The Phoenix Rising Collective

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How To Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship

How to Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

When in relationships a lot of us have fallen into that trap of self-sacrifice to the point of losing ourselves in our partner’s needs, desires and expectations. Truth be told, we are not always asked or coerced into giving up our individuality; we just behave according to what we believe we should do to make a relationship work.

I’m not blind to the fact that our lives will merge when we are in relationships. But what’s also true is when you get involved with someone, you are two individuals who are choosing to be together. And as a couple, you both should always have space and the right to maintain your individuality/independence.

When you’re single, it’s pretty easy to do what you want whenever you want. There’s no one to answer to or even consider. However, when you get into a relationship you get consumed with your partner’s way of life, especially in the attraction and infatuation phase. I get it because I did the same thing. You want to do everything together and go everywhere together, and you become absorbed by the relationship.

The crazy thing is, your individuality is probably what attracted him to you in the first place, yet you eventually lose that thing.

Do you believe it’s possible to maintain a strong commitment to balancing love for yourself while simultaneously being committed to your partner?

A simple tell-tale that you are losing or have lost yourself in your relationship is this:

  • You find yourself pulling away from friends.

  • You stop making use of your free time.

  • You’re not engaging in your usual activities anymore.

  • You’re neglecting your needs.

  • You are withdrawing from your world outside of your new partner.

  • And life becomes more about the relationship and less about you.

If this resonates with you, it’s time to take a moment to re-evaluate and ask yourself if this is what you really want when experiencing your relationship.

As a couple, you should have common interests and activities that you do together but it is equally healthy to have time apart to pursue friendships, work relationships, and personal interests.

So, what’s the solution? Having a strong sense of self (S.S.O.S), which is one of the primary components of having a healthy relationship.

When you don’t have a S.S.O.S it’s easier to get lost in your relationship and the result can lead to this:

  • You can become resentful of your partner for having his own life.

  • It gets boring because there’s nothing new happening since your lives are so merged together.

  • You are at risk of becoming co-dependent on your partner to make you happy.

Sometimes that merge of identity is forced onto couples, especially in the celebrity world. Think about the celebrity couples’ nicknames. For example, “Kimye” for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Brangelina for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. This is a new one for me “Billary” for Bill and Hillary Clinton. It may seem like all fun and games but I bet the blending of names trickles into the relationship and creates issues for some. We’ve heard of those couples who are referred to as such-and-such’s wife/husband and no longer referred to by their own names. It can be challenging for the relationship to withstand that shift in dynamic and it doesn’t last.

What I know for sure is this. It is absolutely possible to have a balance between having a strong commitment and love for yourself and simultaneously be as committed to your partner.

There are three married women that demonstrate this relationship dynamic I’m speaking of. Two of them are famous couples and the other I know personally. These ladies have a strong sense of self and boldly maintain their individuality yet they are still very committed to their marriage, love their husbands deeply and are very supportive of them as well.

Jada Pinkett-Smith, Michelle Obama and my friend Akilah Richards. I know you are familiar with the first two women. Take a minute and think about how they show up. Do you think they have a S.S.O.S?

I have a disclaimer. Having a strong sense of self does not make you exempt from experiences of emotional pain. But a person with a strong sense of self is better equipped to participate in a healthy relationship because they know how to respond and not react to challenges in their relationship.

Here are a few characteristics of people that demonstrate a S.S.O.S:

  • They take full responsibility for themselves by knowing how to manage their emotions. When they are experiencing discomfort they know specific things they can do that will help restore them to their natural balance. They don’t blame others; instead, they take personal responsibility.

  • They follow through on the commitment they make to themselves.

  • They feel okay with saying no because they’ve created boundaries for their personal safety and they uphold them without wavering. They value their time and energy. When someone requests their time they objectively look at the requests, make their own decisions, and set boundaries.

  • They believe in and practice self-preservation by sustaining personal interests, even if their partner or close friends are not a part of it. They don’t depend on another person’s involvement in order to engage in something that may interest them. They place equal importance on exploring themselves.

