bright sky with fluffy clouds

Emotional Intelligence

Even though I identify as a Sith on the Dark Side of the Force, I try to be a Jedi when it comes to controlling my emotions. I am no longer an emotionless robot without feelings, but I still rarely let my emotions affect my behavior or my decisions. As a young professional, I feel that emotional intelligence is far more valuable in the workplace than IQ. It’s not enough to be smart anymore. Emotional intelligence helps you connect with others in the workplace & in your personal life, ultimately helping you maintain a successful work/life balance.

Five years ago, my sister had a “Lunch & Learn” at work discussing emotional intelligence, & it absolutely fascinated & inspired me. Over dinner that night, I couldn’t help but engage my sister further on the topic, hoping to gain more insight. Emotional intelligence is something that I value highly & work toward improving every day. Too often, we bring the emotions at home to work or vice-versa. When an individual isn’t able to control their emotions it can impact their ability to communicate & throw off their work/life balance. Emotions are a key driver of day-to-day behavior, so it’s important to become more self-aware of your feelings & keep them under control.

Being bullied as a child created residual emotions that I still struggle to control as an adult, including depression, fear, & insecurity. I didn’t always have a high EQ, but I hope to continue to improve my EQ throughout my lifetime. Learning to be more self-aware of my emotions allows me to deal with them head-on, despite adversity.

Depression

  • It doesn’t have to be full-blown depression, but simply “feeling down” on most days doesn’t feel good. There will be days when your energy will be lower than normal. You’ll worry too much, feel distracted, & just not feel “up” to doing anything that you normally would enjoy. On my bad days, I just want to stay in bed all day & take lots of naps.

Fear

  • Whether it’s introducing yourself to a stranger or bungee jumping, it’s okay to feel anxious & scared. More often than not, your dreams & desires will scare you. Every important thing you want in life will require you to take a risk at some point or another because the most rewarding entities exist on the other side of fear. 

Insecurity

  • It’s hard to cope when you feel like you’re not meeting the goals & expectations you’ve set out for yourself. No one wants to feel inadequate. Sometimes we feel intimidated by the abilities of others, making us question our self-worth & affecting our self-confidence. 

By being more self-aware, I’m able to recognize my feelings as they occur. Over time, I’ve learned to identify triggers, & I do my best to manage the emotions that they bring forward. I accept my emotions for what they are & try to maintain composure while considering how my irrational behaviors could potentially affect those around me. One impulsive action may feel justified in the moment, but it can also turn into something that you deeply regret later on. 

It’s important to be kind to yourself & stay motivated, despite any setbacks. You have absolutely no control over the actions of others, but you have full control over yourself. I love this saying by Wayne Dyer:

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.

When it comes to dealing with the emotions of others, I choose to be as sensitive, compassionate & understanding as I can. If someone is angry or frustrated, I don’t take what they say or how they act towards me personally. If someone is sad or upset, I listen to everything they want to share & acknowledge how they feel & why they feel that way. 

Rather than passing judgment, I prefer to listen & do my best to fully understand their current dilemma. I empathize, show remorse, & ensure they know that I’ll always support their decisions & be there for them. It’s always been important for me to approach life with a level head. I’m not afraid to take the initiative when needed. I can identify what’s important & make informed decisions. I do my best to connect with everyone around me in a way that nurtures & empowers them.

When it comes to portraying emotional intelligence, be sure to show your support & validate the feelings of others. I only offer advice or help when asked. I do my best to show empathy & remorse, without overstepping boundaries. This helps build rapport, trust, & respect. Don’t define your world in black & white, because there’s grey in every story. Be who you are, but aspire to be better!

XO Denise

i hate nothing about you with red heart light

Love is All You Need

The song Love Is All You Need by The Beatles has helped me get through the darkest times of my life. It’s a timeless classic that I play in my head or sing to my pug, Pogi, when we cuddle. If you’ve never heard it or don’t like this song, I want to invite you to really listen to the lyrics. This song is NOT saying that all you need is “romantic” love the way other songs preach. In life, all you need is love… for yourself, for others, & for the world.

Manifest & Pray with Love

Every morning & every evening, I pray & ask God to bless everyone in the world. In the past, my prayers were only wishes for myself, my family, my friends, & our pets. While manifesting teaches us to focus on what YOU want to manifest into your life, I feel the most fulfilled when my prayers & manifestations come from a place of unconditional love for the highest good of everyone in the world.

