When Anger Kills You…..

Once upon a time I had a boss who owned a multi-million dollar company and worked every day from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (yes, you read that right). All day I witnessed how hard this man worked and how he constantly pushed himself. Although he had millions, it was never enough. What was even more disturbing was his uncontrollable anger. Anything would set him off and what followed was screaming, nasty emails, or simply, the silent treatment. After I quit, I came to learn my former boss had died of a heart attack. I was very saddened, but not surprised.

If you believe that emotions and feelings such as depression, anger, resentment, and bitterness do NOT affect your health, think again. High blood pressure, ulcers, cancer, or any “dis-ease” of the body is a consequence of negative emotions. And negative emotions are consequences of our thoughts.

One of my all-time favorite books is called “Supercoach” by Michael Neill. Neill explains that “every emotion you experience is a direct response to a thought, not to the world around you. The more clearly you see that your emotions are always reactions to your thoughts, not to the world, the easier it is to simply feel them and let them go. And the gift of that insight is that you stop needing to change the world in order to change the way you feel.” We have thousands of thoughts a day. Expecting us to have only positive thoughts everyday is silly. But what do we do when a negative thought presents itself? I like to compare it to a negative, pesky neighbor knocking at your door. You can’t control the neighbor knocking at the door. But rather than just not answering the door, thus allowing the neighbor to leave, we open the door, invite the neighbor in, offer them tea and have a full-blown conversation! In other words, rather than just noticing our negative thoughts, “he doesn’t love me!”, “I will never amount to anything!” or “no one cares”, we entertain our thoughts for a long time, and so the thoughts become stories, the stories become screenplays and next thing you know, we are watching a horror movie in our head. 

 Neill continues by saying, “Your day doesn’t create your mood; your mood creates your day. When your mood is low, the world looks bleak; when your mood is high, you feel as if you can take over the world…The difference is, as always, not in the world, but inside you. And a deeper understanding of how it’s being created will give you a whole lot more options about what to do about it.”

How you start your day is crucial. Personally, I start my days with a long hot bath while reading inspirational and personal development books for one hour. I then pray and get into a positive, relaxed mental state. Then, I have a healthy breakfast and I am ready to start my day from that state. I do not touch my phone or computer until after that. How do I avoid getting into a negative state? First off, I don’t watch the news nor do I watch any form of violence. You might ask, does that really affect us? Absolutely 100% yes! I don’t care if you say it doesn’t, it totally does.  It always baffles me to see parents cover their children’s eyes when a sex scene comes on, but when there is atrocious violence on, they don’t even flinch at their kids watching it.

Lately, I have been working on observing my thoughts more carefully. Neill says, “If you’re feeling bad, that’s like a red light warning you to disengage from whatever toxic thoughts are in your mind. You don’t have to try to stop thinking altogether; just don’t climb on the train and don’t fall for the sense of importance and sudden urgency your thoughts may seem to have.”

 

It wasn’t until much later that I realized it didn’t matter if my boss made 10, 20, or 600 million; the money did not make him any happier. He allowed his emotions and feelings to take over and in the end, the anger killed him. Neill states, “All happiness, well-being, and wisdom come from within. They aren’t the fruit of something you do; they’re the essence of who you are. And there’s nothing you can ask for and be given from the outside that will fill the hole you’ve been digging for yourself on the inside.”

Are you ready to be happy, now?

Sending lots of love & positive energy,

Connie

 

 

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Saving Your Children from a Painful and Traumatizing Divorce

“I take thee, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; and I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.” Or until divorce do us part. With divorce rate being close to 50% in the United States (divorcestatistics.info), these romantic wedding vows seem harder and harder to achieve. Divorce can be amicable and easy-breezy. It can also be extremely challenging, confusing and gut-wrenching. This is especially true when children are involved. However, we are adults, and as adults we make choices. We must face our choices and live with the consequences. When it comes to divorce, our children are not the ones making the choices, and yet, must live with the cost, which more-times-than-not affects them for the rest of their life.

Throughout the years, I have asked several divorcees, psychotherapists, child-experts and lawyers what is the best advice for couples with kids who are getting a divorce and here are the top three:

Don’t bad mouth your ex-spouse to your kids

You are hurt. You are angry. And you might even feel justified for feeling this way.   For example, “she cheated on me” or “he took all my money” or “he was abusive.” Understood. My suggestion is definitely to go and process this with a life-coach, spiritual advisor or to whomever you are drawn. But no matter how “horrible” you believe your ex is, never, ever, ever tell your kids how awful their parent is. Think about it: your children are half you and half your ex. On a psychological level, your kids will grow up believing that half of them is bad and rotten. Besides, they love their parent and the last thing they want to hear you saying are really nasty things about someone they love.

