Setting Healthy Boundaries

I haven’t always been the best when it comes to setting healthy boundaries. It’s definitely something that you learn over time, especially after mistreatment & manipulation. It’s important to be honest & upfront with your expectations. Boundaries set the space between where you end & another person begins. Healthy boundaries involve defining what you will & will not tolerate. It’s clearly communicating what you need, protecting your well-being, standing firm in your needs, & respecting the needs of others.

Here are some examples of setting healthy boundaries:

  • “When you bail on our plans without giving me a timely & considerate heads up, I feel like you don’t respect me or my time. I can understand when you lose track of time, get caught up, & need to reschedule. But not replying to me for three hours is unacceptable behavior that I will not tolerate again in the future.”
  • “Please do not go through my personal belongings. I have nothing to hide from you. When you invade my personal space, I feel like you don’t trust me & think that I’m hiding something from you. Can we please talk about why you feel this way? I don’t want you to do this again in the future.”
  • “I do not appreciate when you make comments about my weight. I have body dysmorphia, & I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Even when I’m underweight according to my BMI, what I see in the mirror always looks exactly the same. I appreciate your concern about my health. But I am very self-aware & taking care of my body to the best of my ability.”
  • “I don’t want to go to the party tonight. I’m mentally exhausted from work, & I don’t want to ruin the vibe if you force me to go. I promise to attend the next social event with you. This way, I can be more social & good company.”

Don’t think that your boundaries always have to be negative as well. You can also set boundaries to encourage the behaviors that you want to receive more often.

Here are some examples of setting healthy boundaries in a way that encourages the positive reinforcement of good behaviors:

  • “When you text me Good Morning, Goodnight, or simply check in with me regarding my well-being, I feel so special. I appreciate that you care so much & are always thinking about me.”
  • “When you kiss my forehead, I feel so cherished & precious. Thank you for showing me how much you love me through the smallest gestures.”
  • “When you go more than 48 hours without reaching out when you’re away, I worry about your safety & well-being. I want you to have fun & enjoy the time you have with your friends/family. But please let me know that you’re safe when you get a free moment because I want you to come back home to me.”

A good rule of thumb is to use the formula: “When you do X, I feel Y + solution for the future”. When you have strong boundaries, you learn how to always respect yourself & how to respect others. When your needs are consistently met, you’re more assertive & less likely to be angry or resentful towards others. Settings healthy boundaries are important for all the different types of relationships that you have in your lifetime, both professional & personal.

XO Denise

Exploring your Shadow Self

While teaching myself how to read Tarot cards in November, I came across a Pinterest post about shadow cards. The shadow card is the card at the bottom of your deck & represents your innermost hopes & fears. This is why I always include the shadow card in my Tarot Card of the Day Instagram posts. Psychologically, our shadow is a catchall term for our dark behaviors that others & sometimes we are not even aware of in ourselves. Inspired by the shadow card of my Tarot card readings, I finally started my shadow work to face my fears & inner demons in December.

For a very long time, I was comfortable being labeled as a “Mean Girl”. I didn’t care if I came off as a bitch, & I always rationalized my bad behaviors. I would tell myself things like “It’s fine because they’re stupid & don’t even know what they’re talking about.” or “They’re just jealous of me, because I’m prettier & have everything that they wish they had.” My mean girl past is probably why I always relate to villains more often than heroes in my favorite movies. I also seem to only attract people with similarly shameful pasts. Your shadow will be comprised of negative human emotions & impulses like rage, envy, greed, selfishness, desire, lust, & striving for power. Exploring my shadow was a very scary & painful process, but I’m proud to say that I’ve come out on the other side feeling more authentic, creative, & spiritually enlightened.

Here are three ways I successfully started exploring & healing my shadow self:

Explore your emotions & your emotional triggers

I was bullied as a child, so I grew up having a lot of pride. I never wanted to appear weak or as a pushover. My rising sign is also a Leo, so naturally, my goal has always been to present myself to the world as a confident, regal, & fearless leader. The honest truth is that I have a lot of insecurities. I’m afraid of the dark, & I sleep with a nightlight when I’m alone. I’m afraid of making mistakes & failing, so my perfectionism keeps me stagnant at times. And whenever I’m given a new leadership role or project, I usually go through a bout of imposter syndrome. Early in my career, I would challenge authority figures often, especially if I knew I could manipulate them into getting my way. While I’m not proud of my past, I’m proud to say that I’ve become more self-aware of my emotions & when the actions of others trigger me.

