Signing Off With Love.


Hi Friends,

I have an announcement to make. I guess the title kind of gave it away.

I am shutting down the blog – or more specifically my creation of “The Self Love Challenge.” I guess technically the website and my corresponding social media pages will still exist, so if anyone does want to read old posts, they can. But as far as my relationship with The Self Love Challenge – I have to say it has come to an end.

It’s been a tough decision, and while I absolutely love writing it and speaking to some of you and knowing that I have made a difference in some of your lives, it is something I have to do for myself. It’s served it’s purpose and I’m grateful for that season of my life, but it’s time for a new season. A new purpose.

I came to the final decision this morning, but God has placed it on my heart to do this for a few weeks now. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to write about or because of the bullying I’ve experieced most recently or because the community wasn’t taking off like I had hoped it would – my decision is based solely on what God wants for my life – and frankly, right now, this is not what my focus should be on.

I think He has a bigger plan for me. I’m not really sure what exactly it is yet, but I trust in it. And I’m learning that part this obedience as a Christ follower means learning how to surrender all parts of our life to Him, which I really haven’t been. So I think that is where my focus should be right now. Surrendering my life completely and trusting that He will lead me to wherever I need to go – whether it be as a writer, a blogger, an artist, a life coach, or something completely different – the first step begins with me choosing to obey His commands.

I know some of this may not make sense to some of you, especially those who do not call themselves Christian. However, it does not need to make sense to you and I really don’t have to explain it. I’m not saying that to be rude, but I guess this is my personal journey and my deeper reasoning for doing this is something that will have to stay between God and I.

I’m also learning that some thing we are not meant to understand the reason behind why He wants us to let certain things go, but we must do it anyway. Of all the times God has asked me to let something go, I’ve always been hesitant. I’ve always thought that I knew better. That I could keep it going on my own. But He always brought me to the point where I needed to make a decision – whether to continue in my own strength or to surrender and do it His way. He’s a very patient God, and He is always patient with me as I continue to defy Him and try to do it on my own. But just like any parent, He waits until His child eventually realizes their need for Him and gives in.

I’ve had to let go of several things in my life that I really did not want to let go of. But God seems to prune us of the things He knows shouldn’t be in our life, because He knows He has something better for us.

So. With all that said, I do want to thank each and every one of you for following my blog, for engaging with me, and for teaching me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise from this experience.

I know this doesn’t mean that I will quit writing. I will always be writing something. But I think The Self Love Challenge had it’s moment, and now it’s time to move on to the next part of my journey.

I wish you all well. Keep going, friends.

xx

Christina

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Trusting Happiness.

 

I feel like 90% of this blog is based on my own personal issues, but I guess that is how we become the best kinds of teachers, isn’t it? We learn from our own experiences and then go on to teach others so they can lessen their own chance of making mistakes. I try not to make this blog seem like a personal venting zone, but rather somewhere I can share my wisdom learned from these, sometimes trying, experiences. And it is my hope that the knowledge I do pass on is actually beneficial to someone – even just one person out there. That would make my day or my entire life, perhaps.

With that being said, here’s more of what I’m learning.

I’m learning that I find it difficult to trust happiness (or really trust most things in general). I think the wariness was born from years of betrayal and disappointment, sad to say. I’m not saying that because of this I am a permanent cynic or pessimist, but I do tend to lean towards that side of the spectrum.

I don’t want to. Really, I would love to believe the best of everything, but after experiencing years of mistrust, it becomes hard not to be a little cautious when giving your all to something.

Now I really wasn’t aware of this difficulty trusting until more recently. The awareness came to me through prayer. I wouldn’t say I am a fairly new Christian anymore, but when I just started out, I had a difficult time accepting the idea of trusting God with all areas in my life. Being the control freak that I am, I would only allow him to manage the areas which I thought didn’t really need too much of my own input, which was pretty much just my job – since it was mostly unchanging. Everywhere else, I needed to manage it myself so I could have some sense of control. And God wasn’t really having it.

Trying to control all aspects of your life rather than trusting that God has got it covered is not a good start to supposedly trying to form a relationship with Him. It was always taught to me that He cared for my well being and that He would provide what I needed to get through life if only I would just trust His judgment.

But I thought I knew better, like always. I didn’t want things to be outside my control or move in a direction that I wasn’t ready for. So I held on pretty tight and all it did was cause me more worry, more anxiety, and overall more stress.

The reason of why I had so much anxiety and worry over my life was revealed to me through a moment of conversation and prayer and He basically said that it was time for me to learn how to surrender and TRUST in Him that things would be ok, that one way or another, He had it covered.