Changing my lacking mindset into immense gratitude has changed the way I see the world & my place in it. While I still manifest for myself, I’m more fulfilled when I pray for abundance, healing, good health, & peace for everyone.

Here’s my general prayer checklist:

  • Please bless everyone in the world & help ensure that we are all happy & healthy.
  • For anyone without food or shelter, please grant those who come across them with compassion, generosity, & kindness.
  • Anyone who is suffering from old age or illness, please grant them with the divine grace of healing.
  • For anyone who it is their time to pass, grant healing to their loved ones who are suffering from loss.
  • Please bless all of my enemies & all the enemies of others around the world.
  • For anyone who is sending out hate & darkness, please transmute that energy into love & light. Then send it back to them. May they heal their hearts & minds, become the best possible version of themselves, & find peace in their own life.

Spread Love & Peace

Love is All You Need is about filling your life with love & peace. It was released during the Summer of Love in 1967. If you’re not familiar, it was a social phenomenon that brought together nearly 100,000 hippies, originating in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. It spread up & down the West Coast & across the United States to New York City. With our nation being as divided as ever, I hope to remind us all to learn from our past.

Why restrict love & peace to a single Summer? There was the Second Summer of Love, & San Francisco celebrated the 40th & 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. But still, try to always be a beacon of unconditional love & proactively choose to spread peace to everyone.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Don’t let any differences of opinion cloud your judgment. Don’t start unnecessary arguments, physical fights, or even war. People who are cruel are often suffering beneath the surface because only hurt people choose to hurt people. Instead of acting out of revenge or spite, try to always choose to bless your enemies. Learn from your hate, because we all deserve to live with love in our hearts & minds in peace & harmony.

XO Denise

ancient ornamental wall in temple hall

Your Body is a Temple

Since February, I’ve been slowly decreasing my iPhone, iPad, & MacBook screen time. With my favorite TV show being Black Mirror & after watching The Social Dilemma, I had an epiphany when Lent began. I changed the settings on my iPhone to automatically lock me out of my apps at 10 pm. I now have about two solid hours away from screens before bed. Instead of scrolling, I read a book or write in a notebook or my journal before bedtime. I recently finished reading PS. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. This quote has really stuck with me: “My body is a temple not just any boy gets to worship at. I won’t do any more than I want to do.”

Virginity is Sacred

My mom stayed a virgin until she married my dad. Because of my mother, I thought that I’d wait until I got married too. My mom also got married at 28. It seemed too old, so I thought I’d be married & having sex with my husband by 25. In reality, I was too preoccupied with cheerleading, dance, & getting good grades in school to want to date anyone seriously. I didn’t get my 1st boyfriend until I was 18, after being accepted to the inaugural class at the University of California – Merced.

Even though my 1st two boyfriends pressured me to “give it up”, I did proudly remain a virgin until I was 21. But I will also finally admit that I embarrassingly lost my virginity out of spite & revenge in the end. I dated my second boyfriend for two years. Despite talking about marriage, in the last three months of our relationship, I was no longer worth the wait. He found & started sleeping with my replacement as soon as he broke up with me.

Societal Pressure

Young, heartbroken, & naive… I stopped trusting my own judgment & the morals I lived by. I was influenced by my friends who thought I was crazy for still being a virgin. After enough peer pressure, I decided to sleep with the next guy that gave me attention. While I waited for three dates to lose my virginity, I immediately knew in my heart that I had made a huge mistake. The “three-date rule” was created to allow women to engage in sexual activity without being branded a slut. But looking back, my heart was still healing. I did not know this new boy well enough to be sleeping with him. I just wanted to feed my ego. If I proved I was still desirable, my ex was stupid for dropping me for the 1st girl willing to sleep with him.

It’s a common saying that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone new. But with my personal dating history, it is clearly false. While it’s acceptable to quickly jump back onto the dating apps, my most successful relationship was after giving myself time to heal my heart. I took time to reflect on my past mistakes & get to know my next partner, before being intimate with them.

Swipe Culture

All of the men I meet on dating apps are only single first dates so far. My friends still judge me & label me as a prude. I never kissed a stranger or had a one-night stand, but I have zero regrets about it. I am 34 years old & still single. I’m proud to say that I’ve never settled for love. I’m not lonely, & I haven’t gotten pregnant by someone I don’t see a real future with. If I wanted it, I could have a comfortable life as a trophy wife to a rich man with my own kids already. But I’m waiting for the right man because I intend to only have one husband. Divorce is not, nor will it ever be, an option for me because, to me, love is all or nothing.