  • They make their own decisions about their life. They are open to receiving support, information, and advice, but they do not depend on reassurance and approval from others. They take full responsibility for their decisions.

  • They are authentic, and being “real” is very important to them. They are not afraid to go against the “norms” that society has created.

  • They embrace personal leadership. They don’t get caught up in the hype of trends to the point of losing themselves. They only indulge if it makes sense to them.

  • They don’t depend on other people’s words to define who you are.

Losing yourself usually happens over time as you surrender your own desires and needs for the sake of the relationship. The longer this goes on the greater the imbalance and the more difficult it is to fix. You cannot expect the other person to be aware that you are losing yourself; therefore, it’s up to you to catch yourself.

Here are some suggestions on how to maintain a strong sense of self while in a relationship or even before you enter one:

  • Make time for self. Have a schedule and stick to it. Save your personal time for after you’ve handled your business. Take care of yourself first. If your partner respects you, he will be supportive of you handling your business.

  • Keep your routine – Although your routine will have to change in some ways to welcome the person into your life, make sure that you aren’t ditching the important things.  If you don’t have one, develop one.

  • Stick with your personal activities. If your partner enjoys them bring him along, if they don’t then continue to engage in them and encourage him to engage in his own interests. Maintaining independence is important for both parties involved.

  • Maintain your personal relationships: Take some time to schedule in a catch-up with your friends and family.

  • Have a strong understanding of who you are and what you stand for before you set out to be in a relationship and even while you’re involved in one.

Knowing and being who you are is part of your personal power, don’t give that power to someone else. It’s all about finding a balance between time together and time apart, which is very possible.

Here’s a new perspective to take on this subject: You want your partner to be with you for who you truly are as an individual as much as for who you are as a couple. So, don’t disappear as an individual. Still be you!


About the Contributor:

MoniqueHalleyContributor[thephoenixrisingcollective]1Monique Allison is a Relationship Clarity Coach. Her personal experience, observation, and insight gained over the years allows her to help women release unhealthy relationships and heal from broken ones in order to love again from a more self-loving and authentic space. She is also the mother of 10-year-old son, Pharaoh. Monique’s background/experience is in the nonprofit sector working for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (UWMA) for 13 years; holding the position as the Quality Assurance Manager. She has achieved a B.A. in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University, is AIRS Certified as an Information & Referral Specialist, attained a Creative Writer Certificate from Kennesaw State University. Monique has also taught life skills to young adults for two years. Learn more about Monique’s work helping women build healthy relationships HERE.

 

Check out more of her Phoenix blog posts.  And, join the Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


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Self-Ownership: The Power of Taking Full Responsibility for Your Life

Self-Ownership[Blog Post]The Phoenix Rising Collective

“I know you want everybody and everything else to change. Your mother, father, boss, friend, sister, lover, landlord, neighbor, minister, or government official must change so that your life can be perfect. It doesn’t work that way. If you want change in your life, then you are the one who must do the changing.” -Louise Hay

 

When I first read this quote I thought, “But sometimes, others do have to change because I know for sure I haven’t done anything wrong.” After I thought about it, changing doesn’t always mean that you did something wrong or that you necessarily have to change who you are. It can mean that you are allowing certain things to happen and those things are having a negative impact on your quality of life experiences. So, even changing what you are willing to tolerate is a change on your part.

If you are considering making changes in your life, are you looking for others to also make adjustments in order for things to get better?

I’m personally experiencing some change right now: I recently let go of my locs of 15 years and am now adjusting to having short, natural hair. I’m also moving out of my house of 12 years for numerous reasons and to create a more balanced co-parenting relationship in terms of sharing responsibilities.

Change isn’t always easy to accept, and it’s mainly because we are holding on to expectations we have of others and situations.  Instead of accepting what is, we resist and that’s when it’s challenging to deal with things. However, it’s also an opportunity for you to shift your perspective and make a more conscious decision on how to respond and not just react.

In the midst of working through all of these changes my mentor, friend and fellow coach pointed out a theme she felt was emerging. She said, “I really think your theme for the new year is ownership.”

