Do You Struggle With Online Dating?

I sat in front of Emma. She was a white-haired lady with a colorful hat and vibrant blue eyes. I wanted her advice. I was ready for a new relationship but completely lost on how to make this happen. I am an extreme introvert. I enjoy my life as a single. I love to go for walks or runs. I love to write. However, these are not necessarily activities where I meet many men. And I was ready for a new relationship. Emma looked at me. She said, online dating in is the way to go. I was skeptical. Online dating? I had never don this before. I hated texting. I hated chatting. I normally love to talk to people in person. I took a deep breath and decided to go out of my comfort zone and give it my best try. How can I judge it if I never gave it a try? I had nothing to lose.

Over the last months, I gave my best try, and I was creative. I used different platforms and read articles on how to use it the best way. I do not know how many hours I spent there looking at the profiles and trying to find a connection. Often, it was impossible. I felt bored. The two phrase description did not really give me any hint or any excitement to talk to the man behind the profile. I got more and more frustrated. I didn’t really find a way to connect with men in a meaningful way. The conversations were superficial, sometimes confusing. If these are the only men out there, I’d rather stay single.

When I evaluated my progress after several months, It was not all negative. I had only one positive experience: I went on a date with one man and we had a good conversation, however, there was no spark. Overall, I had lost interest in looking at any profiles at all. I had a sense that it was just a waste of time.

Was online dating really the right way for me? Did it really feel true to me? My inner voice said clearly no. In many ways, it contradicts my personality. I hate chatting and small talk, and I do not have the time for casual dating. What other options do I have to meet new men? I have met my ex-partners either at work or at some leisure activity I love. This way, I got to know them first before we met on a date. Honestly, I am not in a hurry to meet my partner. I also don’t think that I can force it. I will meet him when the time is right. I am not in my 20’s anymore. I am 44, I know who I am and what I want in a relationship. I need to get to know a man first before I can decide whether he is a good fit for a relationship.

My introvert’s dream would be to meet him on a bench during a walk. However, this is an unlikely option. I definitely will not meet him while sitting at home. Therefore, I decided to become more active because I am committed to making my dream of a relationship a reality. I brainstormed activities I really love that allowed me to meet new people. Important was that I enjoy the activities. I came up with the following list:

  • Volunteering
    I enjoy volunteering, and I am passionate about causes related to animals and helping people. It is also an opportunity to meet new people and the good thing is that we have something in common.
  • Meetup and sports groups
    Meetup and sports groups give me a chance to select groups that fit my interests. While I am not good at small talk, I like groups that encourage deeper conversations. For me, that’s a good way to meet new people and have conversations in a meaningful way. Altogether, I am more likely to meet somebody who has a similar interest here than on an online dating platform.
  • Public transport
    I use public transport to protect the environment. While it is not as comfortable as a car, it gives me the option to meet people. I had some nice conversations on the train.
  • At a coffee shop.
    I now work in a coffee shop. It is better than sitting at home and it is an opportunity to meet people.

Overall, there are a million ways to meet a new partner, and online dating is just one option. Important is to find an option that feels true to you. I have friends who love online dating, and who love to go to bars. I do not. I believe that I will meet my partner when I do what I love. Therefore, I encourage you to check in with yourself to find the best strategy for you. We are all unique so what is suitable for me may not be suitable for you. However, I know that you can find a way to meet new people when you listen to your heart and trust your inner voice.

What activities can you use instead of online dating that feel true to you?

Copyright © 2017, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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One Habit That Will Damage Your Relationship

There is one habit that will damage your relationship. Do you know it? Let me tell you my story:

It was a sunny day in April, eight years ago. I was about to go to our hotel with my colleagues. We have worked all day at the fair, talking to the many visitors at our booth and explaining them our products. I felt drained and was happy to feel the sun on my face and to leave the noise of the exhibition hall behind me.