Stop using your kids as tools to get back at your ex. Your kids have feelings and these types of actions affect them for the rest of their life. If your ex is a good parent, then be happy about that and let him/her be a good parent. Being a good parent has nothing to do with being a good partner. Perhaps s/he was awful to you, but that has nothing to do with your child. Treat the relationship between your child and your ex as sacred.

Make the transition as easy as possible for your kids

A teacher of mine once pointed out that prior to divorce kids say, “this is my house.”  After divorce, kids say either “I am going to mom’s house” or “I am going to dad’s house.” Suddenly, they no longer have a house of their own. The most ideal situation I have ever seen was that the kids never moved out of their home; mom and dad would move in and out when it was their turn. Naturally, most are unable to carry out this type of arrangement. The best family law attorney I know is my dearest friend, Araceli Lerma, and she suggests that each parent work on creating the best home environment possible for their children. This does not mean the biggest or most luxurious home, but a loving environment, where meals are cooked together and children have a space, even if it’s a bookshelf or a play area, all for themselves. In that way, they will have two homes that they equally enjoy and in which they thrive.  Whatever you decided to do, please keep this in mind. It really does take a toll on children.

Do not force your children to take sides. You are the one getting divorced, not them. Your children should never have to choose between mommy and daddy. Put yourself in their shoes:  it’s simply not fair. Healer Achaessa James says, “let them know that they can love both of you and that your feelings won’t get hurt.”

Don’t make your children feel guilty about liking their parent’s new partner. So your kid likes their parent’s new partner, be happy about that! Yes, that new partner may even be the one for whom your spouse left you, but that has nothing to do with your child. Your child just wants peace, and quite frankly, deserves peace. They have nothing to do with your battles, so don’t involve them. If your kids want the new partners to be at special events, honor your child’s feelings.

More importantly, if you are the one with the new partner, pay very close attention to the way your new partner interacts with your child. As a life-coach, I have had many clients tell me they were abused both physically and sexually by their step-parent. They are not your child’s parent; they already have a set of parents. I am all for the step-parents providing extra love and attention, but not to act as the disciplinarian. Many parents get so excited that they have found a new partner that they quickly want to “force” the relationship onto their kids. Give your children some space and respect their feelings. Don’t force your child to spend “alone time” with their new step-parent. This is often when my clients suffered the abuse. Finally, if your new partner is nagging you about spending too much time with your child and is asking you to choose between your child and him/her, you should definitely reconsider your choice in partner.

Set an example of love and forgiveness

You say you love your kids, prove it! Actions speak louder than words. Do you want them to be healthy adults? Do you want them to enjoy a healthy loving relationship? Children learn by example. Consider this: Karen’s parents get a divorce. But her parents never fight in front of her, and never bad mouth the other parent. They are amicable and very cordial to one another. Visitations are never an issue; they are both respectful of each other’s time and understand the importance of their child spending time with both parents. Now, let’s look at Jensen’s situation. Jensen’s parents are constantly yelling at each other in front of him. The parents are repeatedly telling Jensen what a loser the other parent is. His parents are always fighting about who gets to spend what weekend with him, holidays are always a nightmare, so he starts to feel like he is in the middle of a tug of war. Now tell me, who do you think will grow up more balanced, stable and with a positive view on relationships? Despite her parents getting a divorce, Karen will see it’s possible to not be in a relationship, but to stay friends.  

The most important issue here is: do you want your children to grow up with love in their hearts or anger and bitterness? Do you want them to be able to forgive quickly, or have so much resentment that they are unable to have long-lasting, healthy relationships? What are we teaching our kids? Consider the long-term effect we are having on our kids. It’s simple: the more unhappy we are as parents, the more unhappy our kids will be. Would you rather be right or happy?

Araceli Lerma’s rules when getting a divorce are simple. She calls them the 3 C’s: common sense, civility and cooperation. Araceli & I will be leading a workshop on this very subject. For more information please contact me.

Are you willing to teach by example?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, International Speaker & Transformational Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

 

 

 

How to Become Successful

“Rich and famous, I AM success!” is a verse from one of my favorite songs called We Run LA by Doc Hollywood. What does it mean to be successful? Does being rich or wealthy automatically make you successful? How does one become successful?

When I first started my coaching practice, I was hardly making any money. It would have been easy to blame all of my financial woes on the economy, destiny, or bad luck (afterall, I was working really hard), but could I have been the culprit  of my own misfortune? I became obsessed with reading books, going to seminars and learning from teachers topics on wealth, money, success, abundance and prosperity. The more I learned and applied the information to my life, the more my life began to change dramatically. Want to know some of the secrets to success?

There is a clear distinction between how successful people behave and think versus those who aren’t. Successful people are positive. No, they are not positive because they are successful; they are successful because they are positive. They do not go around saying things such as “I am just being realistic” since they believe that they create their own reality. The glass is always half full. They draw positive opportunities to them.