Lesson Learned

Due to my very high standards, I went 10 years without openly calling anyone that I dated my boyfriend. When I finally met a man I saw true potential with, I still didn’t refer to him as my boyfriend until several months after we started dating. When we met, we actually spent an entire weekend together, getting to know each other as friends. He asked me out on our first official date about a month later. And ironically, we did sleep together on our first date. But the foundation we already created as friends made me have no regrets about it. I learned so much about him during our first date. And I oddly knew more about his character & who he was in less than a month than I did with any other man I’ve dated. That says a lot considering that my longest relationship was on & off for 6 years.

Here’s how I knew I was right to trust him with my body the night of our first date:

He asks for consent.

While he went in for the first kiss with full force, he still asked if what he was doing was ok. No one else I dated has ever asked me for consent before trying to be physically intimate with me.

He always makes me feel comfortable & safe.

The way he looks at me & my body always made me feel so beautiful & cherished. He always approaches me slowly, touches me carefully, & asks questions to make sure that I’m ok. Your partner should ask or tell you what they want to do before actually doing it.

He never pressures me into doing more than I wanted to do.

We never needed to “spice things up” in the bedroom. In the times he feels he’s pushing my intimate boundaries, he checks in with me afterward. He was always open to learning what I liked & disliked for the future. It’s the way I trust him so much that no matter how we want to explore in the bedroom, I know in my heart he always cares & protects me.

While relationships are usually more passionate in the beginning, I’m pleasantly surprised that our spark never fizzles out. In fact, this past summer, we reached a different level of physical intimacy. We could sip water when we got thirsty, stop to get a snack, crack jokes about things that happened earlier that day, laugh hysterically, bring up any off-topic conversations, & still never miss a beat. It was a different level of intimacy that I didn’t even know existed. And I’ve never achieved it with anyone else since.

He told me his secrets, allowed me to move through my emotions, & never tried to control my reactions.

While we dated, he told me a lot of his secrets. He even told me ones that had the potential to really upset me & give me an opportunity to walk away from him for good. While some may say I’m naive & stupid, I always respect honesty. I love the way he remorsefully reassures me that he’s ok with however I react & decide to do next.

Looking to the Future

I still have close friends & family that are encouraging me to date more to get over my ex & “get under” someone new. But I’m being deliberately thoughtful about dating. I am also currently celibate. I’m proud of myself for taking the past 6 months to heal my heart & love myself first. I am truly happier having taken sex off the table. I’m not rushing to get into another relationship. I’m taking my time to ensure that I really know & get good vibes from the men that I’m connecting with. I already get hundreds of dating app matches & DMs on my social media accounts each week. I’m worth so much more than cheesy pickup lines & corny compliments about my body, eyes, & smile.

I LOVE HARD. I give myself to my partner fully when I truly fall in love. That’s probably why the majority of my exes still lurk me on social media. Whenever I’m newly single, it’s not long before the boys from my past come out of the woodwork, hoping for another shot. Even if I’ve already deleted their phone numbers or unfollowed them on my personal social media accounts. But this time around, I’m trusting my instincts when it comes to love because I deserve only the best. Society claims that we should live without regrets. But if I could go back in time & stop myself from being intimate with the wrong people, I’d do it in a heartbeat. While I can’t get my virginity back, waiting to give myself to the right man is the next best thing. My body is & will always be sacred. It is a privilege to achieve any level of intimacy with me. Because not just anyone deserves to worship at my temple.

XO Denise

green palm tree

Palm Springs

The movie Palm Springs on Hulu was one of my favorite movies that I watched in 2020. If you have access to Hulu, I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. Don’t worry – I promise to not spoil it for anyone. Similar to Groundhog Day & Happy Death Day, the main characters in Palm Springs are in a time loop living the same day over & over again. Recently re-watching Palm Springs brings to light my karmic cycles & my journey to heal, learn my soul lessons, & ultimately release myself from repeating my toxic past.

