Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?

working mums

In 2012, The Atlantic magazine published an article with the heading, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

The article was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a high-achieving career woman. She quit a powerful government position so that she could spend more time with her teenage boys.

While she didn’t quit full-time work, she got a lot of criticism from feminists who expected her to handle her professional and parenting obligations effortlessly.

Among other things, Slaughter noted that working mums who are employed need to stop fooling themselves about the ability to parent effectively while growing high-profile careers.

She was of the opinion that it’s possible to have this kind of balance when you run your own business or have control over your schedule.

Is it possible for working mums to have work-life balance?

Working mums all over the world struggle to balance between career growth, family, societal expectations, and their own self-care.

I know this for a fact because I’ve been a working mum for over 13 years. At first, I was in full-time employment. I then moved to my business, where I worked more hours than I used to when employed.

There was a 2-year stretch when I took time off to be a stay-at-home mum. This worked well for some time before I started itching to get back to work.

A combination of the experience of being able to spend more time with my children plus having had a failed business made me realize that:

  • I didn’t want to get back into full-time employment again.
  • I’m not meant to be a full-time stay-at-home mum.

It was with this in mind that I chose to be a work-from-home mum when I started my next business. This has struck a nice balance for me and I don’t see it changing in the near future.

I’ve been lucky to have experienced both sides of the spectrum. I’ve also been lucky to reach a point where I can choose to work from home. However, not many mothers who have careers or are in business are able to do that.

“Can I have it all?”

I was asked this question by someone who was seeking coaching a few years back. She was trying to make a decision between starting a business and taking up a high-profile job – her dream job.

The job was lucrative, but it would take her away from her family for large stretches of time. It also required a high level of commitment and focus.

More women have asked me the same question in different ways. All of them are high-achieving women who are either mums or aspiring to become mums soon.

It’s a question that was also asked by Kara (Supergirl) in the TV series Supergirl. She was working as an assistant to a very busy and highly successful business owner who was also a single mum.

One day, Kara asked her boss, Cat Stevens, whether it was possible to balance work and family and still get everything done. Cat’s response was simple:

“You can have it all, just not at once.”

That statement has stayed in my mind since I watched the program. It’s also a good kick off to this series as Selipha Kihagi and I delve deeply into the topic of working mums. We will look at:

  1. Common challenges faced by working mums.
  2. Negative effects on children of working mums.
  3. Positive effects on children with working mums.
  4. Challenges faced by single working mums.

This list is not exhaustive and we will update it as we get more information or requests from readers.

Your turn…

We’d love to write this series with you. Here’s what you can do to make this happen.

1. Connect with us

The topic of working mums has been covered widely for the Western world. Unfortunately, it’s not been adequately covered for the African woman, and more so for the Kenyan woman. We therefore welcome your questions, experiences, tips, and resources. The topics we write about will expand depending on the responses we get from readers. So talk to us in the Comments section of all the articles.

2. Share this series with other working mums

There are many women who are suffering as they struggle to meet unrealistic expectations from themselves and other people. Please share this series with them so that they too can get help or jump into the discussion.

3. Sign up for the email newsletter

If you don’t have time to come back and read blog posts each week, then sign up for the Create a New Dawn newsletter. As a subscriber, you will receive an update each week. This update includes a personal note from me, a preview of the week’s blog article, information on upcoming events and coaching programs, and periodic special offers just for newsletter subscribers.

This is it for today. Keep an eye out for the next article where Selipha will look at the top 5 challenges faced by working mums and how you can overcome them.

(Image Credit: Pexels)

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. Contact Caroline to request for a Clarity Coaching Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.

How to use affirmations to accomplish your life goals

Do you use affirmations in your day-to-day life? Do you believe that affirmations can help you achieve your goals? Or that affirmations contribute largely to your personal development?

If you do, you already know the power that affirmations can wield in your life journey. You also know how effective affirmations can be in accomplishing goals.

And if not, we hope this article will convince you to use affirmations in your daily life.

Why use affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements or phrases that you say out loud repetitively and believe to be true.

They help to restructure your thought process by weeding out any negativity or lack of belief in oneself. The more you verbalise affirmations, the more you believe in them and consecutively achieve your desired goal.

Use of affirmations is a self-improvement technique that’s backed by science and has been proven to work on confidence, self-control, and problem-solving abilities. 

Use of affirmations has been proven to work on confidence, self-control, and problem-solving abilities. Click To Tweet

According to a study on chronically insecure people, when people who strongly fear rejection use affirmations for 15 minutes, they become more confident up to 8 weeks later.

In another research on self-affirmation and self-control, it emerged that the use of affirmations shapes the way humans interpret the world around them, thereby improving their self-control.

According to the study, affirmations work by helping you to interpret changes in your life, approach difficult situations and tackle barriers in your life journey.

So, if you want to achieve a certain goal but your weaknesses are holding you back, a daily dose of self-affirmations should do the trick.

For instance, let’s say you want to start a business. You have the idea, a well-laid out plan, and resources. However, you’re afraid of getting started. You also fear that you’re not cut out for business, that your idea is not good enough, or that people will reject it.

You can use affirmations to get rid of your fears and take the step towards realising your dreams.

How do you do that? Below is a short guide on how to use affirmations.

Related Article: Do You Have to Quit Your Job to Start a Business?

How to use affirmations to accomplish your life goals

Whether your goal is to start a business, get a promotion at work, improve your self-confidence, reduce social anxiety, or develop a personal relationship with God, affirmations work for everyone.

But before we talk about how to use affirmations, there are three rules you need to adhere to for the technique to work. Without these three rules, you can’t make progress.

First, you must verbalise each affirmation repetitively.

Second, you must believe every affirmation you say out loud. 

Finally, your affirmations must be stated positively and talk of what you want.

Without further ado, here is how to effectively use affirmations.

1. Identify what you want to achieve

To get started, think about your goals and write them down in terms of priority. This will make your affirmations more practical. You want a scenario where your affirmations actually work, not overwhelm you.

Once you have your goals in writing, prioritised and ready to go, make sure you have broken down each goal into something readily achievable.

For instance, let’s say your goal is “to achieve a positive lifestyle”. If you are constantly negative, this could take a lot of time to fully attain. 

You could then break down the goal into something you can achieve in the next four days or a week’s time, e.g. “I have a peaceful, joyful and more positive week.”

When repeated week after week, such a goal becomes a habit and leads you to a negativity-free life, accomplishing your major goal.

To easily identify what you want to achieve, focus on your negative attributes and weaknesses. Are you confident enough? Is there a trait you’d like to get rid of? What negative feedback have you gotten from your friends?

Conduct a self-evaluation test on yourself and write down all negative traits that keep you from succeeding. And then create goals that address these traits.

Related Article: How to Achieve Your Goals Effectively with 90 Day Goal Setting

2. Write down your affirmations

Using the goals you came up with in step one above, formulate your affirmations for each goal and write them down.

