Beliefs aren’t set in stone. You have the power to choose, change, or reject them. Beliefs become our reality.

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You’ve heard time and time again that nice girls finish last in society.

Society normalizes a plethora of habits that don’t make any sense: debt, foods that make you sick, and only two weeks vacation- ugh.

It becomes discouraging to stand your ground when everyone seems to hold some contempt toward how you show up.

People say nice girls finish last because they think you’re weak, that you live in a place of naivety, and victimhood. I mean, not saying you haven’t been there, but now you’re over it.

You don’t have to stop being a nice girl. You need to clarify your beliefs.

Step away from the chaos, the noise of life. Take time to sit in silence, to really think about what’s important to you.

Being a nice girl is censoring yourself to make sure you come across perfectly lovely, without offending anyone. You want to be liked. You don’t do drama. No arguments, speaking your mind, or clashes. Your signature meme is, positive vibes onlyConflict causes extreme anxiety.

Being nice is based on the thought that if you please others, behave, keep quiet, smile, and nod, then people will accept you.

A belief is having trust, dependence, and confidence in someone or something. Beliefs stem from what you’ve heard about yourself and your world since childhood. This may have come from your environment, learned knowledge, behaviors, past experiences, and imagination.

Beliefs aren’t set in stone. You have the power to choose, change, or reject them. Beliefs become our reality.

When you clarify your beliefs you start to live your life, not other people’s. You start to heal from past trauma. You start to take responsibility for your emotions not everyone else’s. You start to create boundaries.

As a child, you didn’t have much choice about what to believe. Your thought patterns have unconsciously shaped your whole life, until now.

Nice girls have been internally wired to think:

I’m not good enough just the way I am, without doing and giving or being someone else.

Disagreements are unsafe. If I engage in conflict I will get physically, or emotionally hurt.

If I voice my opinions I might get yelled at, shut down, talked-over, shamed, rejected, or have love withdrawn.

I’m responsible for other people’s emotions and making them feel comfortable.

Choosing myself, jealousy, anger, sexual expression, and other emotions I think are negative makes me a lousy person.

The opposite of nice is nasty- someone who is unkind, and unpleasant. You don’t have to become these things to set boundaries.

I guarantee someone’s going through a similar experience, with similar thoughts as you. You’re not alone in your aspirations, fears, and struggles.

Instead of having confidence in what others say and believe, find the courage to create new beliefs about yourself. You’re the best person to decide what you want.

How do you do this? By working on creating new thoughts about yourself.

Take a pause from everyone who has a direct influence on you. Your family, religion, friends, and traditions. Differentiate your beliefs from theirs. You will either strengthen old beliefs or explore new ones.

Get comfortable with feeling dread, shame, or mortified about your bad thoughts. They’re normal. What matters is if you keep them or not.

You were groomed to act perfect but that’s a lie. We are imperfect humans, we are complex, yet still deserving of love. Feeling uncomfortable challenges you and clarifies your values.

I believe I can fly.

Here’s how to create new thoughts:

1. Ask, “What types of beliefs do I want to have?”

Do you like having thoughts that emphasize not being good enough and shame? What ideas would you like to have instead and why? Maybe you want to support concepts about self-love because that’s when you feel your most relaxed and creative.

Sometimes self-affirmations don’t work because at the core you haven’t changed your beliefs.

Affirmations can feel forced. Your beliefs should feel authentic, like a sense of knowing.

Here are some prompts to get to the core of new beliefs.

What ideas did I grow up believing to be true?

Do I still agree with them? Why or why not?

What are some new ideas I want to create about myself? Why is it important?

What happens to my mental and physical health if I keep holding on to negative thoughts about myself?

How has holding on to these concepts kept me safe?

What am I thankful for about being a nice girl?

What happens if I don’t have beliefs that I feel aligned with?

What’s the worst thing that will happen if I don’t agree with the beliefs of my childhood? Am I alright with that? What support do I need?

These questions are the stepping stones to understanding your values.

2. Download your emotions, check for viruses

Trying to sort through emotions can be overwhelming. There’s no rush.

You’re processing other people’s feelings and have a hard time sorting through your own. Download an emotions list to explore exactly how you feel. Expanding your emotional range can give more insight into behavioral patterns and triggers. Journaling is a practical exercise to work through this.

You may need to practice expressing how you feel because for so long your emotions have been shut down and invalidated. People pooh-pooh you for speaking too soft or being too emotional. Understanding your emotions gives you better identification about who or what pushes you over the edge.

3. Well this is uncomfortable… and I love it.

Expose yourself to small doses of being uncomfortable. Expect this to happen, you haven’t built up a resilience to emotional pain. Processing emotion is about:

Allowing yourself to feel all emotions, not just the good ones.