It’s been quite the journey learning how to do that on its own. I can’t say I’ve got it all down, but I’ve definitely loosened my grip and life has become less frantic.

However now the time has come for another season of learning how to trust – and that is trusting happiness. What I mean by that is trusting that good things can actually happen to me. Because I’ve experienced quite the load of misfortune, I tend to have the “everything is too good to be true” view on life.

If something feels way too happy or seems to be going way too smoothly, I start to feel that same kind of panic. My mind begins to question it. It brings up doubt where no doubts should normally exist. It goes so far as to create thoughts that cause me to assume things that haven’t even really happened. You could say this is truly self-sabotoging behavior.

I react this way as a form of self-protection. My brain doesn’t want to get hurt again, so it puts up these guards when it senses that things are going too well. It tries to convince me that inevitably they will go bad, so I should so I should prepare for it in the best way I can – which most of the time means backing off.

This is no healthy way to live. And it’s even worse because I haven’t been fully aware that I have been prolonging this accidental sabotage of the happy things in my life all this time.

I really began to take notice of this issue more recently in my current relationships. Now my boyfriend is a wonderful man, he’s not perfect, but he really doesn’t give me much reason to panic in the way that I do. As our time being together has increased and I become more deeply attached, I’ve noticed that my mind, every few weeks or so, it decides to try and perform this act of accidental sabotage.

Thoughts will pop up in my head out of the blue sometimes and try to convince me of either backing off, breaking up, or trying to push him to admit something I am trying to assume is true. For example some of the thoughts I have are things like, “did you notice he’s being a little distant? Maybe he doesn’t love you anymore? Maybe he likes someone else? Maybe he’s cheating on you? Maybe you should break up with him because he’s inevitably going to leave you anyway?”

But this isn’t the only area of my life where it has affected me.

With friends – “you shouldn’t really trust her. She’s going to end up judging you or talking bad about you in some way like the others.” Or with career moves – “don’t go after that job, it won’t work out. You’ll probably get fired because you can’t do it.” Or with my life in general – “things are way too happy for you right now. it’s got to be too good to be true. Something bad is going to happen soon. Be prepared.”

How terrible to think this way. To live in this kind of constant state of anxiety and worry. It can drive a person mad, but most importantly, keep someone from living a truly happy life because they are always going to be doubting their happiness – or not trusting that it’s real and that they deserve it.

See, I think that’s where the problem lies at the core. After experiencing so much pain in the past, I think we almost believe this lie that maybe we just don’t deserve good things anymore, that we are almost cursed to always feel pain or that things will inevitably not work out the way we hope. We kind of arm ourselves with this truth (or lie) that we should always be on guard towards everything so that it minimizes our chance of experiencing hurt – and we do this because at least we can stay in control of protecting ourselves from the pain. There’s that control word again.


Trust is always about control. And when we allow ourselves to give up control, that’s when we are finally able to trust. When it comes to trusting happiness, we need to learn to give up that idea that we can control every little thing that happens to us, and just accept what comes – good or bad. And honestly, the bad will come. We will get hurt again. We will be disappointed eventually. It’s inevitable. But this is life.

The other things we need to wrap our brains around is accepting that we are not doomed to a life of hardship. If we continue to believe the lie or the story that we’ve told ourselves for years that we don’t deserve good things in our lives, then good things are rarely going to happen. We attract what we think we deserve. If we believe that we deserve good things, then we will begin to have a more positive outlook on life that allows us to trust in the idea that good things will happen in our life.

We can’t assume that role of the realist who sees the negative in the situation before it sees the potential. Sure, the realist might have a point, that things might possibly go wrong and we might possibly get hurt, but what if it goes the opposite. What if it’s the best thing that ever happened to us? What if we trust in optimism instead and believe that it WILL be the best thing that ever happened to us. Maybe that way we will manifest its success rather than accidentally sabotage it with our cynical assumptions.

I know it’s hard to trust that good things can happen, especially after years of pain. But take that leap of faith. Trust that you at least deserve good things, so you won’t always feel like this is what you deserve so you might as well make the most of it.

I need to stop acting like a cynic myself. I need to start seeing potential instead of seeing warning signs. I need to believe in the best instead of automatically assume the worst. I need to trust that happiness does exist and I do deserve some of it in my life. I think you should too.


