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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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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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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Do you know your rights in a relationship?

I see often that my clients aren’t aware of their relationship rights. We never learned about our relationship rights in school and our family may also not serve as a good role-model. If we grew up in a dysfunctional family, we are likely to have learned a misleading perception about love and relationships. I experienced abusive relationships in my childhood. As a result, I had a distorted perception about my relationship rights. I felt insecure and wasn’t able to set healthy boundaries. My lack of knowledge led to major conflicts in my past relationships. I disrespected my rights and my needs. Knowing my relationship rights gave me clarity and helped me take the right direction in my relationships.

Independent of what happened in your childhood, you are an adult now. You should know your rights and claim them.

Here is a list of your relationship rights:

  • You have the right to be the most important person in your life.
  • You have the right to be happy and happier than your partner.
  • You have the right to take care of yourself, no matter what.
  • You have the right to change your mind.
  • You have the right to say no, without further explanation.
  • You have the right to expect honesty from your partner.
  • You have the right to make mistakes.
  • You have the right to your personal space and time needs.
  • You have the right to be uniquely you, without feeling that you are not good enough.
  • You have the right that your needs are equally important as your partner’s needs.
  • You have the right to be treated with respect and kindness.
  • You have the right to receive emotional support.
  • You have the right to express your opinion and to be heard by your partner.
  • You have the right to have your own perspective, even if your partner has a different opinion.
  • You have the right to all your feelings.
  • You have the right to live free from criticism, judgment, accusation and blame.
  • You have the right to encouragement.
  • You have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
  • You have the right to leave your partner.
  • You have the right to be playful and relaxed.
  • You have the right to forgive others and forgive yourself.
  • You have the right to give and receive unconditional love.
  • You have the right to change and grow.
  • You have the right to heal, to let go of fear, shame and guilt and to become whole.
  • You have the right not to be responsible for your partner’s problems, feelings and behaviours.

Sometimes, we don’t dare to claim our rights because our inner child is blocking us. Within ourselves, there is an inner child that doesn’t know what is right or wrong.  Her perception of love and relationships is shaped by her childhood and her past. She repeats these experiences because she is loyal to her past. You childhood was as it was. Your parents gave you what they were able to give you when you were a child. Now you are an adult and it is the time that you learn to take care of this child within yourself and that you teach her the truth about love and relationships. If she receives your love, she stops looking for love in the wrong places. Become a compassionate mother for your inner child and a courageous heroine in claiming your rights. This is an important step you can take today to create a fabulous relationship.

I’d love to hear from you. Just leave your comment below.

Do you want to read more? Check the post What if you always attract the wrong man?

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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Do You Know the Secret for Fulfilling Relationships?

Have you ever wondered what is the greatest secret that leads to fulfilling relationships?

I have asked myself this question about a thousands times until I found the answer: The greatest secret that leads to fulfilling relationships is having self-esteem. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Actually, it wasn’t that simple for me because I never established it as a child but I developed is an adult. I have experienced profound changes in my relationships when I raised my self-esteem, and you can do the same. Read this story:

Many years ago, I was observing people how they talked to one another. I did not dare to join them because of my low self-esteem. I thought that I could not share anything interesting so I stayed distant and silent. In that time, I did not honor my worth and had many negative believes about myself. This limited my life and my way to relate to others. Until I found out that self-esteem was something I could develop and improve by myself. So I started to transform my negative thoughts with persistence and patience. I stopped to focus on my failures, but on what I had learned and I started to acknowledge my positive sides. I stopped wanting to be perfect and started to be kind to myself. Gradually, I began to love and to honor who I was, with my good and bad sides. I changed from a rigid and judging perspective towards myself into a loving and compassionate one.

Raising self-esteem is important for your life. It allows you to experience a higher degree of positive feelings and to have better and more fulfilling relationships with your partner and friends It makes you independent of the approval of others. Let’s face it, the people you love will not always have the same opinion as you have. Not every friend will understand the decisions you make or the things you do. Or people might even judge you that you are wrong. Does it mean that you are wrong? No, you just have different opinions.
Self-esteem also protects you from staying in abusive or unhealthy relationship. It allows you to set healthy boundaries and to say no. Furthermore, it improves your efficiency in achieving your goals.
With a healthy self-esteem you can be who you really are, you can say your opinion and speak your truth and still feel respect and compassion towards others, even if they have a different opinion.
Some people have already developed a healthy self-esteem during their childhood. Others not. I assure you, everyone can develop it. Start your journey today and develop self-esteem by following this advice:

You are unique and wonderful!

I admit, many years of my life I compared myself with other women and always felt horrible. My hair was never as beautiful as theirs, not to mention my figure and my height. I looked into the mirror and felt horrible. Then, I got angry with myself and I decided to stop comparing and focus on what I have. I remembered that my mother always liked my eyes. So I started to like my eyes. Over time, I became more and more content with my exterior image, even though it is not at all perfect. Stop comparing yourself with others! Focus on the features that make you special because that is what you are – unique and special. Look at yourself in a compassionate way. Look into the mirror and tell yourself every morning, I am beautiful, I love me, I am loveable. I know that you are.

