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3 Reasons for Giving an Honest No

I have a hard time saying no when someone asks me to do something, even if I really don’t want to agree. Saying no can feel hard for any number of reasons… We’re afraid the other person will get mad at us… We don’t want to appear lazy or selfish… We don’t want to seem mean or rude… We take responsibility for making sure others are happy… We want to feel needed… We want to avoid conflict… We’ve developed a habit of always agreeing… We want people to like us… We don’t want to disappoint anyone… We’re afraid of missing out… Any of these sound familiar?…

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How Does Pleasing Others Really Feel?

There are many reasons we choose to do things that will please others. Those choices can be rooted in love or in fear. They can spring from generosity or obligation. We can do things for others with joy or resentment. Recognizing the difference is a key piece in shifting from depending on external validation to trusting ourselves more. Those of us who can get caught up in people-pleasing tend to focus a lot of energy on our thoughts.…

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Do You Know the Secret to Meaningful Relationships?

Have you ever done the group activity where each person writes something they like about you and all the slips of paper are collected so you have an envelope of warm fuzzies to cheer you up when you’re having a bad day? At its best, it’s a valuable exercise. It makes us think about what we value in each other and share things sometimes left unsaid. All of us need to be reminded of the good qualities others see in us on the days we just can’t see them in ourselves.…

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Two Ways to Feel More Connected in Your Relationships

What are you looking for in your relationships? I think most of us want to be seen and loved for who we really are. We want assurance that we don’t have to change ourselves in order to belong. Why is this so hard to find? Is it because we know the wrong people? Is it because there is something wrong with us? Is it something else? It often seems like people, even my friends, don’t really know who I am.…

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Holy Curiosity: Questions for Paintings, Questions for People

A number of my college classes took field trips to the Art Institute of Chicago. After completing my assignments and touring the collections, I always made my way to The Old Guitarist by Picasso where I’d sit for a hours in an out-of-the-way corner. A steady stream of people visited the painting, many seeming to almost miss the guitarist himself as they searched for the ghostly face peering over the back of his neck, evidence of an earlier painting on the same canvas.…

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Are You Willing to be Visible and Take Up Space?

If we want to put ourselves out there and share our work with others, we need to be willing to be visible and take up space. ~Fabeku Fatunmise I tend to try to take up as little space as possible. I’m fairly tall, but I often slouch and I stand or sit with my arms crossed. I even sleep curled up in a ball. I shy away from wearing bright colors or bold patterns.…

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Start as Who You Think You Are

Happy New Year! I’m still getting settled back in after all the holiday travel and celebrations. At this time of year when there is so much pressure to become someone new and better, I needed to revisit these words from a couple years ago. Enjoy! // Occasionally I’ll hear or read a line that seems like it’s speaking directly to me. I was reading the poem, Life is Calling, by Kelly Moore, when the second to last line made my shoulders drop in relief.…

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Do You Know the Sound of Your Own Voice?

I slouched in the back seat of the parked car as the rain poured down outside, blurring the unfamiliar buildings around us. We mostly sat in silence except for the occasional sigh of I don’t know. They all look good. What do you think? We’d had a fun morning despite the rain and the traffic, but now it was time for lunch. The treat of going out together somewhere special was overshadowed by the monumental task of choosing a restaurant.…

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When Integrity Felt Like Lying

For years, hearing the word integrity squeezed the air out of my lungs and clenched my hands into fists. Somewhere along the way, I had come to define integrity as making sure my words and actions aligned with what someone else said was right. If my thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs lined up with that standard, then living in integrity would be easier for me. If not, then the pain and struggle of having to overcome who I was inside was just my punishment for not being good enough.…

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Is it Time to Say “Not This”?

I used to wear jeans and a solid-colored t-shirt nearly every day—long sleeves in winter, short sleeves in summer. This can be a comfortable, versatile wardrobe choice. I didn’t, however, choose those clothes for ease or because I felt like myself wearing them. I chose them because they helped me feel safe. Generic clothing choices didn’t draw attention. While there wasn’t much to compliment about my attire, there was also little to criticize.…

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