Challenge when you feel “good” or “better” than others & ask yourself why

When I was two & a half years old, my younger brother was born. The attention that I received from my mom & my sister was suddenly stripped away from me, because of the new baby. Subsequently, I hated him! For years, I would push my brother when no one was looking, & I would secretly plot how to get rid of him. Because of this, I also grew up loving attention. I loved getting good grades & awards as a child. I loved being on a stage & performing, whether it was dancing, singing, or even playing sports. I honestly still LOVE when others tell me how much they love & look up to me. I love getting likes on my social media, & I love getting recognized for the hard work that I put into all the different facets of my career. I’ve lived the majority of my life seeking attention & validation from other people. With this shadow aspect of my personality finally brought to light, I’m relieved to say that I am no longer a social media influencer. I purged my personal Instagram & switched it from a Business account to a Personal account, & I’m much happier because of it. Now that I’ve finally stopped seeking love & attention from others, I’m humbled to say that I now proactively give love & attention to myself every day.

Identify your enemies & explore the truth behind your hate

When you hate someone, there is usually something about them that exists in your shadow. I disliked one of my managers for being an unfriendly know-it-all. I hated another one of my managers for not being compassionate or understanding. It wasn’t until I became a people manager myself that I discovered my own struggles with pointing out when people needed more knowledge or training & being more compassionate & understanding to the circumstances of others.

While I’m happy about the progress I’ve made so far, I know that I’ll probably need to continue to do my shadow work for the rest of my life. I can now recognize when I don’t like someone that there’s something about them that is also in me that I still need to address & heal. I can now clearly see when a man has bad intentions towards me & still needs to heal. I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect, & my emotions can & will get the best of me at times. But it’s the self-awareness & effort that I want to put into improving myself that matters the most.

XO Denise

Everything Happens for a Reason

I’ve always been interested in different religions. I even took a Psychology of Religion class when I was in college as an elective. For our final paper, we were asked to write an essay about our personal religious upbringing or lack thereof. Since I’ve already covered that in a past blog, I wanted to explore the religious upbringing of one of my classmates instead. For our final paper, we also had the option to give a formal presentation for extra credit. In her family, her parents left religious beliefs up to her & each of her siblings once they turned 10 years old. Unlike my parents, who chose to baptize me as a Catholic, it was incredibly fascinating. While I enjoyed learning about all of the various religious & non-religious beliefs in that class, the one that stuck with me the most has always been Buddhism.

Here are some basics of Buddhism:

  • Buddha was not a god, a prophet, or any kind of supernatural being. He was born, lived & died, as a normal human.
  • The core of the Buddha’s teachings aka “Dharma” — are The Four Noble Truths:
    1. Suffering exists.
    2. Desire is the cause of suffering.
    3. There is freedom from suffering through the Eightfold Path.
    4. The Eightfold Path is the eight ways of living that will help a Buddhist reach nirvana: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration. This way of life will ensure that you “escape” a rebirth filled with karma.

It is through desire & suffering that humans change for the better or worse. When you’re trapped in chasing after your desires, the universe tends to force you to repeat your behavioral patterns & continue to suffer as many times as it takes for you to learn your lesson. With this in mind, I do believe that people can change, but only on their own terms. Once you’ve grown tired of upsetting yourself or breaking your own heart over & over again, you can either let it consume you, or you can rise from the ashes like a phoenix.

We are not the same people that we were a decade ago, physically, emotionally, or mentally. You can possibly even argue that people can change from minute to minute depending on their current mindset. If I wasn’t already Catholic, I truly would have chosen to be a Buddhist. I believe that everything happens for a reason, & it’s up to us to decide what to do with the lesson that it comes with. 

Who knows… maybe I was even a Buddhist in a past life?