My phone was ringing. It was my partner. I hadn’t seen him before I left because he had gone for the weekend. Excited to hear from him, I picked up the phone. “You left a rotten mango in the kitchen,” He yelled at me. I felt irritated. It wasn’t the warm welcome I had expected. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. I had left the mango in the kitchen because I had thought he might have liked it. I hadn’t noticed that it was rotten. I took a deep breath and said, I am not sure what happened. It seemed ok when I left. It didn’t stop him. He continued yelling. “And you didn’t clean up the apartment. It’s full of cat’s hair.” His voice was full of contempt. He was right. I had to leave on Sunday morning and didn’t have the time to clean it. I didn’t know what to say, but I felt angry and exhausted. I had tried to do my best to leave the apartment in order before I left. I had a sense that this wouldn’t matter to him what I said. I just stayed silent. He continued yelling. Both of my colleagues looked at me astonished. I felt humiliated and angry. How long will he continue to blame me for everything? I asked myself silently. This game was now going on since a couple of years. It had left me feeling powerless. Three months ago, I had asked him to go to couple’s therapy and he had refused it vehemently. After a while, I just said, I talk to you later. We have to catch the bus now. After I hang up, my colleague asked me, “Does he always talk to you like this? I didn’t know what to say. I felt hopeless and helpless.

That night in the hotel room, I was cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t take the blame anymore. I had taken it long enough. That night, I decided to leave him despite the pain and heartbreak the separation would cause.

One major learning in this relationship was that blame is toxic for a relationship and constant blame damages a relationship. When he blamed me, I felt disconnected from him and I only understood everything I did wrong but I never got a sense what I could do better. My partner never directly communicated his emotions although I could sense his anger and resentment. When I left him, I had a strong sense that I just messed up his life. After our break-up, I started to look for healthy ways to communicate.

Nowadays, I have a no-blame policy for my relationships. And this is mutual. I don’t blame others, but I take care of my emotions and communicate them assertively. I am also curious about what they want me to tell. What are my unmet needs and desires that are hidden in these emotions? This helps me to communicate properly and keep my boundaries intact. If somebody blames me, I ask them to stop, give them empathy and inquire about their feelings and what they really want. This helps me to understand them better. It also gives me a choice – I can decide whether I can give them what they want. In the end, I don’t want to mess up other people’s lives but create something with them that makes their life more beautiful. For me, that’s what relationships are all about.

What is your experience with blame?

 

Copyright © 2017, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Know Your Boundaries?

I felt tense. It was early in the morning. I moved around on my chair to relieve my tension. The trainer gave the instructions for the next exercise. I knew I had to say ‘no.’ What would people say about me? What if I was the only one who didn’t want to do this exercise? I wasn’t sure what would happen. I just knew I had to communicate my boundary.

The day before, I had started another training to become a coach. Full of positive anticipation, I had caught the flight from Barcelona to Belgium. That evening, we had made a new experiment to let go of a limiting belief. We were supposed to scream our new, positive belief as loud as we could. I wasn’t necessarily keen to do this, I don’t like screaming but I didn’t mind to give it a try. I left the exercise feeling weak and full of doubt. It just didn’t feel ok for me. I became aware that I really don’t like screaming and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t know what to do with it and meditated on it to find my truth. The answer was simple – just say no to the next experiment if we had to scream.

The next exercise was even more intense. We were supposed to scream for five minutes at another person who was supposed to sit still. “Who will be the first for this exercise?” The instructor looked at the group of about 40 people full of expectation. She was the wife of the founder of the coaching school – an authority. I took a breath and spoke up, I will not to the exercise. I felt relieved. It was done. She looked at me with disapprovingly and said, Have you considered this thoroughly? If you don’t do it, you will never achieve the goal you have. I didn’t like that she pressured me. I sighed. My inner conflict between my inner voice and my anxious and adapted part started again. My goal was my greatest heart’s desire. I really wanted to accomplish it. My anxious part became afraid. What if the instructor is right? She felt tempted to change. I felt the eyes of the fellow participants staring at me. It would have been so easy and comfortable to say yes and fit in well into the group. But it just didn’t feel true to me. I chose to not give in to the pressure and took a risk. I took a deep breath and said, no, I will not do it. Though I felt like an outsider – I was the only person not doing this exercise, I was relieved. I had resisted being nice and adapted. I had followed my inner voice and respected my boundaries. Two days later, when I sat in the plane home to Barcelona, I felt a new sense of empowerment.

Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy relationships. Unfortunately, many of us have never been taught what they are and how to keep them intact, or, at least, I never had. However, learning to set them improved my relationships and my sense of well-being. Boundaries are personal. They describe what is ok for you and what is not ok for you, or what you are willing to do and not willing to do. They are deeply personal, which means that my boundaries are likely to be different to your boundaries. And that’s perfectly ok. Important is that you become aware of your boundaries, explore and and respect them. Don’t allow other people to override your boundaries. Your boundaries protect yourself from emotional harm. They also protect your dignity. Setting boundaries may not be comfortable, but it is an act of self-love and self-care.

Where are you in your journey to set healthy boundaries?

Copyright © 2017, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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For the brokenhearted…

Then, this poem is for you. I hope that it softly guides you during this challenging time.

To the woman within me

I’ve beaten you up.
I’ve dragged you down.
You did the best you could.

You grew your hair,
Just like you were supposed to be,
And it didn’t work.

You dressed nicely,
Just like you were supposed to be,
And it didn’t work.

You were nice,
Just like you were supposed to be,
And it didn’t work.

You seduced,
Because you didn’t know it better,
And it didn’t work.

You opened your heart and loved,
And it didn’t work.

You were destroyed.
Nothing ever worked.
You were defeated.
You were thrown to the ground.

And then something happened.
In the middle of dying,
You chose to get up again.
Full of dirt and wounded.
You faced the world,
And shared the story of your many defeats.
To give others hope,
To let them know that they are not alone.

And there you stood,
With your knees shaking.

And then she became alive.
The peaceful warrior within me,
Who lives her life with the heart wide open,
Who will never grow her hair again,
Who will never wear high heels again.
Who is loving and nurturing,
Who takes care of herself,
Who shows the world who she truly is.

Now you are a woman,
Not unscarred, but brilliant.

I love you, from the depth of my heart,
I love you more than words can ever express.

You are more than I ever dared to hope for.
You are more than I ever dreamed of.

From now on, we will walk together.
And our future gets bright and brighter.
Thank you for being the woman you are.
You are making a difference.

 

Do you want to read more? Check out my memoir A Brave, True Story.

Copyright © 2016, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Feel Bored in Your Life?

I felt so bored lately. Running again. The same old route. There is nothing new. My runs got shorter and shorter. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run. I tried to motivate myself. Hey, you love to run, you love nature. Why is it so hard to get you out of your chair? It’s not the running. It’s the direction. You are sick and tired of running the same route over and over again. You need a new direction, my inner voice whispered to me. A new direction? But where shall I go? I felt scared and chose to ignore it.

During the next couple of weeks, my fearful voice tried hard to convince me that my current direction is perfect. It’s so convenient. You run through the parks, there are hardly any streets or cars. It is safe. Why bother to change it? And even worse, what if you get lost? What if the new route would be worse than the current route? What if you overestimated your capacity, ran too long and had trouble to go home again? My worst case scenario planning blocked me even more and I sat with my inner conflict for a few weeks. I felt stuck. However, my inner voice continued urging for a change.

Finally, I chose to challenge the voice of fear. I wanted at least to give it a try. Therefore, I allowed my inner voice to guide me and chose a new direction. I didn’t really have a plan where I wanted to go. I just ran without any pressure on how far I would get. I wanted to see how I would feel and enjoy the process. I passed by new streets and explored a new neighborhood. Finally, I entered a different park. There were beautiful, tall trees and I saw squirrels whose white fur on their tails looked like a bridal veil. I also saw different possibilities to vary my route in the future.

On my way home, I run up a hill where I’ve never been before and I saw the sunset from a new perspective. It was the most colorful sunset I have ever seen in Vancouver: Orange and purple clouds covered the sky above downtown and a dark violet glaze covered the mountains of the north shore. I took a breath and enjoyed its beauty. When I came home, I felt happy that I had listened to my inner voice.