It was showing up in some of my choices but it also needed to be developed in other areas. I was curious to learn more about what it means to truly embody “self-ownership” because I wanted to create better experiences – including my relationships. I explored this concept more and I believe you can also benefit from what I discovered.

Let’s start with breaking down what it really means to express self-ownership.

Self ownership means just one thing, that YOU are the owner of your life – your body, your mind, your energy, and any consequent result of your life’s efforts.

You have to take full responsibility for your experiences instead of giving that power over to anyone else. In the same breath, you also have to recognize that everyone else has the same right to self-ownership.

When you can acknowledge well founded ownership in unpleasant situations, you are better prepared to make the necessary changes to resolve things, even if it starts with you. When you are unable to own your stuff,  you will remain a victim of your circumstances.

When thinking of self-ownership in regard to relationships, we tend to put certain responsibilities on those we are involved with. We frequently allow others to be responsible for our happiness, sense of security and for feeling loved (to mention a few). I can admit to being that person in past relationships. However, I was able to develop mental and emotional strategies that are in alignment with taking ownership of my experiences.

Now, there are several elements connected to self-ownership (but not limited to):

  • Independent thinking: Give yourself permission to question what doesn’t feel good despite what the person involved or the masses may think about it. Always ask questions in order to seek understanding of self and the situation. There may be times when you have to make choices true to you even in the face of external pressure.

  • Personal responsibility: You have to be able to acknowledge and accept the choices you have made, the actions you have taken, and the results they have led to. Basically own the role you’ve played, even if the situation didn’t turn out the way you expected it.

  • Emotional management: It’s very important to be able to have the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions in positive ways to communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. When you are capable of recognizing your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, you can use this understanding to relate better to other people and form healthier relationships. Our emotions are very valuable to us. Once you can identify the emotion and its message, the last step is to take action.

I have a quick resource that will help you develop your Emotional Intelligence.

Click here to get immediate access to a cheat sheet to mastering your emotions.

  • Frame of reference: Our frame of reference speaks to patterns of assumption and ways of thinking or feeling about someone or something. Understanding your frame of reference is a practical approach to removing mental barriers, because your frame of reference directly impacts your thought process, and ultimately your actions. Frame of reference is influenced by childhood experiences, shadow beliefs (beliefs you don’t even realize affect your actions), cultural values, traumatic experiences, etc.

You have to examine your frame of reference around your relationships, and then determine whether your outlook is either hurting you by keeping you stuck or motivating you to make changes for the better.

This is when you would put “reframing” into practice. Reframing means changing your interpretation or changing your point of view. You basically put a new frame around your situation to change the way you look at it. As a result it changes the meaning for you. Think of it like this: you are taking a picture out of one frame and putting it into another. In your mind, the color, shape, size of the frame doesn’t make the picture look good, so putting the picture in another frame makes it look better.

Exercise your personal power in changing any situation that doesn’t feel good to you by affirming self-ownership.

Have you resisted and felt out of control when a relationship or situation was on the verge of changing?

If so, I have a quick self-awareness exercise for you:

  • Take out a piece of paper and write down one challenging experience/relationship (personal or professional) you’d like to take self-ownership of in your life.

If you haven’t made any changes yet there must be a barrier preventing you from taking steps.

  • Knowing that no one will see this write down what that barrier is.

Now, how can you apply independent thinking, personal responsibility, emotional management or reframing to your situation?

Doing this exercise is a step towards taking ownership that is independent of others. Whether it be doing this writing exercise, changing a negative behavior pattern, creating boundaries, or not tolerating less than you deserve. This is what self-ownership is about – taking action to create change that’s independent of others.

Don’t deny the value of your own power. You are free to guide yourself.