Do not talk to negative people about your goals and dreams. How many times do we have a cherished dream and tell our negative friends and family? Quickly, they deflate our dream right before our eyes. But we must take responsibility and realize that we allowed that in the first place. If we know they are going to be negative, there is no need to tell them about our dreams and goals until after we have accomplished them. There is a beautiful quote from the movie, In the Pursuit of Happiness, where Will Smith’s character tells his son “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”

If you have dreams and goals you want to talk about, talk about it with mentors and other successful people. They have already accomplished great things, so they will be able to give you great advice and cheer you on. I don’t care if it’s your own mother. If she’s negative, God bless her, but don’t talk to her about your dreams.

Act in spite of fear – One of my favorite books of all time is Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. Eker says, “Rich people act in spite of fear. Poor people let fear stop them.”

Have positive friends – Do not hang out with the negative nellies. There is a saying in Spanish that says, “dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres” which loosley translates to “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are!” Want to be successful? Hang out with other successful people. Eker says “Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative and unsuccessful people.”

Be great at what you do right now- Are you currently at a job you dislike? Well, start liking it! Yes, you heard me. Find everything that you do like about your current job situation and be grateful that you have a job. Give 110% of yourself to your work and do it with pride. I am not suggesting you stay there forever. Eventually you will leave and start living your true life’s purpose but in the meantime, give it all you got and with a smile.

Giving and receiving– Are you good at receiving compliments? How are you at receiving gifts? Are you a generous person? Life is about finding a perfect balance of giving and receiving. In order to receive, we must give. Eker states, “Rich people are excellent receivers. Poor people are poor receivers.” One of my favorite books on wealth is called Spiritual Economics by Eric Butterworth and in the book Butterworth says “if ever there is a lack of any kind, whether it is a need for employment or for money or for guidance or even for healing, something is blocking the flow. And the most effective remedy: Give!”

 

Eat Healthy Food & Exercise– What does eating healthy have to do with success? Everything. I have never met a truly successful person that eats fast food everyday. Eating healthy is important for your mind, energy, mood and overall health. Buy organic, eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink tons of water, stop drinking sodas, and learn to read labels. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you should not be eating it!

Exercising doesn’t have to be some difficult workout. Walking 20 minutes a day will make a huge difference in your life. There are tons of fun exercises you can discover: yoga, zumba, dance class. Get off the couch and start moving!

Be Organized and Clean – In the extraordinary book Money & Women, Financial Guru Suze Orman says “you might be reading this and thinking that cleanliness is nice but not essential to your financial well-being. I am here to tell you that if this quality is not up front and center and if you do not adhere to it, there is no way you will ever own the power to control your destiny. Wealth will elude you, and you will be left with the mess you created.” 

Commit To Your Priorities– Most of us are running around like chicken with our heads cut off, but have we ever stopped and really evaluated what we do on a day-to-day basis? How much of it is really necessary? What can we permanently cut out of our schedule in order to allow time for things that will get us closer to our goals and dreams? Because truth be told, if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we will always get what we’ve always gotten.

Be In Control of Your Life– Eker also says “Rich people believe ‘I create my life’ poor people believe ‘life happens to me’”.

Be Grateful and Be Happy- The more you are grateful for the things you have in life, the more wonderful things will continue to come your way. Make a list of what you are grateful for and add to it daily. Choose to be happy now. Stop waiting to be happy. If you think that money will bring you happiness, I’ve got news for you; it won’t. If you are an unhappy and ungrateful person, with lots of money you will just become a very rich unhappy and ungrateful person.

Love Yourself and Love Others– The meaning of life is simple: we are here to love. In her class book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says “Love is the essential existential fact. It is our ultimate reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.” Forgive everyone and move on. Get rid of resentment and anger. BE love.

Have Faith- You must cultivate faith in yourself and in God. Start believing more in yourself and in your abilities. Never give-up and know that it’s not that successful people never fail, it’s that they never quit. Act as if your dreams have already come true.

Are you ready to be rich and famous?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

The Joy of Parenting: A Happier YOU, A Happier Child

Happy

Awww the joys of parenting! Don’t we all wish children came with manuals? Life would be so much easier. But they sure don’t, so what do we do? Well, most people don’t do anything. They simply raise their kids however they see fit, usually mirroring the way their parents raised them. Most people take more time researching the perfect car to purchase and don’t bother to research how to raise happy and healthy kids. There is TONS of research out there, but most prefer to play games on Facebook than take the time to educate themselves on perhaps the most significant job they will ever have: parenting.

We never stop learning. I have been taking child development classes since community college and through my Master’s program in Clinical Psychology. Despite that and the fact that my daughter is now 13 years old, I am still learning. By no means do I consider myself a perfect parent, there is no such thing since we are human and have our own issues. However, it is my goal to improve my parenting skills on a daily basis.