Life is about change, yet change is always scary. Fears can be powerful to hold us back, but does it really serve us well? I’ve made many changes in my life, from moving into a new country, leaving my romantic relationship to healing the effects of sexual and emotional violence. I never did them without fear. However, each time I followed my inner voice, it was worth it independent on how much fear I felt.

Today, I invite you to reflect on yourself:

  • Where do you feel bored in your life?
  • What does your fearful voice tell you? How does it keep you stuck?
  • What direction does your inner voice urge you to take?
  • What direction do you choose?

Do you need a change in your relationship? Check out my program “Create Your Vision of a Fabulous Relationship.”

Copyright © 2016, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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What’s your Secret Story about Abuse in Relationships?

One hundred people – therapists, counsellors, social workers and clients – in a room. All is silent. What’s next? They are looking at her. She sits next  to the therapist, her head down. What were the incidents in your relationship with your family?  The therapist asks. Sexual abuse and violence. Her voice breaks. A shocked murmur spreads.
How many years didn’t I dare to look into others people eyes due to the sexual and emotional violence of my past? For how many years did I feel stigmatized due to the generic judgment of being a hopeless case? For how long had I allowed other people’s opinion to define my worthiness? My answer is, for too long.

How about you?

How does this murmur make her feel? I look at her. She shrinks in her seat. You can never overcome the effects of abuse. Poor thing, she’ll never recover. The voice of my colleague – a counsellor – cuts through my thoughts.  I open my mouth, and I want to tell her, it is possible to heal abuse, violence and manipulation. That is my experience. It is my truth. How to find words to express what can’t be described but only experimented? How can I tell a journey my rational mind never understood? How can I invite her to see that without darkness, there is no light, and when there has been a lot of darkness there can be a lot of light?  I search for words. There is nothing. Silence. I shrink in my seat. I feel small and powerless again. I lower my head. I can’t find words.

What is your secret story that makes you lower your head in shame and guilt?

The one I told – I called it A Brave, True Story – is mine. I wrote it for the woman on the chair. It is my intimate message to tell her that she is not alone. And it’s also for you if you feel like her.

Healing is beyond logical explanations. Meaning what? Healing is about becoming whole again. About reclaiming those parts of you that seem to be lost in trauma and pain. A re-connection with your inner child to give her the love she has never received before. There will come this moment, when she is fully awake, full of joy, curiosity, innocence, dignity and intuition. Do you know how innocence feels like? I lost mine when I was three. I didn’t know what it was. Healing is about connecting with invisible energies that are all around you to guide you and to protect you. Healing is about letting go of the invisible protections you have build around your heart and learn to love again.

Telling and owning your story makes the difference between merely surviving or really living. How does this feel? I don’t know what it will feel like for you but for me living means feeling. My image is that living is like a joyous dance to your favorite music, and you move and dance while you feel a sensation of deep joy in your body. Like looking at my cats and seeing their smiles and happiness. Like feeling the heat of the sun on my face, smelling the air after rainfall or seeing the fresh green leaves on the trees.  Simply, it’s a deep gratitude for being alive. A sensation of bliss that feels like exploding balloons filled with a multitude of bright colors. It’s feeling the embrace of a friend.

No, I don’t want to force you to tell your story but I will invite you to take your time, continuously taking small steps towards telling your story with full transparency. Rest assured that, however small, effects will be seen quickly and will empower you to keep moving.

Blame, criticism and judgment – both internal and external – can be powerful to silence your voice forever. And, if you are like me, you’re probably the one who gives yourself the harshest criticism. You perhaps try to adapt, to fit in, to be perfect and fulfill excessive demands about whom, how and what you should be. If you allow this to happen, you pay a price: you can never experience deep connection and true belonging in a relationship. If you try to fit in, you may end up with who you want to be and get some approval however he doesn’t care about you but the illusion you play for him. Deep in your heart, you know that he doesn’t truly care for you.