XO Denise

Mindfulness for Empaths

Growing up, I always considered myself to be a Jedi with my emotions. The Jedi code value “There is no emotion; there is peace.” has always resonated with me. It wasn’t until my recent birthday that my emotions became increasingly harder & harder to control. If you’re an empath, I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your energy & stay grounded.

After my Annual birthday bubble bath, but before beginning my post-bath self-care routine, I put my Apple music library on shuffle & started to cry continuously with each & every new song. I honestly cried for a good 25 minutes while I struggled to spray leave-in conditioner in my curls & apply lotion to my body. lol After that experience, I became hyper-aware of practicing mindfulness in order to keep my thoughts focused & my emotions under control.

Now that I’ve accepted that I’m an intuitive empath & with the emotions of my collective overwhelming me each day, these are the main habits that I’ve learned & adapted to help me stay grounded:

MEDITATE.

I now meditate twice a day, once as soon as I wake up & again right before bed. Sometimes, I’ll squeeze in a quick 5-minute midday meditation too. And if I wake up in the middle of the night & can’t fall back asleep, I’ll meditate to lull myself back to sleep. Meditation truly helps me clear my mind, keeps me grounded, & releases any emotions that I just can’t shake.

RECITE A MANTRA.

When darkness & hate are sent my way, I close my eyes & repeatedly recite the follow mantra until I calm down: “I reject any false & emotionally draining narratives & release them back into the universe with love.” As an empath, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by emotions & energy that are not yours. It’s important to protect your energy & set mental boundaries as needed. Feel free to create your own mantra based on what you’re feeling in the moment.

LISTEN TO NATURE SOUNDS, LO-FI, CALMING, INSTRUMENTAL, OR MEDITATION MUSIC.

Since that emotional evening on my birthday, I began to become triggered by music with lyrics. When I need to focus during work hours or during an actual workout, these are the types of music that I turn to, to keep my thoughts in a calm state. If I’m riding in a car with others or attending a social event, I also make sure to pack my AirPods, so I can listen to my own music & separate my thoughts from my environment as needed.

CLEAN, DECLUTTER, & DELETE.

This past month, clutter & even the tiniest of messes began to frustrate & irritate me. I’ve always been one to keep my space generally tidy, but when I’m feeling out of sorts, there’s nothing I love more than doing my laundry & deep cleaning everything in my path. It literally feels euphoric & dare I say… orgasmic! I am continuously removing anything in my life that is no longer serving me, whether it’s a person, place, or thing. I’m cleaning out my closet, both literally & figuratively. My phone, my laptops, my iPad, my iCloud… if I don’t need it, I delete it.

SPEND TIME IN NATURE.

I won’t lie. I am very bougie at times. I would much rather stay in a hotel with plumbing than a tent, but I absolutely love the way I feel in nature. Whether it’s the forest or the beach… it all makes me feel so alive, peaceful, & part of something greater.

MOVE YOUR BODY, EAT CLEAN, & DRINK LOTS OF WATER.

I’ve accepted that I’m only ever going to be able to be me in this lifetime. I proactively choose to listen to my body & take care of myself physically & mentally. It’s important to learn that you cannot rely on others to tell you when you’re unhappy & not taking care of yourself. Do what you need to do for your well-being out of self-love every single day!

If you’re a newly awakened empath like me, I feel your pain. It’s really hard to stay grounded sometimes. You may feel paranoid, worried, or sad at the most inopportune moments. I now carry tissues with me at all times, just in case I feel the urge to cry. Find what works best for you though. No two individuals are the exact same, so what may work for me might not work for you. Trust your instincts – you got this!

Are you an empath or just a highly sensitive person? What do you do to stay grounded & mindful every day? Let me know in a comment.

XO Denise

Hang the DJ

*SPOILER ALERT*
If you haven’t seen Black Mirror yet, I highly recommend you stop reading & go watch through Season 4, Episode 4 before reading this blog post.

Black Mirror is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a dystopian science fiction series that I highly recommend. My favorite episodes include “Black Museum” & “Nosedive”, but today I want to discuss “Hang the DJ”. Set in a future, dystopian world, where society has given up on conventional dating, partners are matched at random & told the exact duration of their relationship upfront. 