Putting down your affirmations on paper makes it easy for you to visualise what you are committing to do. It also helps you when you are feeling down and need to reaffirm yourself that all will be well.

Everything you write should be positive and in present tense, as if you have already achieved it. Use words such as “I am” and “I have” to begin your statements.  

For instance, let’s say your goal is “to achieve a personal relationship with God.” Some affirmations you can come up with include:

  • “I have a personal relationship with God.”
  • “God is my friend and companion.”
  • “I talk to God for one hour every day.
  • “I commit 10 minutes in the morning, lunch hour and at night to read the Bible.”

Avoid using statements like “I can” or “I willwhen creating affirmations because they don’t commit you to a specific thing or action.

Here’s another example. If, for instance you’re bad at saving money, you can set a goal to become better at saving and use an affirmation such as “I save XXXX/- every month and love seeing my savings accumulate” can help.

At first glance, affirmations may sound weird and untrue, but the more you say them out loud and believe, the better you will be at actualizing them.

The list of affirmations is endless as they are unique to each individual. An affirmation that works for another person will not necessarily work for you. Ensure that your affirmations are true to you and address your needs.

Related Article: 3 Personal Development Skills that Will Make You Unstoppable

3. Start using the affirmations

Once your affirmations feel right, it’s time to implement them.

To start with, make sure the affirmations are readily available. You don’t want a situation where you need a confidence boost and can’t find them.

Write the affirmations in your diary, on sticky notes at your desk, fridge, computer or car and on cards that you carry with you everywhere. If you are outdoors a lot, they should be in your wallet, purse, handbag,or pocket.

Use affirmations when you wake up, several times during the day, and just before you go to sleep. You can also incorporate them into your meditation practice. 

Keep in mind that, affirmations are more powerful when spoken out loud. This means that saying them to yourself internally is not as effective as speaking them out.

Do this every day and you will begin to see changes in your thoughts, feelings, attitude and behaviour.

Use affirmations when you wake up, several times during the day, and just before you go to sleep Click To Tweet

4. Enjoy the fruits of your labour

At first, you may not notice any progress. In fact, you’ll probably feel like fake, discouraged and even weird when you write and say your affirmations.

But when you complete the three steps above successfully, you should be able to see results over time.

You’ll become a more positive person, react to difficulties differently, and feel constantly motivated to achieve your goals.

Also, you will become more aware of negative traits you may not have known you had. When this happens, use your affirmations to reverse the negativity. 

Useful Resource: The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to
Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
 

Conclusion

Affirmations are great tools when you want to become a better person and achieve your life goals. When you write your affirmations by hand and repeat them daily, you’ll be able to accomplish any goal you’re working on.

Challenge yourself to use affirmations each month. Identify one weakness or negative trait you’d like to get rid of and create affirmations around it. Let this month become an experiment for you.

What affirmations have worked for you? Share your experience in the Comments and motivate others.

 (Image Credit: markamoment on Flickr)

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.

 

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How to handle difficult people and reduce stress

difficult people

You cannot avoid difficult people. At the workplace, in your business and even at home, there is that person or people who you wish didn’t exist in your life. Difficult people take away your peace, bring negativity into your life, and interfere with your daily performance.

You hold a barbecue on a Sunday afternoon, and your mother-in-law or sister is criticizing your salad. You’re trying really hard to make a point in a work meeting and one of your managers is shooting it down like he or she always does.

Or maybe you are in the middle of a meeting with a well-paying client, and he’s inappropriately touchy. It makes you want to storm out!

Handling difficult people is not easy. But if you want to get promoted at work, succeed in your business or maintain a happy family, you need to know how to get past them. The first step towards achieving this is singling them out of your life.

Related Article: Personal Development Skill #3: Take Control of Your Life

Common Characteristics of Difficult People

It’s very easy to form judgement about someone in a crowd. When someone approaches you and sparks a conversation, it’s easy to tell if you are likely to get along with them or not. Science has proven that it takes most humans a tenth of a second to make judgement on someone based on their facial expressions.

Unfortunately, this first judgement can be true or false. The way people seem at first impression is not necessarily true of their real characters. Here are characteristics to look out for in order to identify potentially difficult people.

They tend to be know-it-alls

If you have experienced someone who tends to know everything and anything about life, you have met a know-it-all.

This person believes they’re better than everyone else. They behave as if they’re sorry for the people around them and try to make everyone around them become like them. They are unbearable.

It’s hard for you to have an honest conversation around such people. Getting honest feedback is also a nightmare. According to them, they are the best in the game and no one can match up, even when they are plain wrong.

They’re quick to judge, criticize and complain

Another characteristic of difficult people is that they tend to complain, judge and criticize others. They find fault in everything you do, criticize your opinions when handling delicate matters, and challenge every move you make.

According to them, nothing you plan to do is sensible. Worst of all is that they don’t propose alternatives. Their work is to shoot down your opinions, views, ideas, and suggestions.

Related Article: Is Your Relationship Holding You Back from Success?

They’re bossy

You’ve probably experienced this difficult person more at least once in your life. You give your suggestions in detail, and then they say “No”. When you ask them why they said no, they say “I just don’t think it’s a good idea. Come up with something else and let’s see how it goes.”

The problem with this type of person is that they don’t care whether your idea is right or wrong. They shoot everything down in order to feel powerful every time they say NO.

Bossy people also like their ideas more than anyone else’s and they don’t care how fruitful or harmful their ideas are.

They can be pushovers

Some difficult people don’t have to be negative at all. Some are simply pushovers.

They agree with you, tell you how good your idea is it is and that you should go ahead to implement it. However, they disappear when reality hits. They can also turn around and take a popular opinion that’s opposite of what they had agreed with you.

Due to their need to be liked, they will agree with everything you say and never tell you what they really feel or think.

Pushovers will ruin your life in unexpected ways. They will ruin your new business, slow down efforts to complete a project at work, or destroy your plans to mend fences with other people.

They’re hostile for no reason

This is the most common characteristic of difficult people. They are hostile all the time and you can’t tell why they are that way or what you did to make them hostile towards you. According to them, frustrating you with insults, getting violent and succumbing to anger is the greatest motivator in their lives.

These are a few of the characteristics that difficult people at work, at home and in business possess. There are more others, but these seem common among most scenarios. Difficult people can cause increased stress in your life, depression in your marriage and lack of progress in your career.

Related Article: 10 Habits that Keep You Frustrated, Overwhelmed and Unfulfilled

How to Handle Difficult People and Reduce Stress

Unlike negative people, you cannot decide to avoid difficult people permanently. They are available at your workplace in form of co-workers and bosses.

They are in your home as children, spouses, in-laws, siblings or parents. You also find them in your business disguised as employees, suppliers or high-paying clients.

Luckily, you can learn how to handle them and avoid increased stress in your life. Here are 5 ways you can reduce stress that’s brought about by difficult people.

1. Examine yourself

Sometimes, it pays to evaluate who the difficult person is. This is because you may find that the difficult person has been you all along. This is not strange and neither is it something new you have to get accustomed to.