How can somebody truly love you if you don’t show him who you are – with your strength and weaknesses? How can you belong if you hide behind a mask, deeply afraid that somebody may find out about your secret story?
When I first started to share my story, I struggled with being judged. What will people think about me? Judgment has always been painful for me. My coach told me that I could never make it right for everybody. People may judge it harshly, and the right people will value and appreciate it. That’s where belonging and connection is possible. Belonging isn’t about the amount of people that are part of your life; it’s about having people in your life who truly appreciate you for who you are. It’s about the quality of your connections. The more you can accept yourself, the more you will experience belonging and connection.

That’s why I invite you to read my story and my journey to fully accept my story. It’s not about my greatest success, but my greatest defeat.

How can I ask you to show up if I am not doing it? How can I teach you my truth about relationships if I don’t dare to tell you the truth about where I came from?
Stories have the power to heal because they talk to your subconscious and can guide it gently into a new direction. They give you new pictures and perspectives for your situation you haven’t yet seen. They are like a protective cloak because they allow you to release painful emotions like shame and guilt without ever entering your story. And they show you that you are not alone in your situation. Aren’t we all human? What is so bad about being real? Why should we hide our imperfections and weaknesses when they make us human and our common humanity is our only hope to connect?

I hope that my story empowers you to become whole, to say no to violence and unhealthy relationships, and to live life fully and happy.
I cannot tell you what you’ll experience if you read my story. What I can tell is that it has touched lives – for all kinds of people. Why? Maybe because it tells a deeply human experience in the search of true love and connection. Maybe because it may tell you that our true light is not our success but how we handle our weaknesses and imperfections. Or because I wrote it from my heart and was honest and real, and maybe that’s what we really lack in our modern society.

Why don’t you just take a look at what other people said?

“Uplifting in its core. Inspirational and captivating. It gives you hope that you can overcome pain and anger, and live a happy life.” – A reader

“Very inspiring and brave. Especially for people who tend to do things for others and not listening to their inner voices for what’s about best for themselves.” – Frank

“Engaging, inspiring and optimistic. I can absolutely recommend this book! In fact, it’s about the dark side of life, but written in a very engaging and optimistic way. I couldn’t stop reading it, since I wanted to know how it ends. Life is stronger than fiction!” – A reader

“A Brave, True Story is without a doubt a book of courage. The author bravely shares her personal journey of adversity, healing, love and compassion. This book serves as a true testament to the innate power and willingness of humans to be able to overcome the most traumatic and violent of circumstances. For everyone who have had past experiences that shaped them, this is an inspiring book you ought to read; it will show you how to appreciate adversity and how it can be a driving force to transform it into beauty.” – Eleni

“Natalie’s book is a raw depiction of truth given out in pure grace – a story that shows how coming into this world we have no control over how our journey starts and yet through bravery of heart we can learn to change the story for the rest of our lives. When it comes to childhood trauma, Natalie says it best, it is never too late to have a happy childhood. Insightfully crafted story about survival.” – Catherine

Get A Brave, True Story as paperback or kindle on amazon.com or get the epub version in my webshop.

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5 Wrong Reasons to Say ‘Yes’

Learning to say ‘no’ was one of my greatest obstacles for having a joyful and authentic relationship. My struggle originated from my childhood where I had experienced dysfunctional relationships. As an adult, I repeated these unhealthy patterns in my romantic relationships. I often said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’ and I gave in easily if my partner expressed different needs.

How often do you say ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no’?

Initially, I thought that it was the only way to show my partner that I loved him. However, I paid a price for being nice and submissive: I abandoned myself and lived up to my partner’s expectations. I also felt increasingly resentful towards my partner and myself. The longer the relationship lasted, the more frustrated I became. I lost self-respect and my sense of worthiness and my partner lost respect for me.

Do you experience a similar dynamic in your relationship?

Over the years, I noticed the negative impact of my behavior and decided to change this. I set my intention to become assertive and to be authentic in my responses to my partner’s requests. Achieving this goal wasn’t always easy. There were many voices in my head that motivated me to say ‘yes’ for the wrong reasons. It took me some time to understand the differences between saying a heartfelt ‘yes’ and saying ‘yes’ out of the wrong impulse.

Can you differentiate between a heartfelt ‘yes’ and a ‘yes’ out of a wrong reason?