Just to be clear, in my personal opinion, DATING IS F#CKING HARD. Being thrown into the unknown is scary, but in order to find “The One”, you need the strength & courage to take a leap of faith. While being able to control the outcome of a relationship may seem great in theory, I will never buy into it.

I hate to admit that my dating life has never been perfect. I’ve lead people on & wasted their time knowing that I didn’t want them to be my husband or the father of my children. I’ve chased after people who made it abundantly clear that they weren’t the right man for me. I emotionally cheated on my boyfriend of two years with my TA in college. And my worst mistake of all was not telling the man I fell hardest for how much I truly loved him out of fear of another rejection, only to have my heart broken in the end anyway. 

The episode of “Hang the DJ” teaches us that being in complete control of the outcome of our dating life isn’t any better or less risky than conventional dating. Imagine meeting someone who you feel is your perfect match, only to be told that you’re restricted to a mere 12 hours together. You’re then forced to go your separate ways, to have a bunch of meaningless one night stands or end up stuck in a loveless relationship with someone else that you hate for an entire year.

Yes, the world is full of endless options. But at the end of the day, don’t you know when you’ve already exhausted your options? We need to listen to our hearts. We need to speak our truth & do what we believe will be the best for ourselves, while also taking into consideration the hearts of others. No one deserves to have their heartbroken, especially if we have the ability to be honest & prevent it. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes, & forgive others for theirs. Only then will you learn how to love with authenticity.

A reoccurring theme in “Hang the DJ” is that following their structured system will guarantee you a 99.8% love match. But what happens when you realize that you’d rather rebel against your circumstances? What if 99.8% isn’t good enough for you anymore? What if what will make you truly happy at the end of the day includes taking your chances on that 0.2%?

Even if taking that risk means losing all other options & hurting other people in the process, don’t be afraid to listen to your heart & don’t give up your happy ending because of the system & expectations placed on you by the outside world. Take responsibility for your past relationships to heal your heart. Then embrace your authenticity & risk it all, because we deserve to have 100% when it comes to love.

XO Denise

Rest

I bet you weren’t expecting a blog post from me today, huh?

On Friday, January 8th, I decided to take a social media detox. That day after work, my mental headspace was exhausted. I was working out at my apartment building’s gym when I suddenly needed to meditate. I literally stopped mid-lat pull-down & closed my eyes. I desperately tried to clear my mind & block out all of the negative emotions being thrown my way while listening to lo-fi music.

About 10 minutes later, I felt more at ease again. I then decided to delete all of my social media apps off of my phone, & I vowed to detox through the end of the weekend, which I extended through yesterday. I literally wrote this blog with a rose gold, polka dot, faux diamond pen, in a floral print notebook to be typed up at a later date.

Since starting my new Divination community, xodenisejoyce, my emotions have become so overwhelming. I decided that I needed to disconnect, relax, spend more time outdoors in nature, & take better care of myself both mentally & physically. Social media is already exhausting at times, but having to manage social media channels from nine to six, Monday through Friday in addition to the social media channels for my side endeavors is even more overwhelming. Especially with my collective now sending their energy my way, I needed to better control which emotions were mine & which ones were not.

The last time I had a true, peaceful, time away from screens was last September. Instead of being attached to my phone for the majority of the weekend, I decided to turn off my phone two evenings in a row & found my peace staring at the flames of a blazing campfire, eating perfectly toasted s’mores, surrounded by trees.

Whatever you need to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, do it! Self-care is so important, especially with the state of the world still in a global pandemic. Personally, I take a bubble bath with Epsom salts surrounded by candles. I also love doing a face mask, eating Ferrero Rocher chocolates, & drinking brut rosé. Today, I even went to the beach & watched the sunset over the ocean.

While I still want to be there for my collective, my mental health will always be my #1 priority. With all the progress I made during the first week of the new year with xodenisejoyce, I took my sudden exhaustion as a sign from above that I needed to slow down & take better care of myself, so I don’t burnout.

Hopefully, this is a helpful reminder to any of you who are struggling with self-care in your own life. Even if you need to push aside someone or something else that you love, you deserve to pause & take time for yourself, every now & then too.

XO Denise