Karma

Karma in its simplest form is the spiritual law of cause & effect. The two phrases “What goes around comes around.” & “You reap what you sow.” describe it best. Our karmic cycles occur because everything that you do generates karma, whether good or bad. The Wheel of Fortune is another good example. In Tarot, when the Wheel of Fortune is upright, the wheel is turning in your favor. When the Wheel of Fortune is in reverse, your poor decisions are coming back around to haunt you. Hopefully, sharing my past, toxic cycles that I’ve repeated will help bring your own karmic cycles to light. My punishments for bad karma have stayed pretty consistent throughout my life. They usually have to do with driving or car issues.

I will openly admit that I am not the best driver. Even though I got my driving learner’s permit at 16 years old, I was in no rush to get my Driver’s License. In fact, I renewed my permit three times, & I failed my behind-the-wheel driving test three times. Yes, you read that correctly. It took 4 behind-the-wheel tests to get my Driver’s License. lol Anyway, let’s get into the cycles of my karmic past.

My Karmic Cycles

Karmic Cycle 1

I only dated my 1st boyfriend for 3 months. After one week, I didn’t see a future for us, but I continued to date & use him all Summer. I let him tell me that he loved me, buy me presents, & think that we’d be together forever. In the end, I broke up with him via email, because there was no nice way to keep up my charade.

My Karma

For using him & taking his love & kindness for granted all Summer, I failed my behind-the-wheel driving test 3 times.

Karmic Cycle 2

My 1st boyfriend in college shared an email account with me. The Summer before our breakup, he forgot that we shared access to it. After we broke up, I signed into that email address to confirm cancellations of other joint accounts we shared; only to see a long chain of emails between him & his new girlfriend. They had been hanging out behind my back for months. They were co-workers at the gym he worked at over the Summer. It made me sick to my stomach. Because I flew down to visit & spend quality time with him mid-Summer, while they were clearly already romantically involved.

Even though that should have been triggering enough to make me walk away, the following week I continued to log into the email account to read their long-distance emails to each other. I hated that he decided to never tell me that he had been cheating on me all Summer. In those few weeks after school started again, they added each other on MySpace, & I started lurking her MySpace too. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I confronted her in a MySpace message. I learned that he never told her about me, & that was the final straw that made me walk away & let them have each other for good.

My Karma

For invading his privacy & confronting his new girlfriend, I scratched my front bumper when parking too close to a light post.

Karmic Cycle 3

The next guy I dated had an “ex-girlfriend” who created a fake Facebook to lurk me. I brought the issue up to him, & he handled it quickly. But I put “ex-girlfriend” in quotes because I honestly still don’t know if she was actually his ex. He might have just told me that when he was still in fact her long-distance boyfriend. I hate that I chose to keep dating someone who was clearly disrespecting another woman in his life. Just how I acted with my previous ex & his new girlfriend, she was obsessed with finding out more about me.

My Karma

For continuing to date a boy who was sneaky & disrespectful, my car battery died three times that semester.

Karmic Cycle 4

I dated the previous guy’s close friend soon afterward. I didn’t think much of it since neither of them seemed to care. But in an early conversation, he confessed that his female best friend on campus looks exactly like his ex. He even introduced me to her, & I immediately knew that she was in love with him. She had a boyfriend of her own back home though. Instead of paying attention to the red flags, I continued to date him, thinking I could help him heal his heart. I thought that he’ll eventually be so thankful that he’d want to be with me over other options.

My Karma

For dating someone who needed to heal, my best friend crashed her car into mine, as I was rushing to leave a house party to hook up with him. We never hooked up that night or ever again.

Karmic Cycle 5

The next guy I dated on & off during my senior year of college. We became official only a week before I graduated. Because he thought he could trust me, he shared the primary password that he used for all of his accounts. But one day, he left his laptop at my house as he rushed off to class. I am so embarrassed to say that I betrayed his trust. Regretfully, I logged into his laptop & ended up reading his entire AIM history with his ex-girlfriend. I also logged into his Facebook, & read a conversation with his Dad about wanting to break up with me.

The universe allowed me to see these things so that I could walk away with my dignity intact. Invading my boyfriend’s privacy was terrible on my part. He wasn’t respecting me or our relationship by using me to make his ex jealous & want to get back together. I do not recommend that anyone lurk, hack, or betray your partner’s trust the way I did to my boyfriend.