So, ask yourself, “Who is the difficult person in my life?” Is it you, your co-workers, boss, family member, friend or your business connections?

By figuring out the difficult party in your life, you can effectively learn how to deal with future difficulties in your life. If you are the difficult person, then invest in your personal development so that you become more positive.

2. Don’t join them

Assuming you are not the difficult person in your life, it’s time to focus on the people around you. Unfortunately, just like negativity is contagious, so are difficult people.

If you hang around a difficult person for a long time, you too can start picking up their negative character traits. It is for this reason that you must keep your guard up when it comes to dealing with difficult people.

If your parent(s), sibling(s), in-laws, husband, your boss, co-worker or favourite client is the difficult person in your life, make sure you do not absorb their traits.

Understand them as they are, keep your distance, and don’t allow yourself to take up their bad characteristics. This is not easy when the person is your spouse, but you have to find a way to reduce their toxicity.

Related Article: 8 Toxic Relationships that You Need to Detox From

3. Refrain from agreeing with them

When dealing with a difficult or negative person, it can be easy to agree with their sentiments.

For instance, let’s say you are in a new workplace and the colleague you’ve been assigned to work with is always negative about the boss.

Because you are new and don’t want to rub a new colleague the wrong way, you find yourself agreeing with what is being said. You also find yourself siding with them in times of conflict with other colleagues, despite your better judgement.

This is also true when you join a new family and the grapevine is to warn to you stay away from a member of that family for one reason or another.

In business you see the same scenario when you are looking for potential clients, and other “trustworthy” people in your industry already have an opinion towards one particular prospect or connection.

While it’s acceptable to borrow other’s opinions or to conduct your research on people before actually getting into a business deal, you need to be careful who you choose to follow. You may take advice blindly from a difficult person whose job is to cause chaos.

To avoid this, examine the characteristics of the people you meet, decide if they are the difficult kind and refrain from agreeing with their statements. By demonstrating that you don’t blindly agree with what is said, you can establish a strong boundary that’s not easily broken. This boundary will give you peace of mind.

Unfortunately, just like negativity is contagious, so are difficult people. Click To Tweet

4. Offer solutions to their problems

Based on the characteristics of difficult people we mentioned above, you will find that most difficult people are plagued by two major things: being highly critical and knowing everything. They hardly offer solutions but are quick to point out the problems and negative outcomes of an idea.

When dealing with a difficult person, learn how to shut them down. For instance, a know-it-all will either be genuinely smart about a topic or pretend to know what the outcome will be.

To counter any negativity or verbal attack during a work meeting, family gathering or business meeting, make sure you have done your research and have all the facts.

This will give you an upper hand whenever someone tries to put down your idea or undermines your suggestion.

5. If all else fails, ignore them or play dumb

Sometimes, playing dumb can be all the solution that you need to deal with difficult people. Because you cannot win in a verbal exchange with a hostile person, or in an argument with one (e.g. in-laws who get dramatic and drag your spouse into the argument), ignoring them can be a big win.

O.A. Battista’s quote, “There are times when silence is the best way to yell at the top of your voice” is especially true when trying to deal with difficult people. Instead of engaging these people in a brawl (they would love this) give them the silent treatment and pretend whatever they say or do doesn’t get to you.

If their actions are really hurtful, you can talk to someone later who will help you escape the frustration and pain of it all. This works well if you execute it immediately after a difficult situation.

Related Article: In-laws or Outlaws?

Conclusion

Difficult people are a normal part of our lives. They are with us every day and in all major events of our lives.

You can try to avoid them like you would negative people, but in the journey towards success, it is inevitable that you’ll have to deal with them. They factor in during decision-making and when you’re working on getting what you want in your life, career or business.

For these reasons, it is important that you master how to deal with difficult people. By doing so, you don’t have to worry about them stressing your life or causing you pain in your daily activities.

“There are times when silence is the best way to yell at the top of your voice.” O.A. Battista Click To Tweet

Are you stressing over the difficult people in your life?

As you may have discovered already, difficult people are here to stay. You can choose to let them continue stressing your life or decide to learn how to handle them. If you decide to learn how to deal with them, the simple tips highlighted above can help.

Also, you can enrol in a program that guarantees you a stress-free life by learning how to cope with various difficulties in your life.

Over to you…

Do you have other strategies for handling difficult people? Please share what has worked for you in the Comments below.

(Image Credit: Sira Anamwong at Free Digital Photos)

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.

 

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Is your relationship holding you back from success?

your relationship

Let’s face it; success is not an overnight occurrence.

You don’t go to bed hoping you’ll succeed and wake up the next day having achieved it. Certain factors are required to work together over a period of time to achieve success.

Factors required include having the right mindset, goal setting capabilities, hard work, resilience, and dedication, among others.

Additionally, you have to surround yourself with the right people. These are people who are quick to offer support, motivation and push you to do better.

This is where your relationship comes in. Your husband, boyfriend or that friend you’ve been spending most of your time with plays a big role in your success journey.

In fact, research has shown that your spouse’s personality influences your daily motivation, output, decisions and the extent to which you can dream.

Today, let’s take a deeper look at your relationship. Using fresh eyes, evaluate whether your relationship is holding you back from success. And then plan to take action.

Here are 4 signs to look out for during the self-evaluation.

Signs that Your Relationship is Holding You Back from Success

1. You don’t get congratulated as often as you should

You know that wonderful feeling when someone you love congratulates you for good work done? Or when you overcome a barrier that could have cost you your new business? Or that feeling when you get home, share the news about your promotion and your husband says, “Congratulations! Let’s go out and celebrate”?

Being congratulated is a powerful feeling. It means much more to you when your spouse or romantic partner congratulates you than when your boss, business partner or clients do it.

You feel appreciated, loved and empowered to keep going until you reach your dreams. Nothing can stop you when your relationship offers you this kind of support.

The opposite is true when your partner does not appreciate your efforts, celebrate your wins or encourage you to become the best version of yourself.

You tend to feel lost, drained and constantly frustrated. Your mind is filled with thoughts of why they don’t appreciate you. This has the potential to bring down your motivation and hold you back from succeeding.

Related Article: 10 Nasty Habits that Keep You Frustrated, Overwhelmed and Unfulfilled

2. You hardly ever discuss your goals

When was the last time you shared your business goals, work goals or life goals with your spouse or partner? When was a time you sat down and discussed your career or business goals in depth? And when you did, what reception did you get?

For many of you, I believe your answers lead towards “I can’t remember the last time”, or “Almost never”.

Many women around the world, and especially in Africa, are afraid to discuss their goals with their husbands and boyfriends because they are afraid of how it will be received. You do this, not because you do not know your spouse, but because you already expect a negative outcome.

This is not entirely your fault. From birth, women are generally conditioned to believe that a man’s career is more important than the woman’s. The kitchen and taking care of kids is a woman’s job and men are supposed to work and provide.