Every parent can relate when I say that it can be very stressful when a child misbehaves. Many respond by yelling, punishing, or even spanking. But how effective are these techniques? In his brilliant book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey candidly discusses the mistakes he makes as a parent, “I pull out my ammunition-my superior size, my position of authority- and I yell or intimidate or I threaten or punish. And I win. I stand there, victorious in the middle of the debris of a shattered relationship while my children are outwardly submissive and inwardly rebellious, suppressing feelings that will come out later in uglier ways.” We believe we have won, when in reality we have lost. We are damaging our children and our relationship with them. Dr. Covey continues by saying “It’s easy to take advantage to manipulate, to get what you want the way you want it-right now! You’re bigger, you’re smarter, and you’re right! So why not just tell them what to do? If necessary, yell at them, intimidate them, insist on your way.” According to one of my mentors, Dr. Sarah Larsen, how we act as adults depends on how much love we felt we received as children. We as adults learned our view of the world in those early years of childhood and development. If our needs were met, we learned to trust the world around us and grew from that stability into self-loving and confident individuals. Being yelled at, punished and hit does not promote love; it only promotes violence.

I observe parents on a daily basis. Throughout the years, I have noticed that most children get in trouble for things they cannot help or that is considered normal behavior for their age. One of the most common issues is “sharing”.  Parents get very upset when their children refuse to share and usually punish or yank the object out of the child’s hand. Basic child development explains how being unwilling to share is normal behavior for kids; you simply cannot expect them to even understand the concept of sharing before the age of three. Forcing our children to share is definitely not the answer. As Dr. Covey explains, “It builds weakness in the person forced to acquiesce, stunting the development of independent reasoning, growth, and internal discipline. And finally, it builds weakness in the relationship. Fear replaces cooperation, and both people involved become more arbitrary and defensive.” Understanding where they are coming from goes a long way.  

This does not mean that we should not discipline our children. Dr. Covey says that “to take the child alone, quietly, when the relationship is good and to discuss the teaching or the value seems to have much greater impact.” Explaining to children why certain behaviors are not appropriate is far more effective than getting angry and lashing out. We are our children’s role models. We must remember this at all times. If we become so upset at our children’s behavior that we punish them, hit them or stop talking to them we are teaching our children that we love them conditionally, or in other words, only if they behave the way we want them to. We must set boundaries and discipline our children and at the same time love them throughout the process. Dr. Covey explains “we counsel, we plead, we set limits and consequences. But we love, regardless.” The most important lesson I have learned as a parent has been that all that children really want is unconditional love; to feel heard and accepted for who they are. The more loving I am toward my daughter, the less issues we have. Dr. Covey says that “when we truly love others without condition, without strings, we help them feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity, and integrity. Their natural growth process is encouraged. We make it easier for them to live the laws of life- cooperation, contribution, self-discipline, integrity- and to discover and live true to the highest and best within them.”

According to Dr. Larsen, yelling may be an effective way to vent frustration, but most children see their parents as giants. Have your partner stand on a chair and yell at you so you can experience what it feels like for your child. When Dr. Larsen’s husband, Greg, (who is over six feet tall) stood on a chair at a louder than normal volume, it terrified her. Dr. Larsen says that as a parent she wants to stay connected to her child. If she yells frequently, she will raise children that are anxious or soon learn to tune out what she says. Instead, Dr. Larsen says that when she feels she might begin yelling, she takes a time out in the bathroom to wash her hands or her face. She then comes back and tries to connect with her child and feels what they are experiencing. She shares with them what she needs to in order to stay connected to them in a loving way. Dr. Covey explains the dangers of parents losing their temper: “They become upset, guided by the emotions of the moment, spontaneously reacting to the immediate concern rather than the long-term growth and development of the child. They may yell or scream. They may overreact and punish out of bad temper. They tend to love their children conditionally, making them emotionally dependent or counterdependent and rebellious.” Remember, everything you do to your child today, will affect them in one way or another in the future.

Dr. Larsen says that some other ways in which we disconnect from our children is demanding immediate compliance, nagging, lecturing, advising, shaming, belittling, imposing excessive guilt, physical punishment and coercion. Dr. Sarah Larsen says that ending all forms of violence against children will be the beginning of the end of violence in society. However we treat our child, the child will treat our world. Parents hitting their children has been accepted as discipline in our society and 80% of parents do it. In several decades’ worth of research, we found that it is impossible to discipline children by hitting them. Making children feel worse does not make them behave better. Dr. Daniel F. Whiteside, former Assistant Surgeon General, reported that, “Corporal punishment of children actually interferes with the process of learning and with their optimal development as socially responsible adults.”

Child Psychotherapist, Jorge Gomez, MA says that his number one advice to parents is to never take their child’s behavior personal. Most parents get very upset and feel as if their children are doing something deliberately to upset them.  If we can reframe that and simply see that this is the way our children are communicating their needs to us. It is up to us to teach them how to appropriately communicate with us how they are feeling. Teach them, in a loving way, to use their words “I am upset” or “I am hurt”. The more you teach them as kids how to appropriately communicate their feelings, the more they will know how to appropriately communicate their feelings as adults.