He was the last person that I ever did this to. I learned that if you go looking for the bad in someone, you’ll probably end up finding it. What he told me was him wanting to visit me to “make up” for our horrible Valentine’s Day weekend together was actually him wanting to break up with me in person. Even after waking up late, having his back tires blow out, & having to have his car towed over 90 miles, he was determined to break my heart. That’s why after we broke up & I found out that he was already pursuing someone from his dance crew, I deleted all of his friends from Facebook. I confronted his new love interest via Facebook message too.

My Karma

For invading his privacy, deleting his friends, & confronting his new girlfriend, I had to have my timing belt replaced, all four of my tires replaced, & my struts replaced. It was a ridiculous amount of money that I was not prepared to spend.

Karmic Cycle 6

I used my next boyfriend to get over my previous ex & also make him jealous because my new man was taller, more handsome, & much more fit. This was the boyfriend that quickly ended up becoming obsessed with me. Instead of driving us safely, he was too busy staring at me, trying to kiss my hand, & asking me if I was ok every few minutes. He regularly ran red lights & stop signs, because he needed to “take in my beauty” when all I wanted was for him to watch the road. The worst of it was a car accident that hit my passenger side door, because of his negligence. He was in the military, so he was deployed soon after the accident. While I regret letting our relationship drag on, I didn’t want to break up with him while he was miserable on a ship.

My Karma

For using him, my car ended up getting into a hit & run while it was parked in the street in front of my home.

Karmic Cycle 7

This next guy I didn’t even really date. lol My best friend tried to set me up with her co-worker, & he was cute so I figured why not. After our 1st date, he apparently got the vibe that I just wanted to be friends. But instead of walking away, I desperately tried to change his mind. We went to see a movie together that ended up being super awkward because I kept trying to create chemistry by sitting close to him, putting my head on his shoulder, placing my hand close to his so that he’d want to hold it, etc.

In the end, it was so obvious that there was zero chemistry between us. I then found out that he liked & started dating his co-worker, which my best friend neglected to tell me about, while I was still throwing myself at him. Even knowing that we had no spark, I was in denial & embarrassingly meddled between him & his new girlfriend for months.

My Karma

For trying to force chemistry & meddling, I was rear-ended by another car that ultimately caused a four-car pile-up.

Karmic Cycle 8

This was the return of my ex-boyfriend from Karmic Cycle Number 5. While he apologized for breaking up with me to date someone else, I never admitted that I invaded his privacy, deleted his Facebook friends, or confronted his girlfriend. During these on & off again years, he was talking to several other girls, ghosted me, & reappeared only to be dating his co-worker like nothing was wrong.

My Karma

For never apologizing & telling the truth as well as not walking away when I was being treated as an option, my car was broken into & I completely lost my car keys.

Karmic Cycle 9

The next guy I dated repeated so many of the previous red flags from other karmic cycles. He had an ex who was stalking me. There were also a ton of other options that I would allow to come & go while we were dating. He even fell in love with an engaged woman, who he stayed in contact with after their affair ended. She also even continued to text him after having her husband’s baby. Then, he ultimately got a girlfriend in a different state, even after hooking up with me only one week prior.

My Karma

For ignoring all the red flags from the universe begging me to recognize that he was not my person, my car got towed, & I got 2 nails in one of my back tires. I also had a brand new tire blow out on me because I was emotional & distracted making a left turn too close to the center median. I messed up my front bumper on a pole because I was distracted when reversing out of a parking spot. And lastly, I had an internal brake light error in my car that took over a month to fix.

The dealership didn’t have any loaner vehicles nor did they offer to pay for a rental. I was carless for over a month, but it felt like the entire Summer. Despite my own brother working at the car dealership, zero progress was ever made. No matter how many times they took apart & put my car back together, the brake light just wouldn’t turn off.

Karmic Cycle 10

This next guy I didn’t date either. I met him on a hike with a Social Club that I joined in 2019. We quickly became buddies & started scheduling & coordinating events to see each other regularly. That Summer, I bought a new BMW 330i, & I decided to adopt a pug puppy. He had a pug in the past that he ended up giving away because he traveled too much. He offered to take care of my pug whenever I’d go out of town because he knew that I traveled quite often too. Our conversations suddenly revolved around this idea of a “joint pug custody”.

After we FaceTimed & chose a pug, I suddenly felt like we were going way too fast & our friendship was super odd. I barely knew him enough to want to share a dog with him. To be cautious, I proposed that we hang out outside of our Social Club to which he immediately accused me of using my BMW & my pug to seduce him & make him want to date me. I was so shocked. I denied his accusation & told him that if that’s the type of person he thinks I am, we don’t even need to be friends. As an olive branch, I did let him watch my pug once, but our friendship completely dissipated over time.