 

About the Contributor:

MoniqueHalleyContributor[thephoenixrisingcollective]1Monique Allison is a Relationship Clarity Coach. Her personal experience, observation, and insight gained over the years allows her to help women release unhealthy relationships and heal from broken ones in order to love again from a more self-loving and authentic space. She is also the mother of 10-year-old son, Pharaoh. Monique’s background/experience is in the nonprofit sector working for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (UWMA) for 13 years; holding the position as the Quality Assurance Manager. She has achieved a B.A. in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University, is AIRS Certified as an Information & Referral Specialist, attained a Creative Writer Certificate from Kennesaw State University. Monique has also taught life skills to young adults for two years. Learn more about Monique’s work helping women build healthy relationships HERE.


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Reconnecting with Yourself: 3 Powerful Ways to Start

reconnecting with yourself [the phoenix rising collective]

We are usually taught to focus on others needs before our own. There are articles about helping us build healthy relationships with our partners and loved ones, magazine covers telling us what we need to do to attract a man, and books on being a good mother, etc. I have no problem with any of this because I believe in creating happy and healthy relationships with others, but on the flip side I don’t hear nearly as much about the most important relationship in our lives: the one with ourselves.

As women we are more likely to compromise in our relationships, especially romantic ones. I see how easy it is for us to have more of an external focus and lose our sense of self, and I’m not okay with that…anymore. I say anymore because I had this self-sacrificing thought process at one point. From personal experience I know how easy it is for us to get caught up in others and not realize that we are disconnected from ourselves.

What happens when you don’t have a true connection to self?

One of my past downfalls in relationships was not having a strong sense of self. I got lost in my past marriage and other roles I played. Because of that I didn’t make conscious choices based on who I was and what I wanted. Instead my choices were formed around what others wanted and needed. I used to go along with it and in the end that approach never served me. This can show up in any type of relationship that we deem important and for that reason I encourage you to always stay connected to who you are.  Also, as a mother with a child who has special health-care needs (due to chronic illnesses), I learned very fast how important it is to make sure I develop a healthy relationship with myself first and foremost. Being a caregiver is very overwhelming at times and I need to maintain my overall well-being in order to take on what comes my way and to also be my best self in the relationships I value.

Have you been ignoring any signals that clearly show a disconnect with self?

Outside of relationships we also get lost in life. With all the tasks, people, and activities competing for our attention every day, it’s so easy to get misplaced in the routine and lose touch with ourselves. In the end, your life is about your journey and it starts with rediscovering a relationship with YOU.

“Having a good relationship with yourself improves your relationships with others.”

How you are living should be aligned with how you see yourself authentically. Reconnecting to who you are and showing up as your true self will make you happier, reduce stress, and also make your relationship experiences more fulfilling.

The following are some ways to start reconnecting with self:

1. Spend Time Alone

Life happens really fast and it’s up to you to slow things down. Therefore, the first thing you must do is take time for yourself. You just have to disconnect externally and go inward. Spending time alone with no social media or cell phone is a good place to start. Most of us are connected all the time making it very easy to get out of touch with how we feel. It’s so important to be alone every day for personal reflection and check-in. You can start off with just 15 to 30 minutes a day. If you stay committed to it you will start to crave that time.

2. Write

It’s inevitable that your mind will wonder about what else you can do during alone time besides just sitting with yourself, so take a journal with you to capture your thoughts. Writing is a great way to give what’s rolling around in your head some room to breathe. By putting your thoughts on paper you’ll begin to sift through mental clutter, process, and let go of stuff that needs to be discarded. Writing is a way of clarifying and releasing. It also reveals where you’re stuck. There are no rules. Just write!

3. Perform Self-Inquiry

After you move past your surface thoughts use these guided questions to get you on the path of reconnecting:

  • Are you really focused on what matters to you?
  • Is your life in alignment with what you believe and what you feel is really worthwhile?
  • Are you engaged in at least one thing that you love doing?
  • How are you relating to yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially?
  • Are your needs being met in the most important areas of your life?
  • Are you happy with self and your life?
Answering these questions is just a start because this will trigger other questions for you. A heightened sense of awareness will develop and prompt you to re-examine your relationship with self much further.