If we grow up in dysfunctional families, we are likely to have learned a distorted truth about saying ‘no’ and we tend to say ‘yes’ due to the wrong reasons. Saying ‘no’ is often labeled as unloving, so we learn to deny us and put the other person first. This imbalance causes major problems in our relationship. The truth is you’re your needs and your partner’s needs are equally important. Here are five impulses that caused me to say ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no.’

  1. Saying ‘yes’ because I wanted to receive more love.
    My inner child had learned that she would only receive love if she did what people asked her to do. She learned to say ‘yes’ to receive the love and attention she needed. As an adult, I learned to give my inner child the love she needed. I also understood that I can’t influence whether my partner loves me or not, I can just show up as I am and allow him to get to know the authentic me. Do you say ‘yes’ because you want to be loved and accepted?
  2. Saying ‘yes’ because I feared punishment.
    In my original family, there was a constant threat of being punished if I didn’t do what the adults wanted. As an adult, I had to use courage to say ‘no’ despite my fear of punishment because it was deeply rooted in my inner child. Do you say ‘yes’ out of fear of punishment?
  3. Saying ‘yes’ because I wanted to avoid conflicts.
    In my childhood, I experienced conflicts that were perpetuating and unsolvable. As a result, I avoided any type of conflict and gave in immediately if my partner wanted something different. It seemed an impossible task to stand up for my needs and find a solution. The first times that I stood up for myself I did it with shaking knees… but once again, to respect myself I had to learn to go through a conflict and to trust that we would find a solution that fits us both. Do you say ‘yes’ in order to avoid a conflict?
  4. Saying ‘yes’ out of guilt and shame.
    My family relationships were manipulative and based on guilt and shame to keep the family functioning. It took me many years to get completely rid of this dynamic. Guilt and shame are destructive emotions. If we say ‘yes’ based on guilt and shame, we tend to over-give and to deny ourselves by putting other people first. It took me some time to learn to say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’ when I felt guilt or shame. However, it was an important step to fully reclaiming my power. Do you say ‘yes’ out of shame and guilt?
  5. Saying ‘yes’ out of any sense of duty or obligation.
    In my past relationship, I became a perfect cook even though I dislike cooking. I mainly did it because I thought it was my duty as a woman. What do you say ‘yes’ to out of duty and obligation?
    All those times when I said ‘yes’ out of the wrong reasons, I said silently ‘no’ to being me. I also said silently ‘no’ to my power and my joy. I now say a heartfelt ‘yes’ for the joy of giving, and I say ‘no’ whenever my inner voice tells me so.

What experience do you have with saying ‘no’?

I’d love to read your comments.

Copyright © 2016, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Did the Man You Love Leave You?

Well, the man I’ve loved most in my life left me. It happened more than two years ago. He was my best friend and the man I trusted most in my life. The beginning of our romantic relationship was supposed to be the brilliant ending of my memoir A Brave, True Story. Our story became the final chapter and the greatest defeat of my life – at least that was how I felt about it.

Do you feel the same?

Let me tell you how this story continued:

I looked at the screen. An email arrived. Message from Ben – the man I had loved most in my life. He had disappeared without ever calling me after we had become lovers. I couldn’t believe it. Under shock, I opened it. It said, Welcome to Canada! I am glad that you’ve made it. How are you? What do you do? I wasn’t sure what to do, but my intuition told me that I should answer…

A couple of weeks later, we talked to each other on the phone. He said, well, I know that our ending wasn’t the best… His voice sounded hesitant. I sighed. Our break-up had been horribly painful for me. But was it still a defeat? I took a deep breath and looked at my life as it was right now: I lived in the country I loved, I had found wonderful new friends, I did the work I loved, I was happier than ever before, and I was on my way to realizing my greatest dreams. No, our ending hadn’t been good, but it has given me the courage to fully commit to my path and to become the best version of me. Suddenly, the greatest defeat became a different meaning. I replied, Yes, it was painful. But it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have become the woman I always wanted to be. His voice sounded a bit insecure when he responded, They say that’s possible.

Do you want to transform your defeat, too?