It is no coincidence that the parents that I admire the most are extremely loving parents who never yell, punish or hit their children. In turn, the children are extremely confident, happy, independent, well-behaved and extremely loving children. Dr. Sarah Larsen’s children, for example, are beyond extraordinary and have the sweetest souls. This goes to show that she knows what she is talking about. On the other hand, the angriest and most bitter people I know are frightening as parents. They are always defending their motives as to why it’s necessary to hit, punish and yell. But I see right through that. They are simply unhappy people and unconsciously punishing their children for it.

We want our children to come to us when they need us. We wonder why our teens do not talk to us, but how did we treat them as kids? Did they feel 100% safe with us? Or did we criticize and shame them? Let us be that loving force that guides our kids. As Dr. Covey says, “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem…Rebellion is a knot of the heart, not of the mind.” The best thing you can do for your kids is to work on yourself. Many parents carry a lot of personal anger and they take it out on their children. They claim that they hit their kids to teach them how to behave, when in reality it is simply to let out their frustration. If you find yourself screaming often or getting enraged by your children’s behavior ask yourself this question “is this truly about my kid, or could it be about something else?” Most people lead very stressful lives, but it’s time we stop punishing our children for it. Read books on personal development, attend a Spiritual seminar, get a massage, retreat into nature, get help. Our children need us to be stable, happy and healthy adults. Let’s love them unconditionally, that’s all they really want from us.

Are you ready to truly love?

Stephen Covey Affirmation: “It is deeply satisfying that I respond with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control when my children misbehave.”

 

 Tips for Extraordinary Parenting: by Connie Costa & Dr. Sarah Larsen

-When your children talk to you, make eye contact. Don’t keep your eyes on the TV or your phone. Make them feel that they are more important than anything else. This is crucial for their self-esteem.

-Put aside a minimum of 20 minutes a day and give your child your undivided attention. Do something they like such as color or play with crafts. Make sure that time is sacred and just for your child. No TV and no phone.

-Limit T.V, video games, etc. Go to the park, play with arts and crafts or board games.

-Do not address your children as a bad boy/girl when they misbehave.

-Avoid taking your young children to boring activities such as shopping, appointments, etc. Young children are full of energy and have a short attention span. They will most likely become fussy and might throw tantrums. THIS IS NORMAL and not their fault. 

-Your older children are NOT the parents of their younger siblings. Do not give them that responsibility for it is not theirs. They are your kids. Let your kids be kids and not have to have that responsibility until they have kids of their own.

-Stop the rumor about the terrible two’s or the terrible teenage years. It is not necessarily true. Be positive and give your child the benefit of the doubt.

-When disciplining them, do it privately. Never do it in front of others, especially in front of their friends.

– Remember that every time your child acts in a way you don’t like, it means they have some need they are trying to communicate to you.

– Get curious and try to understand their need. This will help them experience care and trust that they matter, and help both of you find ways to attend to both your needs.

-Make it your goal to have dinner with your child on a daily basis. Turn off the T.V during dinner and encourage your family to have meaningful conversations.

-Tell your child what you want, instead of what you don’t want. Be as specific as possible.

– If they say “No”, try to find out what they need instead of using consequences or rewards. There is always a need that is in the way when a human being says “no”.

-Tell your children you love them everyday. Shower them with love and affection. Point out all of their wonderful qualities every single day.

– Look for a way to meet both your needs, instead of focusing on getting your child to do what you want.

– “Spend time with your children now, one on one. Listen to them; understand them. Look at your home, at school life, at the challenges and the problems they’re facing, through their eyes.” – Dr. Stephen Covey

-MOST IMPORTANTLY: Your children do not learn by what you say, but by what you do. Remember the saying “monkey see, monkey do”. Lead by example.

I love what Dr. Stephen Covey’s wished for his own funeral:

“Now if I were sitting at that funeral…and one of my children was about to speak, I would want his life to represent the victory of teaching, training, and disciplining with love over a period of years rather than the battle scars of quick fix skirmishes. I would want his heart and mind to be filled with the pleasant memories of deep, meaningful times together. I would want him to remember me as a loving father who shared the fun and the pain of growing up. I would want him to remember the times he came to me with his problems and concerns. I would want to have listened and loved and helped. I would want him to know I wasn’t perfect, but I had tried with everything I had. And that perhaps more than anybody in the world, I loved him. The reason I would want those things is because, deep down, I value my children. I love them, I want to help them. I value my role as their father.”