Not many people talk to you about being a career woman or successful business woman. These are things you discover for yourself as you acquire knowledge and meet like-minded people.

It is for this reason that, as a woman, you find it hard to discuss goals in your relationship. You worry that your husband might ask questions like:

  • “Who will take care of the children when you take on more responsibilities at work?”
  • “Who will make dinner when you are out late for a business or work meeting?”
  • Or the classic, “Why do you need to earn more money when I provide enough for you and the kids?”

And yet, you are capable of succeeding to greater heights when your partner is supportive of your goals.

If you’re afraid of sharing your goals, start today and see how it all pans out. If you have discussed your goals with your partner and he did not support your vision, know you are a victim of your relationship holding you back and learn how to break free and succeed anyway.

3. Your ideas and suggestions are constantly met by negativity

Similar to discussing goals with your partner, negative reception to your ideas can be a great barrier for your success at work, in business or even as a partner. It’s hard to reach your maximum potential when your relationship is a ball of negativity.

This is because, whether you realize it or not, constant rejection of your ideas and suggestions affects your confidence, mental well-being, self-esteem and general outlook on life.

You might not notice it at first. However, if you look closely, you’ll find that you tend to lack confidence in your ideas and make a lot of decisions based on what other people say. These two habits directly affect your chances of success.

For instance, let’s say you work as a Key Accounts Manager and had an idea on how to close your next big client. Because you know this would be a big milestone for you (probably meaning more commissions or a promotion), the first thing you do is talk about it with your partner.

Unfortunately, your partner is not as enthusiastic of your idea as you are. He smirks at your idea and outlines all the possible ways the idea could go wrong. You don’t get a single positive thought.

Nor does he encourage you to mention it to your boss, or propose a different angle. He just hates it or thinks it’s stupid and doesn’t shy away from telling you exactly that.

The result is that you probably also end up hating your idea and don’t mention it at your next meeting. You also slowly start losing trust in your future suggestions, and never going after your BIG goals and dreams.

And just like that, success becomes something you see in other people and constantly dream about.

Related Article: How to Get What You Want in Your Relationship

4. You find it more peaceful to keep your achievements a secret

Achieving optimal success is difficult if you are that woman who keeps her achievements a secret from your partner. The secret could be a land you purchased, an investment you made, a business idea you’re working on, or a recent promotion.

Some women do this as a way of life. But there’s a large number who do it because life is better (and more peaceful) that way. If this is you, there will always be something holding you back.

Think about it…for how long can you keep your achievements or investments a secret from your partner?

You’ll probably attend a friend’s birthday party with your partner and someone will congratulate you on that promotion at work.

Or…imagine running into the property lawyer you worked with when purchasing land and she or he asks, “How is that land taking you? Did you already start building on it?” In that moment, nothing will save you from having to explain to your partner what’s going on.

This leads to a more strained relationship. More achievements kept a secret. This adds more barriers in your journey towards success because you cannot freely follow your dreams.

Achievements are meant to be celebrated, not kept a secret. If your relationship makes you want to keep them a secret, that’s a sign that it’s holding you back from achieving true success.

Achievements are meant to be celebrated, not kept a secret. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

I’m sure these signs are not new to you. You’ve probably lived through one or all of them at one time in your life. Or maybe you’re currently living them and have accepted this as a normal way of living.

According to you, “Ni kawaida” and “There is nothing I can do”. Well, you are wrong about these two things.

First, you can be in a relationship where your partner shares in your goals, supports what you do and is your number one motivator. So no, it is not “kawaida”. Your relationship should push you towards success, not hold you back from it.

Second, it is not true that there is nothing you can do about your relationship holding you back from success. In today’s world, there is always something that can be done to achieve fulfillment. You only need to want it and go for it.

For instance, you and your partner can participate in programs that can help your spouse become more supportive. As an individual, you can gain confidence by enrolling in a personal development program.

It all begins with a decision to try to use tactics that have been proven to work.

Are you tired of living your life on other people’s terms?

Turning your life around is possible using the information in this article. But did you know that you can make it easier with our personal development programs? Attending a professional program will not only help you change your current life, it will also make you execute decisions that you’ve avoided and act on your BIG goals.

Sign up for the next Live Your Life coaching program.

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.

 

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10 nasty habits that keep you frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled

habits

We all experience these feelings at one time or another. You feel frustrated when your business does not pick up as you expected, your boss does not recognize your efforts at work, or when you are suddenly not connecting with your spouse.

You are not alone.

From simple situations like misplacing a pair of earrings or car keys to major ones like losing your job or your business falling apart, frustration walks among us. Unfortunately, the more prone you are to frustration, the more likely you are to become a victim of chronic stress.

The same is true when you are repeatedly overwhelmed and unfulfilled. Maybe your relationship, job, church or circle of friendship no longer brings you happiness and you constantly feel the need to leave. Or you feel as if you are drowning from too much pressure in your day-to-day activities. This is a sign of overwhelm and unfulfillment, which if not addressed, will affect your well-being negatively.

Luckily, there is a solution that can lessen this state of being frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled all the time. The solution begins with identifying the problem. Useful questions to ask yourself include: “What is causing me to feel these negative emotions?” “What can I do about it?”

By understanding the causes, you can embark on a journey towards emotional healing. You can’t do this before you first understand what it is that keeps you frustrated, overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

The more prone you are to frustration, the more likely you are to become a victim of chronic stress. Click To Tweet

10 habits that lead to frustration, overwhelm and unfulfillment

1. Always seeking validation

Many people tend to seek permission from others when thinking of taking certain actions or contemplating decisions. This is an occurrence that’s backed by science, which reveals that the part of our brain related to reward is energized when others agree with our own opinions, and vice versa.

You’ve probably sought validation from others consciously or unconsciously. For instance, can you remember a time you wanted to go on a date with someone you met but you weren’t sure about what to do?

What did you do? You probably called up your closest friends or sibling and told them about what you were contemplating. You then proceeded to ask if they thought it was a good idea. Finally, you made a decision based on their response(s).

While it’s okay to share your thoughts with the people closest to you, constantly asking others what decision they think is appropriate will only work against you. After all, in the end, you’re the one that will live with the result whether you take action or not.

Related article: Personal Development Skill #1: Confidence

2. Complaining

Every one of us is, or has been, a victim of complaining. You want to get your Pizza faster than everyone else so you complain about how slow the service is. When trying to make it to a meeting across town, you find a traffic jam and complain about it. Your spouse bought you flowers on Valentine’s Day but didn’t include a gift, so you call your friends to complain.

The result is a bad attitude that drives the people around you farther away. You also end up constantly frustrated because things never seem to work your way. Instead of complaining, focus on establishing new tricks to deal with daily inconveniences and disappointments. You can take 10 minutes to meditate, count 1 to 10 when you feel like complaining, or even say a short prayer.