Establish a loving and compassionate inner dialog!

I often had a very destructive inner dialog. I told myself sentences like I will never make it, You are not good enough or Others are better than you. With these demotivating words, I made myself feeling bad and did not even try to achieve what I wanted. I observed my inner dialog and consciously changed any negative tendencies. Now I am telling myself things like I will achieve it, I give my best.
Observe your thoughts and transform any negative inner dialog into a positive one. Become your own motivator and start to talk to yourself in a loving and compassionate way.

Concentrate on your learning!

Everyone has made mistakes – at least I have made a lot in my life. The important point is what you have learned from your mistakes. Take two papers. On the first paper, write down the mistakes that are still bothering you. On the second paper, write down everything that you have learned from your mistakes. Now, say, Thank you to the first paper and pull it into pieces, burn it in a safe place or throw it away. Keep the second paper with what you have learned and read it frequently.

Set achievable goals and respect your own rhythm!

When you set yourself goals do not carry it to the excess! Set a realistic time frame for your goals so that you are able to achieve them. Ask yourself when you set your goals, What would be the kindest action towards myself. Get into action to achieve your goals and celebrate each time when you have achieved it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet the timeline. Just set a new date and move on.

Improving self-esteem is a life-long task.
You are work in progress and can enhance yourself and your relationships each day. I invite you to start your journey to improving your self-esteem today. Learn to love and respect yourself, and you will see how your exterior world will change, too. Use the energy of spring to fall in love with the wonderful person you are right now!

I love to read your comments below!

You want to learn more? Read this article about self-worth.

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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4 Easy Ways To Say No

Some time ago, a friend asked me, “You have to come to our karaoke party this Saturday. I miss you.” I hate karaoke parties, and I knew that I would need time to relax. One voice in my head told me, “You are egoistic. You have to be there. Be nice!” The other one said, “I just don’t want to.” In the past, I would have gone to a party where I felt at the wrong place all the time, and I would have felt drained. Now I simply said, “No, I can’t.”

Do you fear to say “no”? Do you want to be nice to others? Do you fear conflicts?
If you struggle with saying “no,” don’t worry, you are not alone. Many times the difficulties exist due to learnings in our childhood. Were you allowed to say “no” as a child? How did your family use it? How did people react to it? As a child, I learned that “no” was a word that I wasn’t allowed to use, and that it might provoke a punishment. As an adult, I feared that the other person would either reject me or explode in a rage of anger, so I had major difficulties to say “no”. Was it good for me to say “yes” even though I should have said “no”? No, it wasn’t. I abandoned myself and lost the focus in my life because I tried to please other people. Furthermore, I made the activities with resentment like a recalcitrant horse because I didn’t enjoy them. Then, I learned to respect my needs and to say no.
The voices of fear and guilt are inappropriate advisors, and they shouldn’t be your motivation to decide what you are doing. There is a difference between doing things because you have to do them or because you want to do them. How often do you do things because you feel obliged to do them? How often do you please others? If you try to please others at the expense of yourself, you are not nice to you at all.

Healthy boundaries are a key for healthy relationships!
If you say “no” to what you don’t want, you respect your boundaries and priorities. You can’t control how the other person will react or how they will feel about it. You can just take care of your needs and priorities. If you start to respect your needs and your boundaries and say “no” when you want to, other people will get to know you in an honest and authentic way. Honesty is the key. Learning to say “no” is a healthy habit that will improve your relationships. Try out different occasions and find a way to say “no” that makes you feel comfortable!

How can you say “no”?
Here are four effective ways that helped me to learn it:

A simple “no” without any explanation is enough.
Say gently and firmly: “No, I can’t.” That’s it. There is no need to be aggressive or angry. You have the right to say “no” and you do not owe the other person an explanation.
“I don’t know yet, I’ll think about it. I’ll let you know tomorrow, next week,… ”
This way helped me when I felt pressured and gave me the time to become aware what I wanted. Use this method with people you have difficulties with or if you do not yet know what you want. Then, tell them your answer. Nobody can oblige you to do something that you do not want to do.
If the other person insists, repeat it.
Especially, if they are not used to it, it is likely that other persons insist on what they want, or they simply ignore your answer. In this case, repeat your answer firmly. Don’t capitulate. You don’t have to explain it, just repeat it.
“No, I can’t but what do you think about… “
Say no, and make a counter proposal that fits with your need. Your friend wants to meet you this weekend and you can’t? Make a proposal for a day when it is convenient for you or propose another activity you prefer. Don’t give in but start to negotiate a solution that fits you both.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel. Start with an option that feels right for you and play with it. See it as an adventure on your journey. Saying “no” and respecting your boundaries will increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will experience a higher degree of contentment because you allow yourself to do what you really want. Live your life in an assertive way, respecting your needs and the needs of others.

Would you like to give it a try?

I love to read your comments below!

Do you want to read more? Check the post Do you know your rights in a relationship?

Copyright © 2014, Natalie Jovanic. All rights reserved.

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