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

The Secret to an Extraordinary Life

“Women who stay in physically abusive relationships like to get hit, otherwise they would leave! Isn’t that right?” Believe it or not, I have been told this several times. When I first was asked this question, I never really knew what to answer, although I knew it did not make sense that women would stay because they “enjoyed” getting hit. The domestic abuse professor in my clinical psychology program didn’t help answer this question either. “We psychologists don’t really know why women take physical abuse. There is no common thread between these ladies. They can be poor, rich, lawyers, waitresses, educated, non-educated. There is no correlation between these ladies”.

Well, my professor and all the other “professionals” who believe this are dead-wrong! There is most definitely a common denominator: lack of self-love. These women (and men, they can get abused as well) lack self-esteem and self-worth, thus believe they deserve to get hit. They also believe that they do not deserve a better relationship and that this is as good as it gets. Plus, abusers are really good at convincing their victims it will never happen again and are great at giving them nice gifts, affection, and know exactly what to say to convince them to stay with them. The victim prefers to remember the “good times” and convinces herself that when it’s good, it’s really good and that she should be “happy.” In her mind, she’s surprised she gets attention so she is grateful to him. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

Abusers can smell their prey from miles away. They can walk into a room and detect the women that can be controlled. You see, when you love yourself you talk different. You walk different. You look at people differently. You dress differently. You sound confident. You stand-up tall. You look at people in the eye. When people say “I’m shy” the translation is “I’m not confident.” Note: if your child is shy, please keep this in mind and explore this with them.

So what to do? The answer is simple: learn to love thyself. Somewhere in childhood, you learned that you were not worthy, and you loved yourself less and less. Perhaps you suffered abuse, or one of your parents left you, or didn’t pay enough attention to you, or perhaps they would make you feel stupid. Your self-esteem went down and you convinced yourself that you are not a lovable person.

Want to find out how much you love yourself? There are several things you can do. One exercise I do with my clients is I have them write ten things they love about themselves in less than one minute. Sounds simple? Well then, try it. Unfortunately, most of my clients write less than five things. Think about that for one moment. In one minute, most cannot write only TEN things they love about themselves. However, if I would tell them to write ten things they love about their child, best friend, or DOG I am sure they would easily come up with ten things (and then some!). I dream of a world where in our schools we have a mandatory class on self-love, just like math or English. Yes, it is that crucial. You see, when you love yourself, truly love yourself, you will never settle for less because you know you DESERVE better. You will have an amazing career, you will not put harmful substances in your body, you will eat healthy, you will surround yourself with positive people, have meaningful relationships, and you will definitely never put up with abuse. You know you are worthy to have an extraordinary life. So that’s another way you can gauge how much you love yourself. I don’t believe loving yourself is black and white, that you either love yourself or you don’t. Rather, I believe that there is a spectrum, and we will all fall somewhere along this spectrum. From “I’m madly in-love with myself” to the other side of the spectrum, “I despise myself”. I don’t know anyone who is completely on one side or the other; most of us fall somewhere within the spectrum. Question is, are you closer to the “I’m madly in-love with myself” or closer to the “I despise myself” end of the spectrum?

To find out, besides the fun exercise I just had you do, you can also answer these questions:

-Where do I work?

-How does my boss treat me?

-How do my peers treat me?

-Do I eat healthy food? Or do I mostly eat junk/fast food?

-Do I respect my body? Or do I disrespect it by using drugs or drinking alcohol?

-Do I have a constant exercise routine?

-What do I do to nourish my soul?

-Does my spouse respect me?

-Do my kids respect me?

-How are the relationships I surround myself with?

-Am I living my life’s purpose?

-Do I participate in any illegal activity?

-Do I always attract drama?

-How do I treat others?

-How do I spend my free time? TV all day? Surfing the Internet all day? Or do I do Yoga,

meditate, hike, and spend quality time with my friends and family?

-Am I happy?

In the book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay puts it very simply “the more you love yourself, the better your life works.” Makes sense to me. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the most important thing you can work on. So, how do you love yourself more? You can start by answering the questions above and start taking baby steps on changing the answers you did not like. Stop participating in the activities that make you love yourself less and start doing what makes you feel better about yourself. Keep a journal. On one side of the page, write everything you are grateful for and on the other side, all your awesome qualities. Pay attention to compliments and add them to your list. Ask your friends and family what it is that they love about you. Add to both lists on a daily basis and read them every morning and every night. This takes discipline! If you are truly going to commit to a better life, then you must commit to this.

Are you ready to have an extraordinary life?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

Forgiving: The Key to Break Free

“I never give people second chances,” I proudly used to say. “Once they cross me, they are dead to me!” I thought I was so cool by stating this. Now I realize there was absolutely nothing cool about such foolishness. I grew up believing that to forgive was to be weak. I thought I was strong by giving people the silent treatment and ignoring them. When I felt hurt by anyone, I made sure they knew. It wasn’t until I started to work on myself and studied with amazing mentors that I realized the only person I was hurting for so many years, was myself. The people who had “hurt” me had probably long forgotten, while I was still ruminating on the experience.