Creating compassion by saying phrases like, “I’m still learning, silly me!” or “I overreacted,” creating a lighter attitude about relapses instead of beating yourself up.

Not taking it personally. Emotions are like your period. They’re expected. Sometimes they come easy, other times they’re a pain in your side; they’re messy.

Acknowledge that you have a nice side and a dark side, you need both.

Exposing yourself to discomfort allows you to differentiate between unease about things you don’t value versus unease about things you value but aren’t used to, like expressing thoughts, opinions, or boundaries.

Project your voice, hold your head up, speak your piece.

Another new normal.

Once you gain clarity about your beliefs set boundaries around them.

The old nice girl believed that she wasn’t good enough. She let her partners call her rude names, speak down to her, even hit her because she thought it was her fault. She thought she couldn’t do better. She didn’t have enough examples of what safe people looked like.

The new nice girl vocalizes her stance. She says, “If this doesn’t stop I’m leaving.” More importantly, she believes that she can find love in a million other places.She makes it her priority to love herself first then surrounds herself with people who treat her with respect.

The nice girl with clarified beliefs thinks:

I can accept or reject the thoughts that come my way. I choose to believe positive thoughts about myself.

I make decisions that support my best mental, physical and emotional health.

I don’t have to hold on to my childhood beliefs. I may be met with resistance, especially from my family, but I’m able to stand it.

She treats others with respect and kindness but she doesn’t allow herself to be belittled or used until she is burnt out.

She sorts through and manages her emotions effectively. This helps her reduce stress, empathize with others, communicate better, and resolve conflicts.

She is self-aware.

She uses the tools at her disposal such as journaling, healing through creative dance, writing, drawing, and music. She listens to her body and takes rest when necessary.

Final Thoughts.

You don’t have to stop being a nice girl you need to clarify your beliefs so you can live your life, not someone else’s. This means you can share your gifts, talent, and authenticity with others. This means you are no longer taking on the emotions of others but managing your own.

You can design the life you want.

Arlene

Originally published on Medium

Sometimes the strongest version is also the darkest. When you’re aware of both you become empowered.

I said what I said.

It’s okay to ooze confidence. It’s okay to stop smiling when you don’t feel like it, stop laughing at those uncomfortable jokes. Look them up and down, hold your head up, and strut away. Your side-eye alone should say, you wouldn’t dare.

You’ve got to reach into your “I could never do that” audacity and let her fight for you.

Look in the mirror and shatter everything you’re pretending to be. Unleash the over-the-top, picky, judgmental, arrogant, delusional, type A, passionate, vulnerable woman you’re ashamed of.

It’s not about faking it. You don’t have to stop being nice. Be selective.

The strongest version of yourself puts the priority on your well-being and happiness.

The strongest version of yourself recognizes your value. It surrounds itself with environments, thoughts, and people that support that.

The strongest version of yourself recognizes the way you self sabotage- how your actions don’t line up with your long-term goals. It doesn’t beat itself up. It’s the fight in you.

The dark places in you are where shame hides. Shame is a mix of self-hate, regret, and disgrace. It’s where the emotions you were told are “wrong” live.

Things like hate, jealousy, sexuality, lust, envy, and greed. All of those emotions have a purpose. They let you see different aspects of who you are and what you’re capable of.

You can’t strive to be better if you don’t know the hidden parts of who you are and how you feel.

When you accept the traits you want but ignore the traits you don’t- you fragment. You cause confusion in your mind and body.

Your “negative” traits help you survive. They bring you closer to the life you really want.

Maybe you’re jealous of your friend’s weight loss because deep down you want to be healthy.

It’s the part that, should you become trapped, will claw its way out.

Raise hell.

This is your life we’re talking about.

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.- Matt 10:16

Plan. Be smart, cunning, vigilant. Watch patterns, observe behaviours. Cut threats out. Be everything you’re scared to be.

Being defenseless doesn’t make you good. Being dangerous but using it to make better choices makes you good.

The greatest weapon you will ever have is your choice.

“The only defense against violent, evil people are good people who are more skilled at violence.”- SGT Rory Miller

I’m tired of reading, and hearing about narcissists- people having an inflated sense of self. Let me be the narcissist for a while, heck give me attention. Shit.

I’m not saying this in disregard. I’m recovering from being a perpetual people pleaser. I lived in fear and anxiety. That is until I decided to find my power by being ruthless and fighting for my life- through resilience and building esteem.

The greatest lesson I learned was to take responsibility for my life.

You can’t passively wait to get your life back. You have to take it. You’ve got to stop giving people more power than they deserve. It’s not until they take and take, use and abuse, that you find the strength.

The strongest part of yourself, that darkest part, often comes right after your breaking point.