The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Make a list of your worries or fears in your life, then decipher whether it is 100% true or whether you are projecting your own personal mistrust onto it and making it appear worse than it is. If it is indeed you, try finding a positive way to see the situation. If it’s a relationship that you are afraid might not end well, try to see the good aspects of it first. The reasons why it will succeed. If it’s a job that you are afraid to go after because of fear, list the reasons why you will succeed instead. Try this with different aspects of your life and see if you can manifest thoughts that project a sense of trust that it will work out, rather than fear.

xx

Christina

P.S.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Instagram at @The.Self.Love.Challenge !

Overcoming Self

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” 

― Francis of Assisi

Can I admit something? I am a selfish human being. Wow. Ok. That is a very hard to admit about one self. Usually, as human beings we don’t like to admit our faults. We instead like to blame others for the reason why we are the way we are. I feel like I’ve slowly, and mostly subconsciously, have led myself to believe this lie that because I have been through so much hurt and pain, that I don’t really owe anybody anything anymore and that it’s perfectly OK to only take care of myself.

I guess I tend to go to extremes with things. Before my whole self love movement I was the biggest people pleaser around. If you needed something, I was there and not necessarily because I really wanted to be there, but because I wanted to earn something from you – like love, respect, or acceptance. So I worked my way into your heart. I would do whatever you needed. Over time, I grew very weary, to the point where I was striving so much that it was costing me a lot more than just a little self-sacrifice. It was costing me money, my health, my well-being, my time, my energy, and more. After collapsing from pure exhaustion, extreme stress, and anxiety, I decided that I wanted to take back control. I no longer was going to strive to earn anyone’s love, but rather I was going to take care of myself. This is originally why I began the Self Love Challenge blog. I also decided to tack on to the idea that I wanted to help others find themselves too and take care of themselves also.

It sounds pretty innocent, right? I mean it’s not very selfish to want to do that. After all, it is helping people in some form by sharing my experiences and wisdom. What I really didn’t realize though was the underlying bitterness that I’ve been carrying. Bitterness is such a sneaky little (rather big) thing. It really is like a silent killer making its way into your heart, taking it over little by little so that you don’t really notice it’s there. It disguises itself so well too. It makes you believe that you’re really just protecting yourself from further pain or hurt or being taken advantage of, or at least that’s what it’s had me to believe.

This root of bitterness has been growing in my heart for some time now and it’s gotten to the point where I didn’t even realize how much of an influence it’s had on me. I used to want to earn people’s love, and I still do, but what’s changed is now that I feel like I’m entitled to it. I feel like I’m entitled to a lot of things – for example, I want people to take care of me now, to do favors for me, to shower me with attention, to encourage me, to help me, to do good things for me, to give me what I need. I feel like I deserve it now, because I worked so hard to earn it before that now I shouldn’t have to do anything in return anymore. I did my time. I paid my dues. And it’s funny because this attitude of entitlement isn’t really towards any specific people that I’ve helped in the past (although it is towards them too) but it is towards every human being I’ve come across, as if every single person in this world owes me something.

Writing these words makes me look and feel so selfish that I am so incredibly ashamed, but I am also incredible grateful that God is convicting my heart over this issue. Selfishness is something we can never excuse, no matter how much hurt we’ve endured, we are never entitled to feeling like we are too good to help others. That is the whole purpose of humanity isn’t it? To help one another. Isn’t it what we are commanded to do by Jesus himself, “that you love one another as I have loved you…” (John 15:12).

I haven’t been very loving. I’ve been deceived into thinking that I have been loving, and maybe I even have on several occasions, but mostly my heart is turned inward and focused only on satisfying my own needs. Because I have been in so much pain because of all I have been through these past years, I have turned myself inward, trying to protect myself from being hurt again, believing that if I took care of my own needs first then maybe I would be well enough to help others after I was satisfied. But I don’t think I have truly been satisfied since I’ve stopped serving others. I have been nothing but unhappy. Nothing has ever been enough because I am constantly seeking a little bit more – a little bit more love, a little bit more affection, a little bit more attention, a little bit more praise.

Don’t we all have our own hang ups though? Don’t we all fall short in some way? So I can’t immediately beat myself up for this, but I can change. I can work towards turning outward now and looking outside of my own needs.

How do we recognize that we are being selfish? The way I noticed it was more recently by observing how other people less selfish than I have been acting. I noticed that even if it inconvenienced them a little, they were still willing to help. I noticed that instead of thinking that someone else would take care of it, they took care of it themselves. I noticed that they saw the problem, and I simply wanted to pretend it wasn’t there. I noticed that they automatically though about the other person’s well-being, while I was only thinking of my own.

It started to really convict my heart when I would pray to God asking “why I wasn’t getting the kind of love I really wanted. Why wasn’t anyone friendly to me? Why didn’t I have more friends? Why didn’t people want to talk to me? Why, after all I had done, was not getting anything in return?” 