Losing him was very painful, and I was in a crisis. I just wanted to run away from the pain. However, the pain can’t heal this way. I decided to transform myself and make the best out of this apparent defeat:

  • Setting an intention to be happy beyond belief.
    It was a moment when I felt down. My friend was the only person in my life I had never expected to lose. But I didn’t want to get stuck in bitterness, I wanted to make a landfall and to become happier than I could ever imagine. I wanted to move beyond any limitations from my family I was still subconsciously holding on to. If I didn’t start now, when would I ever do it? Do you choose to be happy beyond belief? 
  • Trusting and following your inner voice.
    I set down with myself and took an honest look at all areas of my life: What worked well? Where did I feel frustrated? Where was I aligned with my values and my truth? In which areas was I disconnected from myself? I noticed that there were still some relationships where I gave my power away. I asked my inner wisdom: What can I do to change it? Then, I gathered all my courage and took action. I repeated this process over and over again until I felt that I was who I wanted to be. Do you choose to follow your inner voice?
  • Healing your inner child.
    The rejection of my friend connected me deeply with the trauma of feeling unwanted in my family. I took the time to take care of my inner child and to heal her wounds. I allowed the emotions to emerge and released them. Later, I did some rituals to forgive myself and to forgive my friend. What emotions do you want to release?

A crisis is painful, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and to transform your life. My crisis has been a catalyst for positive change in my life. Even though I already had been on a good path before, it gave me the strength to radically love and accept myself. I stopped to give my power to people I deeply loved, and I quit judging myself. I stood up against negative beliefs, worries, and self-doubts, and I allowed myself to show up as I was with all my imperfections. I fully committed to following my path no matter what other people said.

Being who we are and following our path is like peeling an onion, and we may need to release some layers before we get there. However, if we take this effort, we allow us to be happy and to experience true love and belonging. And that’s what we are looking for, aren’t we?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Do you need some advice? Check out my FREE Heal-Your-Heart Clinic.

Copyright © 2015, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Have you lost self-confidence?

Once, I felt like this. I couldn’t put a finger on it. It seemed like my self-confidence and self-esteem has faded away. I felt like a failure, unworthy. I looked at my life, and I couldn’t find a reason for it. I sometimes felt that I was fighting with an invisible enemy. I started to be sick and tired of feeling this way, and I wanted to get out of it. I wanted to feel happy again.

Do you want to feel happy, too?

I took a close look at my life. I did the work I loved. I was happy with the life I led. That wasn’t the cause of it. I dug deeper and looked at my relationships:

  • Who supported my growth?
  • Who supported me in achieving my dreams?
  • Where did I give more than I received?
  • Who were the people who drained me or criticized me?
  • Who shared the same values I had, who didn’t?

I chose to be honest with myself and observed what was happening in my relationships.

I was excited about writing my first book, and I shared the progress I made with my sister. Suddenly, I noticed that she never responded back. I sent her my book cover, and I never heard any appreciative word. I shared my dream to move to Canada, and all she said was that I would never make it. Then, she started to criticize my book. She had never expressed that before. Later, she labeled my spirituality as crazy. It also was the year when my sister’s cat had died. When it had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, I had sent it Reiki. I had told my sister that Reiki wouldn’t save her cat; it would just make his death gentler. At Christmas, she accused me of having killed it. I didn’t know anymore what to say. I decided to give me a time-out and didn’t contact her for a while.

As I’ve shared in my memoir “A Brave, True Story”, I grew up in a family with manipulative relationships. Guilt was one way to hold the family together. My family also denied the existence of any higher power. When I grew older, I chose a different path and started to heal myself. I saw that it was possible to move beyond the conditionings I had received in my childhood and that it was possible to have nurturing and loving relationships. As a child, I had experienced love as something painful, frightening and overwhelming. The more I healed, the more I experienced love as something expansive, supportive and nurturing.

What did you learn in your family? Does it serve you well?