You need to be your greatest admiration and your most feared enemy. This is the beginning of shadow work.

Your shadow self holds deep-rooted belief systems carried in your conscious awareness. It usually involves childhood memories. Shadow work is exploring this hidden, often thought of as “bad” self.

You don’t need another 5 years of meditation. You don’t need to spend another $10,000 on a retreat.

It’s recognizing that you can take control of your thoughts and emotions.

Start by expressing how you feel,

Start by rejecting feelings of shame about yourself.

If you want to accept all parts of yourself. Read, The gifts of imperfection.

If you want to stop being fragmented, be whole, and stop hating yourself. Read, The dark side of the light chasers.

Takeaway

To find the strongest version of yourself you need to reach into dark places. The dark places help you to discover hidden, subconscious aspects that are preventing you from achieving your goals and fully loving yourself.

Your dark places might encourage you to explore childhood beliefs. To explore stories you heard about yourself that aren’t true.

You don’t have to accept shame around your thoughts and emotions. They’ve helped you survive but you don’t always have to be in fight mode.

It’s only by bringing them to light that you can truly stop being a victim, take control of your life, and decide who you want to be.

~Arlene~

Obsessing about the outcome is our attempt to control and ease anticipated pain.

We fear being happy. What we fear even more is having our happiness taken away.

We live in constant terror of what if, never allowing ourselves to immerse in what is.

We’ve heard the answer to ‘living in the present’ is letting go of attachment, but that sounds like a mystical far-off task. It’s a little easier to let go of our attachment to material possessions, but it’s harder to let go of attachment to people.

Impactful people become part of our energetic makeup. They circulate through our bodies and cycle through our hearts and mind until we let them go. They conflict with, and compliment parts of ourselves. That’s why it feels so gut-wrenching when they’re gone. We feel like a part of us is missing.

Instead of trying vehemently to “live in the present” and “let go”, have the mindset that,

You’re resilient enough to withstand whatever happens to you in the end.

You’re equipped enough to soothe yourself through the circumstances.

And you’re resourceful enough to get more. So live your life.

You’ve felt emotions you thought would kill you. You’ve felt chest pain and little rips in your heart.

You’ve felt the physical symptoms of nausea, vomiting, headaches, and sudden illness.

You’ve been stuck in bed for days, unable to shower, eat, or move.

These are uncomfortable experiences that will pass as you gain the strength to navigate.

Not all happy experiences end in pain, though you may feel painful emotion if you’re attached to it, simply because it has meaning to you.

Our bodies and minds care for us. Everything they do is an attempt to protect us. It’s our job to sort out the real danger from unwarranted fear. Pain gets our attention.

I remember when my brother unknowingly ruptured his kidney during a football game. He kept on playing, but the pain intensified.

He eventually went to the hospital where he had emergency surgery and was admitted, which saved his life.

His soreness warned him that something was wrong.

What’s your pain trying to tell you?

Maybe it’s bringing awareness to something you want. Maybe it’s telling you that you strongly care for a person. Maybe it’s telling you to look deeper at yourself.

Regardless of what lessons our afflictions are trying to teach us, we don’t have to turn it into fear.

We can allow ourselves to step unnerved and fully present in our experiences. This isn’t because we’re naïve to the fact that circumstances may change, but because we can never live if we’re petrified of the outcome.

This is what anxiety looks like. We don’t need more deep breathing and grounding. We know what to do.

We need to believe that we’re not going to die from embarrassment or anxiety, that we’re capable enough to survive the results. We embrace new experiences when we recognize that pain isn’t the enemy and we have tools of combat.

Tools to help your ease pain

It’s easy to list off mindful habits-pray, ground yourself, exercise, get sunshine, eat your veggies, but it always comes down to your perspective, resilience, and mindset.

Our individual processes for achieving this look different, but the theory is the same.

You’re not searching for new information, you’re searching for reminders. You’re searching for stories that are relevant to you.

This is how humans work. We need the same lessons, in different ways, by different people, in different formats, until something clicks.

The tools that help you overcome your pain are habits that aren’t self-destructive (ex. excessive drinking, binge eating), yet motivate you to grow and make you feel good.

I can’t tell you what that looks like for you. I can only direct you toward how to find it. Pay attention to what you’re doing when you feel good, who you’re around, what you’re reading and watching. Do more of those things. It takes stillness, awareness, and conscious effort.

A safe place to start is a hobby that awakens your creativity.

Remember, overcoming discomfort takes time, weeks, months, even years. It’s not linear. You may regress before moving forward. You may stagnate, you’ll take the slowest steps, even drag yourself, but you’ll progress if you’re determined to.

I’d love to know the tools you use to transition through pain.

Start opening your eyes to those that do.

Originally published on Medium- Assemblage