Related article: Becoming Solution-Oriented

Instead of complaining, focus on establishing new tricks to deal with daily inconveniences and disappointments. Click To Tweet

3. Blaming others

This is the constant classic. You have probably blamed someone this week, if not several people. From being stuck in traffic and blaming matatu drivers, being late for church and blaming your husband or kids for taking too long, to blaming your failed progress on people who’ve hurt you in the past. We’ve all blamed someone.

Yet, sometimes the blame lies solely with the people we decide to assign blame. But will blaming others ever solve the problems you have? The answer is no.

Also, expecting people who have wronged you to apologise or change the outcome will never happen. This will not help if you can’t solve the problems,

Instead of blaming others, seek fulfilment by accepting your part of the blame and focusing on the next best thing. As Jack Canfield teaches in the book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, the ability to take 100% responsibility for your life and the results your life has given is the first step to positive change.

Take responsibility for your life and stop complaining or blaming others people for your lack of success. Make a commitment to take action on your goals so that your life improves to match your dreams.

4. Procrastination

How many times have you postponed saying “I love you” to your spouse or children? Do you constantly postpone work you are supposed to do? How many times have you postponed working on a new business idea, asking for a raise, starting to exercise?

For most people, I would think the answer to these questions is “Many times.” I also bet that you can’t come up with an actual figure.

Procrastination makes you think about something over and over and brings about the pressure to do it. At the same time, it causes frustration when you can’t bring yourself to actually do the things you’re thinking about. Procrastination is an evil that eats up your spirit, consumes your energy and steals your dreams. Avoid it like a plague.

Related article: 5 Steps to Get Unstuck and Live Your Dream Life

Take responsibility for your life and stop complaining or blaming others people for your lack of success. Click To Tweet

5. Living too much in the future

I’ve been a victim of this nasty habit. Luckily for my happiness and mental well-being, I learnt how to get rid of it. Allow me to elaborate. I live in a one bedroom house. When I moved in about 2 years ago, I only had enough kitchen amenities to make a meal and a mattress that doubled as a bed and sitting area.

At first, I didn’t mind it too much. I was starting out like everyone else and knew that in a few months, I’d buy a couch, bed, TV and fill up my house. I even laid out a plan of where everything would go: the colours of the carpet, TV stand and couch, and the type of bed to buy.

In short, I was winning at building castles in the air.

I refused to embrace the situation I was in and only lived for what would become my new abode.

Two months down the line, I reeked of negativity. From anger, complaining, frustrations, irritation and unfulfillment, I had it all.

And then my friends started pulling away because I was no longer fun to be around. It took an intervention from my brother and another 3 months to realize my problem. To date, I still remember his question. “Kui, kwanini unaishi maisha ya kesho?”

I later embarked on a journey that taught me how to live in the present while still planning for the future. Today, I have found my peace and happiness.

You can get rid of this habit of living in the future. When you live too much in the future, you lose out on enjoying the life you have today. It’s also easy to get depressed if your future dreams are taking too long to materialize.

Related article: 5 Surprising Lessons From My Personal Mid-Year Review

6. Not accepting your past

We all have a past. Some of us accepted the past as it is and moved on to the present. Unfortunately, many people , keep their past close to them. You use it as a reference to explain bad events in your life. It’s also a convenient excuse not to take action to better your life. And so you keep asking God why He’s not changing your life for the better.

Living in your past is as deadly as living in the future. You can’t fully accomplish what you are working on in the present and you will find yourself unhappy most of the time.

By accepting the past as it is and focusing on your present, you tend to discover new things, appreciate existing ones, and find solutions to current problems. An outcome that’s enviable by all.

Related article: 5 Steps to Overcome Failure and Bounce Back

When you live too much in the future, you lose out on enjoying the life you have today. Click To Tweet

7. Comparing your life to others

Social Media has enabled everyone to expose their lives to the world. You can tell where someone went for vacation, when they buy a new car and when they get engaged or married. Unfortunately, many people only post the nice photos. Our faces are without blemish, our backgrounds are spotless and the locations are impressive. We post about our acquisitions and when good things are happening in our lives.

It’s easy to get envious about other people’s lives and feel the need to match up to the kind of lives that look better. When someone shares posts from Dubai, you start researching affordable flights and hotels. If it’s too expensive or your time does not allow, you then research on cool places to go on a vacation in Kenya. All so that you too have something to show off to your virtual friends.

It’s not strange then when frustration kicks in because your life situation does not allow you to live this better-looking life. You’ll also have another headache when you get into debt while trying to live a lifestyle that’s beyond your means.

Your life is awesome the way it is. If you want to make it better, work on your goals, dreams and desires. Don’t use other people’s lives as a target.

Related article: Personal Development Skill #3: Take Control of Your Life

8. Lack of goals

Like procrastination, the absence of goals will frustrate and overwhelm you. If you decide to work on something without setting actual goals, you can’t track the progress of what you are doing. You will not know whether your efforts are translating into results, or if you are making any progress at all. It’s also easy to get caught up working very hard on actions that will not lead to the achievement of your dreams.

This then leads you to a state where you keep asking, “Why aren’t things changing?” or “Why am I in the same situation as I was one month ago?

A life without goals will not only frustrate and overwhelm you. It will also leave you unfulfilled and stressed when years pass by and you stay stuck. Identify your dreams, turn them into goals, work on the goals and keep track of your progress every day, week, month and year.

Related article: How to Achieve Your Goals With 90-Day Goal Setting

Your life is awesome the way it is. If you want to make it better, work on your goals, dreams and desires. Click To Tweet

9. Allowing fear to lead you

Fear has kept many people from going for their dreams and living better lives.

You have a business idea you’d like to start but you are too afraid. You are afraid to quit your full-time job to venture into business, you are afraid people will talk and you are afraid you will become another statistic of failure. So you end up not starting on the business, you remain at that job you really hate, and remain in an abusive relationship. All because you are afraid.

But for how long will you be afraid? Imagine how much you would accomplish if fear was not an aspect and how happy you would become.

In the book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg asked all women, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Think hard about this question and write down all the things you would do if you weren’t afraid. Pick one of these things and imagine how great it will feel when you achieve it. Then master the courage to actually do it, starting today.

Here are 2 resources you can get today if you’re still afraid to lean into your fear:

Related article: Personal Development Skill #2: Courage

10. Accommodating negative people

Negativity kills relationships and friendships. It overpowers a positive mood and makes your attitude toxic. There is nothing good that comes with negativity. This means that accommodating negative people in your life also affects you greatly. Since research has shown that negativity is contagious, you are bound to absorb this bad trait and lead a more frustrated life.

Look at the people in your circle. Are there people who are constantly negative? Does their behaviour irk you? What then are you doing hanging out with this person or people?

Also evaluate yourself. Are you the one who is always negative? Have you noticed people avoiding you or walking away when you join a group? This reflection is not easy, but it’s necessary if you want to have a happier and more fulfilled life.

When you have your answers, focus on achieving a more positive life. Weed out the negative people and become more positive yourself.

