment with Dating & Relationship Expert, Lisa Shield.  pricing & scheduling

Lisa Shield, MA, CPCC
Transformational Dating and Relationship Coach
(323) 939-1770
www.LisaShield.com

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