My Karma

For ignoring the red flags, the window of my BMW got smashed the day after I bought it. I take it now as a sign from the universe that this guy never had good intentions towards me.

Karmic Cycle 11

I unexpectedly met my next man a few weeks later on a Labor Day camping trip. I only planned to go camping, because the guy from my previous karmic cycle convinced me & my sister to sign up. While I love hiking & spending time in nature, I’m not super outdoorsy. Especially when it comes to freezing overnight in a tent, it’s not my idea of fun. I was dreading seeing him again, but it was too late to cancel. In the end, meeting my next man that weekend made enduring the cold shoulder & snarky comments from my karmic number 10 worth it.

The Good

After we met, I took my time to get to know my new man & embraced creating a solid foundation as friends. We didn’t have a “define the relationship” conversation until three months after we were seeing each other at least once a week. While I was afraid & unsure, I took a leap of faith because his communication & vibes made it easy for me to trust him. We are very honest about what we think about each other & more importantly how we feel about each other. We promised to continue to be honest & strive to do right by one another.

For the majority of our relationship, it was effortlessly magical. We had so many intimate moments together talking about anything & everything. We were constantly laughing, learning & teaching each other new things, sharing our favorite movies & TV shows, trying out new recipes, sending each other funny memes & videos, & creating our own inside jokes. I felt comfortable & safe in his presence, so it was so easy for me to give him his space & respect his privacy. He also spent a lot of quality time with my friends & family. And during my time of the month, he’s understanding & never makes me feel guilty about preferring to be alone while hormonal & moody.

The Bad

Unlike my past karmic cycles, other women never phase me. But the night of his birthday that I was emotionally triggered by two Instagram Stories & a Venmo payment. That night, I had a full-blown panic attack that night because he still had my heart. I picked out the perfect birthday present for him, after a full week of researching online after a deep conversation we had tanning by my rooftop pool. I bought him local hone, for his allergies when I went apple picking with my friends a few days prior. And the night before his birthday, we even texted about his birthday celebration plans. I wished him a happy birthday as soon as I woke up, & I was so excited that he loved his present when it arrived that afternoon.

As I replay the days prior, I was emotionally triggered because I loved him more in our 13 months together than I’ve loved anyone else. Even though I wanted to let my emotions pass & talk to him about it directly, my friend who recently had a bad breakup manipulated me in my emotional state into breaking up with him the next morning. She also encouraged & enabled my ultimate relapse into my previous toxic behaviors of confronting & lurking other women in the days that followed. In the end, I betrayed myself by not listening to my own heart & instincts. I don’t blame anyone else for my mistakes. Even though I’ve forgiven myself for what happened, I still regret my actions that night & in the weeks that followed.

My Karma

While my heart wishes that I ran down the street to fight for him, I know that I love him too much to be selfish. Instead, I continue to push aside my feelings. Mistakes were made because I listened to the opinions of others instead of following my heart. I hate that I ended things without having an honest, open conversation.

Despite thinking about reaching out now, I love him too much to settle with a place in his life as just a friend. For never telling him that I loved him, lurking, confronting other women, & letting him walk away, I got a nail in one of my back tires the morning I was supposed to drive him to the airport. I drove his car to the airport that morning instead, but we discovered that I somehow also got a nail in one of his back tires, when he returned. The battery in my car key also died, which I didn’t even realize was possible.

Ending my Karmic Cycles

I sincerely apologize for my mistakes. But I also forgive myself, & I’m moving on. I’m not proud of my past karmic cycles. But I’m grateful for the soul lessons that I desperately need to learn. I can finally recognize my toxic behaviors & stop myself before I cross a line. I’ve learned too much to make the same immature mistakes in a future relationship.

While I recommend evaluating your own karmic cycles, I hope you’re also able to learn from mine. Don’t be afraid to admit & reflect on your past mistakes. Because it’s the only way to truly change for the better & heal. Do your best to be mindful of your own patterns, stay aware of your toxic behaviors, & release any negative energy. Trust your own instincts & follow your heart. Don’t let the opinions of others cloud your judgment. Like in Palm Springs, it takes courage & a leap of faith to break through your patterns to stop repeating your karmic cycles.