Related article: 8 Toxic Relationships You Need to Detox From

Negativity is contagious, you are bound to absorb this bad trait and lead a more frustrated life. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

These 10 habits are by no means new to you. It’s not possible to move through life without indulging in them at one time or another. This is OK. The challenge comes when they become your regular habits. Make the effort to start weeding them out one by one and replace them with more positive and empowering habits. In this way, you will not only improve your life but also positively affect the lives of those around you.

Over to you…

Which of the 10 nasty habits are you a victim of? Is there a habit you are currently struggling with?

Share in the comments below and let’s see how we can help one another avoid these bad habits. After all, a problem shared is a problem half solved.

(Image Credit: Sira Anamwong at Free Digital Photos)

Selipha Kihagi is a content writer, freelance writer and digital marketer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She spends her days creating blog posts and articles for the purpose of informing, entertaining, educating and inspiring action. She believes that the written word is an important tool towards effecting change in the world. If you share this belief, find her on LinkedIn for a personal interaction.

 

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Should I stay or should I go?

abusive relationships

Talking about abusive relationships is not easy, especially when you’ve been through one yourself. And so this blog post was not an easy one to write. I’ve struggled with it over time and avoided making it public. I did send it to my newsletter readers once. However, I was unable to turn it into a blog post despite positive feedback from my readers.

I can only say that this is one of those articles that one battles with and the topic refuses to let go of you until it’s written. It’s an open and raw article where I share my experience of leaving an abusive marriage.

So here goes…

Warning: This is a very long post.

No peace of mind; no sleep

In August 2016, the media in Kenya was awash with the story of a woman whose husband cut off her hands. That story gave me sleepless nights and reminded me of my experience in an abusive marriage.

I was also out of sorts because people had asked me to share my story publicly but I shied away from it. Mwende’s story showed me that it was time to speak out.

In the end, I wrote a heartfelt email to my newsletter readers and shared my experience. Writing today’s article still feels raw, as it did a year ago. However, I know that refusing to write it will not make it go away. It will simply simmer in the back of mind and give me more sleepless nights!

I’ve given up the fight today, surrendered to the Great Voice within, and written the article. I’m writing it for peace of mind, if for nothing else.

This article contains my personal experience and it’s not meant to replace professional help. Seek relevant medical, financial, psychological and legal help if you’re in an abusive marriage or relationship. Do this before making decisions or taking actions that will impact your life.

Going down memory lane

The moment Jackline Mwende’s story hit the headlines, I was spun down memory lane and not in a nice way.

Mwende’s husband cut off her arms in August 2016. She was lucky because well wishers got together and helped her get new mechanical arms.

Reading the story and listening to Mwende was scary to say the least. I was saddened by some comments made in social media. There were some really vicious comments from people who wondered why Mwende stayed with such a man.

Having been in an abusive marriage, I know how hard it is for a woman to finally get the courage to leave. And I know that only a few are able to leave. I understood Mwende’s wish to try to make things work because I’ve done that, even when my life and the lives of my children were in danger.

The one thing that kept going through my mind as I read the follow-up stories was the statement, “There, but for the grace of God goes I.” I also thanked God for having given me the strength and courage to leave…because I was headed down a not-so-nice road.

More information has emerged about their marriage, but this should not take our attention from the fact that he was an abuser.

The reality of abuse in marriage and relationships

Women in abusive relationships struggle with the decision to stay or go. There are also others who are not in abusive relationships, but they know deep inside that this is not the relationship for them.

Worse still, are the women who feel that they cannot leave. Fear is a strong motivation to stay. Some don’t have the financial ability to take care of their children. Others are held back by their roles or status in society. And others are shells after being abused for so long.

I was one of these women and I still find it hard to talk about it because it feels as if ‘nimeanika’ my family.

Still, these are experiences that need to be shared. For one, sharing gives others the strength to take action. Sharing will also makes it harder for abuse to stay a secret. Abuse is powerful because the abused keep silent.

If this article is not relevant to you, I urge you to share it with other women. I’ve met women who sought my help because of something I wrote. Someone forwarded my newsletter or article to them requesting that they forward to their friends too.

The person who sent the email had no idea that they were sending it to someone who was struggling. I also know that people contact me because it’s easier to talk to a stranger about abuse than it is to talk to people who know you.

On the other hand, if you’re the one that benefits from this article, I’m doubly blessed for having shared this information with you.

Let's talk about abuse. Abuse is powerful because the abused keep silent. Click To Tweet

My personal experience

I had what looked like a great life and women envied me. I never had to work unless I wanted to. Things were very different away from the public eye – life was full of pain and tears.

For many years, my goals list had one goal at the top: to leave my husband. I set this goal every year and never achieved it. I tried many things to gain courage including walking on fire, but my fear was stronger than my desires.

Sometimes the wish to leave was stronger and I even moved out a couple of times and then came back. My home had become a prison that I was unable to escape from for long periods of time.

I still remember how hard it was to go back home after dropping my children in school each morning. Some days were especially hard and there were several times when I was a danger to other motorists because I would drive while crying. There were times had to stop and park the car by the roadside and cry until the inner pain eased enough for me to drive home – back to my prison.

Many days I’d stand at my bedroom window, looking outside while thinking, “This is my prison and I need to escape.”

Yet, I still stayed.

Looking back, I feel as if I was a well-trained animal that had no concept of leaving or breaking out. Kind of like the circus elephant that’s held in place by a small rope. And I think women in abusive relationships feel the same way. You’re only free as far as the mental leash your abuser holds can stretch.

A dark night of the soul and mind

The day I left my home was no different from the others.  No one told me to leave. I certainly didn’t plan for it to happen that day. I left after a sleepless night that was full of emotional abuse.

That night, suicide and homicide became viable options. At one point, I found myself cataloguing all the chemicals and medicines in the house, wondering which ones would work fast. At another point, I started thinking of ways that I could do away with my husband (yes, you read that right) because the world didn’t feel big enough for both of us.

I finally broke down around midnight and started chanting silently, “Holy Spirit, protect me. Holy Spirit, guide me.” This prayer had been my pillar and it kicked in when I needed it most.

After some time, I called my mum and cried for an hour, telling her that I couldn’t take it anymore. When I hang up, mum called my sis who called and helped me calm down. All this happened as my husband stood threateningly over me, but I no longer cared. I was ready to die and didn’t give a damn anymore.

In the morning, I lied to my husband that I had physical coaching sessions. I felt the need to leave the house for a few hours and breathe. As I was leaving, he took my keys and told me that from now on I’d have to call him to come open the door for me anytime I left home.

That was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back! I mean, why bother when I no longer have a home to go back to?

The Voice that changed it all

I cried all the way to Prestige Plaza on Ngong Road (Nairobi) while telling God, “This has to end. You have to give me a solution because I can’t take it anymore!”  I sat in the food court at the plaza for 2 hours with a blank mind.

Then came a voice in my head that asked, “What are you going back for?”