All of us have been deeply hurt at one point or another in our lives. I am sure there are a few people we can think of right away who we are unable to forgive. Perhaps they lied to us, or abused our trust. Or perhaps it was something even more serious such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse. We can justify our anger and give several reasons why this person is “unforgivable.” We believe we can get back at them by “hating” them for life.  They shall never receive our forgiveness. But who is really suffering? In her transformational book, You Can Heal Your Life, author Louise Hay says “being unwilling to forgive is a terrible thing to do to ourselves. Bitterness is like swallowing a teaspoon of poison every day. It accumulates and harms us. It’s impossible to be healthy and free when we keep ourselves bound to the past.”  I know several people very close to me who have the mentality of “I shall never forgive” and constantly bring up all the stories of how they were betrayed or hurt. As they speak of their story, they either get really angry or start crying. They are re-living the situation time and time again. They are stuck in the past and refuse to move on.

Most of us feel that if we forgive people, we are excusing their behavior. This is not the case. What we are really doing is freeing ourselves from the prison we created. It never feels good to be bitter, resentful, angry or vengeful. Best-selling author Marianne Williamson says “holding on to judgment, blame, attack, defense, victimization, and so forth are absolutely attacks on yourself.” We are truly not hurting anyone but ourselves by holding on to our grudges. We believe we are being powerful and strong, but we are actually being very weak. Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. We do it for ourselves to get well and move on. In his amazing book, Love is Letting Go of Fear, Dr. Gerald Jampolsky says “forgiveness does not mean assuming a position of superiority and putting up with or tolerating behavior in another person that we do not like. Forgiveness means correcting our misperception that the other person harmed us.”  Many people do not like to hear this, but nothing anyone ever does to us matters; what matters is how we choose to react to it.  When we are wronged by someone, we have choices. We can decide to learn a powerful lesson, forgive and move on, or we can decide to never forgive and in turn hurt ourselves and drink the poison. The choice is ours. Marianne Williamson continues by saying that “nothing anyone has ever done to you has permanent effects unless you hold on to it permanently.” Rather than upset us, this should makes us feel good. We can break free and let it go. We can start feeling good again and bless those that wronged us.

One of my favorite quotes from Louise Hay is “one of our biggest spiritual lessons is to understand that ‘everyone’ is doing the best they can at any given moment. People can only do so much with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that they have.” Something that really helps me on a day to day basis is that when someone mistreats me, I realize that only someone who is in a great deal of pain could possibly want to hurt another human being. So if someone is rude to me, rather than take it personally, I realize that person is hurting inside. The greater level of violence, the more they are hurting and the more they are in deep pain. Famous Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said “whenever another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.” I know many people in my life who are perceived as not very nice and have all had very tough childhoods. I am not excusing their behavior; I am simply understanding their behavior for my own personal growth.

I am not suggesting this is easy. I have personally battled with “forgiveness” issues all my life. But I do know that I am a much happier person than I was a few years ago. This is because I now (more often than not) choose love over fear.  I am “for-giving” love, not hate. Issues still come up, and I am still challenged, but I know the choice is mine. I am not a victim of circumstances; I create my own reality.

I also want to make it very clear that forgiving someone does not have to be in person, holding hands and singing Kumbaiah. You can write them a letter you never send or you can practice a forgiveness meditation in the comfort of your own home. They never have to know. Remember, this is mainly for you. You will know you have forgiven when you can think of them with no ill feelings and wish them well.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. There is an extraordinary story about a man named Dr. Hew Len, who healed a ward of mentally ill criminals. Dr. Len was assigned to one of the most intense mental hospitals in Hawaii; most of the patients were serious criminals who had committed crimes such as murder or rape. The staff was frightened of the patients since there were constant attacks among the patients and toward the staff. Turnover was very high. Once Dr. Len came on board, he requested the files for each patient and would close himself in his office. He would hardly request to see the patients; he was more interested in seeing their files. Eventually, a few patients became less aggressive. Other patients stopped attacking the staff. Staff started to stick around since the environment was becoming progressively better. Ultimately, most of the patients were cured and discharged. The hospital closed a few years later. So what was Dr. Len’s secret? He would grab each file one at a time, place his hand on the file and say a simple Hawaiian prayer called Ho’oponopono that goes “I love You, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank You.”

Yup, that’s it. That’s all it took. I am going to say it again, never underestimate the power of prayer or the power of forgiveness.

Are you ready to forgive and set yourself free?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com

Your Soul Mate is Waiting

With tears in my eyes, I watched how my fiancé rode away in the Greyhound bus with a one-way ticket destined to Florida. I never saw him again. We had been together for several years and I was positive that he was “the one.” Sadly, a few years earlier, he became addicted to a harmful substance.