XO Denise

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THEJOYWITHIN

full moon illustration

Being Triggered is Not a Choice

It’s terrifying to feel helpless to your own emotions. No one ever wants to feel dismissed by others. It’s hard to prevent emotional triggers. Having emotional triggers signifies the presence of past trauma that you haven’t healed yet. Don’t let anyone dismiss your feelings, because “you went looking for it”. Even if they or someone else that they know has “had it worse” than you, it does not make your emotions or your past trauma any less valid.

I’m here to tell you that having emotional triggers is not a choice. There are preventative measures you can take to heal. It’s ok to accept that you may never fully be able to control your emotional triggers. There are still times where I suddenly enter a downward emotional spiral into an event from my past. I may wish I could have handled things differently, replaying the trauma over & over again in my head. When you don’t take the time to heal & reflect on your past trauma, it’s only natural to have emotional triggers. As always, I hope that reflecting on my past trauma & emotional triggers will help you make sense of your own so that you can become more self-aware & start your own healing journey.

Here are some of my emotional triggers:

FEELING ABANDONED

The Past Trauma

When my younger brother was born, my mom & sister suddenly started ignoring me. I felt abandoned & unloved at only three years old. While I accept now that it was never their intention to make me feel that way, it’s still traumatic for a three-year-old. A few years later in the third grade, my two best friends chose to not be my friend anymore. I experienced the same trauma of abandonment all over again. I no longer had anyone to play with at recess, nor did they want to come over to my house to play anymore. They never even told me why they didn’t like me anymore. They just up & decided one day that they’d rather play with anyone else but me.

The unhealed trauma that I experienced & forced myself to forget from childhood only made things worse as I grew older. My mom & sister never purposely abandoned or stopped loving me. They were just too wrapped up in the excitement of my brother’s arrival. But when my two best friends abandoned me, it felt way more personal. Because it was an actual choice they made together that I had no control over at only eight years old. I was forced to make new friends with other kids in my class who weren’t even nice to me. But I had little choice in the matter because it was either to have mean friends or no one at all.

How It Still Affects Me

As a young adult, I hate whenever someone ignores my texts or cancels plans at the last minute. Especially if they proceed to publicly send Venmo payments or comment and/or post to social media with others, who I can only assume they chose to communicate & spend time with over me. This gives me full-blown panic attacks. Unlike when I was a child, I trust my own judgment & specifically allow certain individuals into my inner circle. When those close to me ignore & publicly disrespect me, it feels more personal because we’re grown adults, not children. I expect the people I allow in my inner circle to be mature, communicate honestly, & be just as faithful with me as I am with them. Especially when I express my boundaries & communicate how their actions can make me feel, I can’t help but assume that they are purposely choosing to hurt me.

FEELING MANIPULATED

The Past Trauma

I went to a predominately white private Catholic school from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Being one of the only brown girls in my class, I’m an easy target for ridicule. While it was thankfully not every day, the boys in my class made fun of me. It could be my frizzy hair, my huge teeth, the hair on my legs, or simply imitating my laughter or mannerisms in a way to put me under a negative spotlight. Over time, I became shy & socially awkward to prevent myself from doing or saying anything that could potentially make the boys in my class want to make fun of me again. I became too embarrassed to be myself. Rumors & lies were spread about me that made me cry. Secrets that I told my close friends in confidence would get threatened to be revealed if or when I’d ever step out of line.

How It Still Affects Me

I’ve been getting mean YouTube, Instagram, & Twitter comments since I started my YouTube Channel in May 2011. For over a decade, strangers try to publicly bully me into deleting my online presence. I am my most authentic self on my public Social Media platforms. I know that I’m not for everyone, but I can only be me. While I’ve grown a thicker skin, there are still times when the unkind comments still trigger me. Society tries to convince you that words can never hurt you, but insults like “You look nothing like your pictures in real life.” & “Why are you so fat?” can cut deeper into your soul than anyone can visibly see. I’m learning how to love myself & not seek outside validation from others. If I hear enough insulting remarks from strangers or even worse, people who do know & claim to love me, I lose my sense of self-worth.

As an adult, when I feel that someone has misconstrued my intentions to force me to behave or react in a way that is out of character, I can’t help but blame myself & replay my actions over & over again in my mind. While I like to ensure that I surround myself with honest & trustworthy people, when I realize that I’ve been manipulated, it crushes my self-worth & makes me question my own intuition, instincts, & judgment. It’s too late to go back in time & change the circumstances. I’m forced to hate myself & lie in the bed I made surrounded by my mistakes.