It was such a clear question that I looked at the chair next to me because I thought someone had slipped there while I was blank.

The question was repeated a second and a third time.

That was it!

I call this a Divine Intervention because I got a sense of courage and inner power that day that has never left me.

I called my parents to ask whether I could move back home for a month or two and then called my sisters and told them that I was done. The next step involved picking my children from school and getting them a few pairs of clothes and underwear. My last stop for the day was my parents’ place, where I found my mum and dad very worried and anxious.

My last call was to my best friend. She only had 2 questions: “Are you safe?” and “What have you carried from your house?” When I told her that I had carried nothing except my work stuff, she responded me that I was now ready to leave.

In an abusive relationship, you're only free as far as the mental leash your abuser holds can stretch. Click To Tweet

The journey to recovery

I didn’t know how tired I was until I got to my parents’ home.  I felt safe and secure – like a baby. This feeling was so powerful that I slept for over 12 hours.

Prior to that, I used to sleep 3 hours a night because of verbal abuse from my husband. It’s also hard to sleep well when you’re told “Toka uende zako.” daily, followed by threats of what will happen if I do leave.

That was on 1st July 2014 and I have not looked back since then. The journey to emotional, psychological and financial recovery has been challenging, but the courage and peace that I got on that day has remained.

Today, I sleep peacefully no matter the challenges that are facing me the next day. My children are thriving and my business, which I had to rebuild from scratch, is growing.

When I walked out of my home, I left everything that I once thought was important. I don’t have those things, but I have never felt happier and more fulfilled. Best of all, I know that the future is determined by my decisions and I am now in a place to achieve my other goals.

Should you stay or go?

When thinking of whether to stay or go, other questions come to mind. These include:

  • How do you decide whether to leave or stay?
  • What factors should influence your decision?
  • Is leaving always the right thing to do?
  • What will other people think or say about you when you leave?
  • If you decide to leave, then how do you do it without jeopardizing your life, relationships, and/or finances?
  • How safe will you be when you leave? (This is a strong motivator to stay for those who have been threatened with dire consequences should they leave – it certainly made me stay…).

I cannot answer these questions for you and I will not claim to know what is right from what is wrong. All I know is that it’s almost impossible to leave if you allow the questions above to hold you back.

I also know that abuse progresses with time until you become a shallow version of who you were. You die on the inside and the shell just does things on autopilot. At that point, the abuser will have won.

Here’s some help for you

This is not a journey that you can walk alone. You need the help of other people, be it in books, programs or physical help.

Below are some resources that helped me explore and make a decision that worked for me. None of these resources tell you what to do, they simply help you evaluate your situation and make objective decisions.

1. Books to help you move forward

This book was written by David Steele of the Relationship Coaching Institute (RCI). I was lucky to get this information in a teleclass and a free book. I even went as far as becoming a relationship coach for one year. Helping other women mend or get the courage to leave abusive relationships helped me heal too.

This book is a powerful resource if you want to help someone you care about make an impartial decision. Also, check out RCIs resources for singles and married couples.

 

If finances are tight after you’ve left, get a copy of The Successful Single Mom by Honoree Corder. This is an amazing resource for all women and not just single mums.

The book gives you an outline of what you need to do to get yourself back on track. It walks you through a healing and recovery process, which is a bonus.

You can also use the book in a group together with other single mums who are working on recovering their lives and finances.

 

Also, go to Amazon.com and search for books titled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” (without the quotation marks). Read the introductions and reviews of a few books and then pick 2-3 that speak to you.

2. Work with a professional e.g. therapist, counsellor, relationship or life coach.

Don’t pick a professional blindly. Ask people for advice and look from someone who listens and validates you. Be wary of professionals who try to make you think or act in a certain way – you don’t need that at this point.

If you cannot find someone, or don’t want to go public, then contact me. I’ll send you contacts of therapists whom I refer people to. At the moment, I only know good therapists in Nairobi and welcome recommendations for other towns too.

What if you don’t feel ready for therapy or have tried therapy and it didn’t work for you? If this is you, then check out the Break Free program.  I created the program based on my personal experience, my experience coaching women, and training in NLP (Neuro-Linguistics Programming) and coaching.

NLP is a very powerful process that will give you confidence, courage and control over your life. With NLP, you move from feeling disempowered to being totally empowered in a very short time.

Working with a life coach is a powerful and life-changing experience. My life coach Shilpa Shah helped me heal emotional scars I didn’t even know I had. She didn’t address my marriage directly, but she helped me realize that I was not a victim. Through working with her, I became courageous enough to take the last step to freedom.

In one of my sessions with Shilpa, I visualized myself driving alone to Mombasa. That freaked me out because I feared long-distance driving. I also didn’t see myself free enough to leave my marriage and move to another town. Shockingly, I did exactly that. Events unfolded such that I drove all the way to Mombasa alone on 1st December 2014.

That, however, is a story for another day.

Abuse progresses with time until you become a shallow version of who you once were. Click To Tweet

3. Report the abuse

This is critical whether you decide to stay or go. One thing that stopped the death threats in my case was when I made a report to the police.

I know many women have not had a great experience with police. I’ve been to police stations where the policemen manning the front desk made a great show of telling me how stupid I was. Some laughed outright. Others made me walk through my story and never recorded it in the O/B book. And others teased me saying that I was not a good wife.

One policeman actually told me that my marriage was doomed from the start due to tribal differences (I’m a Kikuyu who was married to a Luo). In all our years together, even through fights and drama, tribe was never an issue in my family. We had even reached a point of agreement not to vote because our votes would probably cancel each other.

The police at Langata Police Station in Nairobi helped me out twice. They also told me that all police stations have at least one police woman who is trained in gender violence. This is the person you need to ask for when you go to a police station.

Over the years, I had tried getting help from other places including church, going to Cradle, FIDA, the Children’s Court and hiring a lawyer. None of these helped and the lawyer took off with my money. Running around from one place to another left me bitter.  So I now had another level of anger and disappointment to work through!!!

I’m not saying that these institutions don’t work. What I’m saying is that it might be better to make the report and then focus on getting your inner strength before taking further action.

4. Create a circle of support

Family and friends have been my biggest sources of help. I didn’t set out to create the circle, and I have seen it’s amazing strength.

My parents have stood by me as I carved a new life. In the process of healing, I also made peace with my dad, whom I never used to connect with. He came through and has supported me in a silent way with questions like “Are you OK?” and “What help do you need from us?” These are simple but powerful ways for an elderly African man to show his support without proclaiming it out loud.

I’m an introvert and tend to go into a shell when I’m hurting. My sisters bulldoze their way into that shell. They never allow me to wallow in there for long. They’ve been my rocks emotionally, psychologically, and financially. I know my experience took a toll on them, but they’ve never wavered in making sure I’m OK.

My elder brother and brothers-in-law came through in unexpected ways by connecting directly with my sons. This provided my sons with a safe place to discuss male issues without me having to know about it (phew!).