When I had started my business a couple of years ago, I had also wanted to create this type of relationship with my sister, so our relationship had never been easy in the past. I thought that being a role model for her might help her on her journey. I underestimated her loyalty with our family of origin. In my family of origin, all I did was wrong. Healing? That was impossible. Spirituality? That was something for crazy people. Counseling? That was only for the outcasts of society. My sister didn’t want to change anything but stayed in her secure place, and it was easier for her to blame me, judge me or criticize me than to accept that I was just different. She did not often express her negative view, but I subconsciously had taken on her negative perspective on myself. As a result, I had lost self-esteem and self-confidence. Even though I love her, I chose not to have contact with her. If I have to choose, I love myself a little bit more than I love her. I can’t heal her past, nor am I responsible for healing it. That’s her responsibility and whatever choice she takes is true for her. I am only responsible for myself, I am not responsible for the choices of my family and I take choices that feel true for myself. Being with somebody who constantly blames, criticizes or judges me, conflicts with loving myself.

What conflicts with loving yourself?

I gave up on my dream to have a nurturing and loving relationship with her and focused on my life again. In the next months, I observed my inner dialog. It was amazing how often I still heard her voice telling me: “You’ll never make it.” In those moments, I started to dance, put a smile on my face and said, “Of course, I’ll make it. And I’ll make it my way.” And that’s what I did.

What negative inner dialog do you have?

Eight months later, she contacted me because of a heritage. She was sweet and nice as if nothing had ever happened. My inner child had some hope that she might have changed. However, the first time I gave her an answer she didn’t like, she sent me messages full of blame and threats. I answered her that I didn’t want to be treated like that and that I would only communicate with her if she talked to me in a neutral way. She didn’t send a message again. Then, I got a lawyer to manage this. It’s ok to be different.

Where do you choose to be different?

Do you want to read more? I invite you to read my memoir “A Brave, True Story.” Click here and find out more about it.

Copyright © 2015, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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The secret question you need to know to live without regrets…

What would you regret if you never had tried it?

That’s the magical question I found that allows me to live without regrets. Let me tell you this story about how I’ve found it:

About two years ago, I invited a man I liked very much to visit me in Spain. He just became single after a long relationship. I knew him since more than 13 years, and he was one of the few men I had always trusted. Since I am a survivor of sexual abuse, trusting a man wasn’t usual for me. I used to fear men, but with him it was different. He had always meant very much to me. And since he was single, there also was an opportunity that there could be something more between the two of us. I knew that I had to see him again, but I was afraid to fall in love with him and to be rejected by him. With all my doubts and fears, I set down with myself and asked myself, Would I regret it at the end of my life if I hadn’t given it a try? The answer was a clear yes. I would regret it if I didn’t see him again. So, I overcame my fears, and I invited him.

A couple of weeks later, he came to visit me. It was the most beautiful week I ever had with a man. Everything felt right between him and me. It felt fluent and easy. I had never felt so close to a man before. I fell deeply in love with him. But, a couple of weeks after he returned home, he disappeared from my life with an email. He wasn’t ready for a new relationship. It hit me hard. I had never expected that something like this would happen between the two of us, and it was very painful for me. This story became the last chapter of my memoir.

Some months later, I participated in a storytelling workshop and shared this story. Later, another woman said, Thank you for showing me what it means to love a man. I hadn’t seen that before, but she was right. I never had loved a man before as I loved him. I had never opened my heart as much as I had opened it for him. Deep in my defeat, I saw a victory. Isn’t the most important thing in life how much I have opened my heart and that I have truly loved, is it?

With all its pain, this story also meant a turning point in my life. I decided to allow me to be happy, no matter what. I looked at my forgotten dreams, and I asked myself the question again and again, Would I regret it on the day I die if I’d never given it a try?

My greatest dream was to migrate to Canada and grow old there. Many years, I was too scared to do it because there are no guarantees in the process of migration, and it requires to take one step after the other and to have trust and faith. But I also knew that I would regret it if I’d never given it a try.

One year later, I moved to Vancouver, and my story has a new beginning: I now live in a country I love most in the world. Each morning, I see the most beautiful nature I have ever seen in my life, and I have found great friends. I am very grateful for this. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I know that my friend’s rejection was an important first step to making my dream come true and to continue living without regrets.

What would you regret if you never had tried it?

I love to read your comments below.

Copyright © 2015, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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