I was very young and naïve. I noticed Greg was behaving differently, but I had no idea what was going on with him. Greg’s behavior worsened. He became extremely jealous, paranoid, angry, depressed, and irresponsible. One day, I caught him having a conversation with his television. That’s when I decided that I was no longer going to put myself through that. Many times when a loved one is going through a hard time we desperately want to “save them”. For months, I tried to “save Greg”, but all in vain. I then realized that I could not save Greg; Greg had to save himself. Today I know the most important reason why I did not stay in the relationship: I love and respect myself. I did not want to stay in a toxic relationship, and I knew I deserved better.

How many times do we stay in a relationship that no longer serves us (or our partners)? We either stay because we hope they will change, feel bad for them, prefer feeling comfortable, or are afraid we will not find a better relationship. We fear the unknown and prefer to be miserable because at least we know what to expect. My Sicilian cousin, Gianni, was in a relationship for over 12 years, and for most of those years it had been an extremely toxic and unhealthy relationship. When I asked why he did not end it, he would always say he felt bad for her. I explained to Gianni that precisely for that reason it wasn’t fair to her, and that the best thing he could do was to end the relationship so she could move on and find someone who truly wanted to be with her. We are doing a disservice by staying in relationships we know are going nowhere. Gianni was standing in the way of his own happiness. Subconsciously, he believed he did not deserve a healthy relationship and that it was too good to be true. It wasn’t until he opened up to the possibility that perhaps his true soul mate was out there waiting for him and understood that relationships are not meant to be a struggle and full of pain. By the grace of God, I convinced him, and he is now in a healthy, loving relationship and recently got engaged. Gianni cannot thank me enough. His ex-girlfriend is now free to find her soul mate as well, rather than staying with someone who simply pitied her.

Too many people live in what I like to call a “life coma.” It seems as if they are living, but they really aren’t. They are just going through the motions. They are in loveless relationships, but make excuses as to why they should stay. “I am doing it for the kids” is a very popular excuse. Quite frankly, I think the best example we can give to our children is to be in loving, positive relationships even if it’s not mommy with daddy. Our children can sense when we are unhappy, so we are setting the example of sacrifice to our children. In essence, we are saying that you must stay in a relationship even if you are miserable for the sake of the kids.

I expected Greg to eventually return healed, so that we could finally get married. However, life had other plans. Months later, I started dating a lovely man named George, fell in love, and for over 12 years we have been going strong. Had you told me at that train station that Greg was not the one I was meant to marry and that someone else was my soul mate, I would have thought you were insane. I believed it with my heart and soul that he was the one. Now I know the true meaning of love, and I could not have chosen a better partner.

Most people go from one relationship to the next. Their deepest fear is to be alone. They act like monkeys; hanging on to the next branch before they let go of the first branch. I do not recommend this. I believe it is essential to take some time off and reflect on the last relationship. We cannot simply blame our ex-partners for what went wrong. We must see what part we played in the relationship as well. Only then, will we truly grow. Chew on this for a bit: are you always attracting partners that cheat, or lie, or criticize you, or___? Then is it safe to say that you have strong beliefs around these issues. If you are always saying things such as “men are all cheaters” please realize that that is exactly what you are going to attract in your life. Our egos want to prove us right, so we keep attracting the same type of people. This all happens on a subconscious level.  The only way to break the pattern and avoid this from happening is to do the inner work. Stop looking for your other half, you are not broken! And stop saying you need someone to “complete” you. The more you work on yourself the more you will attract an amazing partner. Alan Cohen says, “When you fall in love with yourself, you will be irresistible to everyone else.”

Please do not settle for less. We are all meant to have blissful, loving, and respectful relationships. Here are some fun exercises that will assist you in attracting your soul mate.

  1. First you must believe that your soul mate is out there.
  2. Write a list of your perfect mate’s characteristics, leave nothing out. Write physical and emotional traits. Do you want a partner that supports you in your career? That respects you? That is loyal? Write it all down. Make sure your list is positive and in the present tense, for example, write “my partner is loyal” as opposed to “my partner will never cheat”. This is really important.
  3. Write a list of the type of person you need to be in order to attract such a wonderful partner in your life. If you want a positive partner, then you cannot be a negative person. Like attracts like. Or if you want a partner that leads a healthy lifestyle you cannot be the type of person that eats chips and watches TV all day. Take steps towards becoming a better version of yourself.
  4. Know that you DESERVE to have this partner. Write a list of all your wonderful attributes.
  5. Be happy NOW. Schedule fun things to do such as dinner dates with friends, join a yoga class, read an inspiring book or go on a Spiritual retreat. Do things that nourish your soul. Be grateful for what you have now.

Your soul mate is waiting for you. Are you ready to let them in your life?

Sending you lots of love and positive energy,

Connie

Connie Costa is a Writer, Inspirational Speaker & Life-Coach

She leads transformational events and retreats in Beverly Hills, Ojai & Italy

www.ConnieCosta.comConnie@ConnieCosta.com