I’ve also been blessed with friends who were there to talk to at any time. Sometimes there’s stuff that’s too deep to share with your family. Your soul sisters can help you work through such stuff.

One thing that’s common is that all these people refused to allow me to go into depression. I know for sure I would not be writing this article today were it not for my circle.

I urge you to create a circle if you’re in an abusive relationship. You need people who will support you now and in the future, no matter the decisions you make.

Your future is determined by your decisions. Click To Tweet

5. Read or listen to something empowering each day

I read something that makes me feel good each day. I also listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts. There’s a lot of information on the internet so check around and find someone who uplifts you and use their books, audios, or videos.

To boost your morale further, create a playlist of music that lifts your heart and makes you feel powerful and strong. Listen to this playlist daily. Save it on your phone, burn audio CDs to listen to in your car, and save the playlist on your computer. Make friends with the freedom offered in the songs.

Whatever your religion, there are texts that will give you a stronger spiritual foundation. The Bible is my main source of inspiration, motivation and learning. I use the Jesus Calling Devotional Bible. It’s a King James Version with devotions from Sara Young. I bought myself this Bible as a birthday present on 20th January 2014. Little did I know that it was going to change my life for years to come!

One of the things a woman loses when she’s in an abusive relationship is the ability to feel in control of her life. These simple touchstones – being able to make something just for yourself – are a way of starting to reclaim your strength and power.

A new life with a new perspective

If you’ve read this far, then this is an issue that burns your heart. And it’s now time for me drop a bombshell. For all that I was in an abusive marriage, I’m aware that there is a role I played in allowing the abuse to continue.

There was also a time when I got so courageous that I became an emotional abuser to my husband and turned the tables for some time. Of course that didn’t last long, but it felt so good while it lasted! It’s very easy to cross the line and once you cross it, it will be hard for you to go back.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, you need to take responsibility for the 50% part of the mess that belongs to you. Also, know that you always have options in life. You have chosen the option you’re living now or helped make it a stronger reality for you. Not making a choice either way is actually making a choice for things to stay the same or get worse.

Now, I’ve met people who expect me to be bitter and angry with my husband. Some also expect me to be anti-marriage and relationships.

I smile when I meet such people because healing and forgiveness have played a huge role in my life. I’ve forgiven and healed from the inside out, which has made me happier and stronger.

Finally, I still believe in love and marriage. I also believe that:

  • Being in empowering relationships helps us find our best selves.
  • It’s possible for abusers to recover and become great partners (I’ve seen this happen in some relationships).
  • We can turn the tide that is sweeping our country and heal both men and women.

Can you turn around an abusive relationship?

I get requests for help from women who are in abusive relationships. They hear my story and want me to help them leave. Sadly, this is not a step that anyone can help you with.

Even the professionals you seek will only help you to a certain point. There is a point where only you can go. This is a point where only you can make the decisions and take the necessary actions.

The only time I tell someone to leave their marriage is when they and/or the children are in danger. Other times, I ask 3 questions:

  • Do you respect your husband?
  • If all things were sorted out, would you still want to stay married to him?

If the person answers “Yes” to these two questions, I then ask:

  • Are you willing to work on your marriage for the next 6-12 months, even if your husband doesn’t do anything or change?

These are the questions I would want to leave you with today if you are in a relationship or marriage that is not to your liking.

I believe that a woman can live with a man if she respects him. Once respect flies out of the door, then your relationship is doomed.

And, if a woman believes she’s safe and is willing to work on herself and her marriage, then the marriage has a very high hope of recovery.

It takes lots of love, courage, patience and persistence to stay and heal your relationship from within. The best thing is that, if you do this and things don’t work out, you can leave knowing that you gave it your all.

Negativity has never created a good life for anyone, so why indulge in it? Click To Tweet

What next?

My new way forward

I strongly believe in the power of forgiveness. I’ve seen the best and worst aspects of myself and my husband. I lived through it and survived it.

I no longer hate him and have created an environment where my children respect their dad. They have a relationship and communicate directly with him. We, the parents, may have separated, but will forever be bound by the children. It doesn’t matter how their dad acts or what he says about me. What matters is my behaviour and how I handle myself.

That is why you will not find me trolling in hate groups. I also don’t spend time with people want to talk ill of their spouses. Negativity has never created a good life for anyone, so why indulge in it?

Now, I’m not a saint. I do have my moments and get angry – especially when finances are tight. It’s also lonely being a single mum. Throw in 2 teenage sons and you have a recipe for so many disasters!

One thing that I pray for is to be able to create a place where women and children can heal from abuse and get back on their feet. I want to have a place where a woman feels safe. A place where any woman is able to get the emotional, psychological, physical, financial and professional help she needs before she can start over as a single mum.

Finally, I dream of Kenya turning into an environment that does not support abuse in any form. I want to be part of the change process in our country and help women rediscover who they are. And once they do this, they can create new lives, new relationships, and have a new way of looking at marriage and relationships.

Your way forward

No woman has to stay in an abusive relationship. The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave. Constant exposure to abuse will drain you and leave you completely at the mercy of the abuser. Here are some resources to help you move forward if you’re ready to make changes.

  • If you’re in an abusive relationship

Reach out to someone you trust and whom you know will hold your information in confidence. If you have no one like that in your life, contact me and let’s think things through together. Also, check out the resources and assessments on the Couple for Life website (it’s owned by the Relationship Coaching Institute). If you’re struggling to make a decision, then seek professional help. If your relationship is physically abusive and you and/or your children are in danger, find a way of leaving.

  • If you suspect a friend or relative is in an abusive relationship

Reach out to them softly and be their cushion. They will probably deny it if you ask them outright, but will open up when you persist. I thank God for my sisters, mum, and friends who never gave up on me! When you reach out, take care not to get sucked into their drama. Get a copy of David Steele’s book Should I Stay Or Should I Go to help you stay objective even as you help them.

  • Share this article with other women

Abuse happens to the most unlikely people and you never know who you could be helping. While it’s not easy knowing that this article will be read widely, I do know that many women will benefit from knowing that they are not alone or from the resources given here.

  • Do you want to regain your confidence?

Are you interested in learning strategies that will help you gain confidence and have the courage to take control of your life? Check out the Break Free program. This program will help you get unstuck and start living your dream life. You can attend the preview teleclass or live workshop to get a feel of it before enrolling in the main program. Feel free to invite other women for the teleclass, workshop or group program.

Your turn…

This article is my open letter to you, one that forced its way into being. Writing it was both scary and somewhat cathartic. I’d love to hear what you think.

Please share your thoughts, comments, experiences and any more tips or resources in the Comments below.

 

Caroline Gikonyo works with high-achieving professional and business women who are stuck, overwhelmed, overworked, unhappy and unfulfilled. She helps her clients become leaders in their professions and business industries once they get unstuck, gain confidence and eliminate time wastage. You can contact Caroline to request for a Strategy Session and find out how she can help you achieve better personal, professional, or business results.