Learning from my Emotional Triggers

In the past, friends & family tell me to simply avoid putting myself into situations where I could be triggered, & block out anyone who was being mean. But over time, the best way to deal with my emotional triggers is to keep my heart open, hold my chin & head up high, & always treat others, especially my enemies & haters, with the utmost kindness & respect. I do my best to breathe, take a step back, & think about what is happening & consider why I’m feeling this way before overreacting.

I’m happy to say that now that I can identify my emotional triggers. I’m getting much better at managing my emotions as well as my subsequent actions. By really taking the time to always feel & move through my emotions slowly, I’m able to express how I feel in a way that is healthy & productive. And I take my emotional triggers as a sign of what I still need to heal to prevent it from happening again in the future.

XO Denise

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We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

Last month on March 31st, I came across The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Netflix. As the last day for streaming, I felt compelled to watch it before it disappeared. I read the book back in the day, so I naturally also watched the movie when it came out in the theaters. Don’t worry – there are no spoilers today, but I recommend reading the book or watching the movie if you’re interested. One quote by the author, Stephen Chbosky, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” has always resonated with me. Reflecting on my previous relationships over the past few months has only confirmed that the partners I chose to stay with long-term have always acted as a mirror into my soul & how I felt about myself at that time in my life.

Love in My Teens & Twenties

In my teenage years & my early twenties, I always chose romantic partners who were attractive, but emotionally immature & self-centered. At the time, I had no idea what love entailed. All I needed in a relationship was someone who was just as attractive & popular as I was, obsessed with me, & willing to jump over every hurdle I placed in their way to earn my love & affection. My relationships were one-sided. In my eyes, I deserved someone who was attractive enough to help me climb higher within my social circles or career. I wanted someone to devote themselves to make me happy because I needed validation. I didn’t love myself, so I desperately wanted someone who was willing to always show me my worth by how much money they would spend on me & being willing to drop everything in their own life to cater to my every need.

Love in My Thirties

After nearly a decade of bad romantic decisions, in my early thirties, I finally date guys who are emotionally mature, hilarious, honest, trustworthy, & worthy of my time & attention. After my quarter-life crisis at 26, I finally got my $#!+ together & stayed single for a while, because I knew that I deserved better. I don’t date guys who are obsessed with me, because I no longer need the constant reassurance of their love. I only spend time with men who are well put together, have a great sense of humor, can carry an intelligent conversation, & have their own personal life goals. Now, I proactively choose to only date men that respect the boundaries I set for myself & appreciate my ambition, confidence, intelligence, & entrepreneurial mindset.

I’m happy to say that I know who I am & what I deserve. When a man no longer respects me, I walk away knowing that it’s not about me & my worth anymore. I no longer blame myself for a man’s betrayal & dishonesty, because that’s not a reflection on me. By choosing to hurt me, they’re actually betraying & lying to themself. You can love someone unconditionally, but always walk away when staying with them means sacrificing your self-respect.

Key Takeaways

Take the time to reflect on your past relationships & understand that whenever your romantic partners chose to betray your trust, cheat, flake on plans, lie, or sneak around behind your back, they were really doing it to themself. When your partner doesn’t feel worthy of you, they will show you who they are through their actions. If you’ve been nothing but kind & faithful to them, take their actions as a sign that they think they don’t deserve you. If you choose to stay despite mistreatment, you’re ultimately telling yourself that you “deserve” to be with a terrible person. I’m hoping to be the one who tries to teach you & anyone else who comes across my blog that you do deserve to be loved better.

No matter how long you’ve been with someone; you don’t deserve abuse, betrayal, or manipulation. Do not tolerate abuse & stay with someone because you “love” them. It’s not selfish to love yourself enough to walk away. Only you know who you are & what you truly deserve. Be willing to forgive their mistakes, but be strong enough to protect your heart & give it to someone who will cherish it.

You deserve someone who will be honest with you even when it’s hard. The right partner will love you & defend your honor even when you’re apart. You deserve someone who will reassure you that despite who wants them, they will always only want you. Don’t let anyone other than you dictate what you deserve. This is your life, & you deserve an amazing one surrounded by people with good intentions. So if “we accept the love we think we deserve?”, what do you deserve?

XO Denise