Whatever shows up for you while answering these questions, I want you to practice self-compassion. If a painful thought or feeling comes up be understanding. Ask yourself the following: How would I respond to someone I care about if they were having a difficult time with something? What comforting words would I say to them? Then say those same words to yourself.

Self-exploration processes are beneficial to understanding who you are and how that transfers into making decisions in your relationships. When you have a sense of clarity you’re more likely to engage in relationships and experiences that enhance and improve the quality of your life, and I want that for you.

Let’s start a dialogue around this topic, leave a comment and let me know what’s most challenging for you to stay connected to yourself.


Meet the Contributing Writer:

MoniqueHalleyContributor[thephoenixrisingcollective]1Monique Allison is a Relationship Clarity Coach. Her personal experience, observation, and insight gained over the years allows her to help women release unhealthy relationships and heal from broken ones in order to love again from a more self-loving and authentic space. She is also the mother of 10-year-old son, Pharaoh. Monique’s background/experience is in the nonprofit sector working for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (UWMA) for 13 years; holding the position as the Quality Assurance Manager. She has achieved a B.A. in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University, is AIRS Certified as an Information & Referral Specialist, attained a Creative Writer Certificate from Kennesaw State University. Monique has also taught life skills to young adults for two years. Learn more about Monique’s work helping women build healthy relationships HERE.


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The Phoenix Book of the Week: Warning Signs: What every woman should know – a dating guide by Danielle E. Ward

warning_signs_book_of_the_week[phoenixrisingcollective]

Our Phoenix Book of the Week Pick comes from Danielle.

Warning Signs: What every woman should know – a dating guide

One of my favorite books is Warning Signs: What every woman should know — a dating guide, by Danielle E. Ward. This book just happens to be one I wrote, but my reasons for selecting it extend beyond the surface.

Warning Signs is the kind of book that reads like you’re sitting with your best girlfriend having a heart-to-heart. Just like your sister-friend, this book holds you accountable for your actions and makes you really think about the choices you make when dating. At the same time, it gives you that extra boost of confidence to do what’s necessary to get what you need and desire out of your relationships.

Having the book broken down based on traffic lights helps you see exactly where your relationship is and better determine its direction.

Warning Signs made me squirm sometimes, because I had to acknowledge my own behaviors and patterns in dating. I remember asking a guy I knew to read it, and he got to one part and said, “You don’t do that.” Ouch. It was time to make some changes.

From an author standpoint, writing Warning Signs was like being in an airplane that’s losing air pressure: I needed to put on my own oxygen mask and save myself before I could help anyone else survive. I couldn’t share tips with women that I wasn’t following myself.

This book helped me get off the fence in several areas of my life and be clear and unwavering about what I wanted out of my dating relationships. It also helped me clear away dead friendships and relationships and be open to meeting new people who truly valued me. Most importantly, Warning Signs reminded me that I am a work in progress and that’s okay.

71soHjIormL._SL1500_Like the book states, “Marriage is for mature, responsible people.” We need to “heal and deal” — heal from past hurts and deal with the baggage we brought from previous relationships in order to be ready to move forward.

My hope is that women who read Warning Signs will take the time to do an honest assessment of where they are in their relationships and why. Using that information, I envision lives transformed as women leave unhealthy relationships behind and fill up their own love tank. This will help position them for a relationship that complements them and allows them to be content enjoying their own company in the meantime.

Warning Signs is available for purchase in all formats. Ten percent of the annual proceeds support survivors of domestic violence.

For more information about the book and the author, visit Warning Signs. You may also follow her on Facebook.

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About The Phoenix Book of the Week:

The Phoenix Book of the Week features book recommendations from The Phoenix Rising Collective, as well as the empowered women who support us. We’ll be sharing our thoughts on books that have been powerful resources for sustaining healthy self-esteem, creating emotional and spiritual wellness, and committing to intentional living. We’ll also share our personal stories about how and why the books have inspired personal growth and sparked “light bulb moments” that changed our lives in some way. The book picks may cover a wide range of topics from diverse genres.

Interested in sharing a book with us? Please click here to send your request for more details on submitting a book entry.