He then told me, “look at what you are asking. Everything is about you. Not about them. And my dear, it was never about you…

I responded, “WHAT? What do you mean it isn’t about me? Look at all I have done for others, how much I’ve sacrificed and where it got me! Don’t I deserve anything in return now for all my efforts?” 

And once again, God gently whispered to my heart, “look at all I have ever done for you, and have I ever asked for anything in return? No. Because I did it out of love and love is selfless. So you should not be so concerned either with getting things in return. Do it out of love. Do it out of selflessness. Not for a reward.”

I shut up then. I realized that all my efforts have always been for some kind of reward, and regardless if that reward was just earning someone’s love, it was still something I was seeking in return. And because I haven’t been getting what I thought I deserved in return, I’ve allowed this root of bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness to take hold in me.

God reminded me again, “do not fall short of grace, and do not let that bitter root grow up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15) I was falling way short of grace. I haven’t helped anyone just to help in so long. Or maybe I have, but I know deep down that it was always for some selfish reward that I was seeking.

I want to stop being this person. Now. I don’t want people to recognize me as someone who is unfriendly or unkind or unwilling to help. I don’t want to keep feeding that root of bitterness and feeding that resentment inside me to the point where I start to look at the worst in people rather than the best of them. Love assumes the best, not the worst. I want to help people in need, just for their sake, not mine, just so I can help them further their own lives, rather than gain something for myself.

I can’t be this way anymore. This isn’t self love. This is just selfishness. And I feel like I’ve let people down because of it, but in truth, I had no idea. But that is the beauty of growth and wisdom. We learn and we come to know more than we did yesterday, so that we can change today for a better tomorrow. I want to change today, so I can start making a real impact for tomorrow. Not for my benefit. Not because I want to gain love or respect or earn attention. But with pure intentions in my heart. To help others even if it does nothing for me but make me feel happy that I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life. That is real happiness too. Because no matter how much we try to earn it through hidden motives, we will always find ourselves empty. We must always have pure intentions. We must always do everything in love.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Stop thinking about you. Do something for someone else purely out of love and don’t expect any reward in return.

xx

Christina Ciro

p.s.

This was a very difficult post for me to write. I hope none of you will judge me for it. But rather grow in understanding about my own personal journey. Please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear any thoughts or comments on what is going on in your own life or what you are struggling with. I’d love to learn from you.

And don’t forget to follow my page on Facebook and Instagram @christina.ciro!

Thank you! xxxxx

The Meaning of Life or What Really Matters.

I came across a Bible verse today that really struck me hard this morning. It wasn’t even the biblical context that really made me question things, but rather in relation to life itself.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

For those of you who do not believe in God, I’ll translate it into what it meant to me that may relate to you more.

If you gain all the riches of the world, fame, fortune, all sorts of pleasure, any material possession, anything you can basically imagine achieving that is defined as success by the world, but then have nothing truly meaningful in your life like love, family, relationships, any sort of impact on other’s lives, or any kind of desire for creating eternal change, then what is the point of it all?

This made me think. It made me think of the world we live in. How literally everyone is focused on achieving their own instant gratification rather than creating deeper connections or greater impact. We have become such a selfish society. And I am not afraid to say that, even towards myself because we all fall into the same trap. It makes us feel good to fulfill our own desires. It is human instinct to be selfish. And the times we live in now, not only encourage it more so than ever before, but it has become the social norm to be this way, when in generations before, it was not.

Our image has become our God. We worship our image. We do everything we can to create this outward appeal. We go to great lengths, even if it means hurting others who get in the way. We sacrifice our families, our friends, our careers, our relationship. We seek more and more and more, and yet during our life time we have become the most depressed generation.

Why is this? Because we have turned inward. We have forgotten what it’s like to experience real connection. Loving others has become less of a priority and giving to ourselves has raised to the top. It’s not even about self-love, because we don’t even love ourselves. In fact, we hate ourselves more than ever because we are constantly so focused on outdoing everyone else’s image with our own. But we can never feel like we are enough.

I see how the widening popularity of social media has impacted the way we see our own identity. We base our worth on who “likes” our stuff or who we are friends with or how many followers we have.

It’s not only affecting our lives online, but also offline. Our culture has made it so that it has become so acceptable to overshare our opinions of literally everything that everyone believes that they must conform to what is popular in order to be deemed as a “worthy individual.” It is ruining relationships. Friendships. Careers. Causing identity crisis. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Jealousy. Rage.   

It is creating so much hatred in the world as well. Look at the recent shootings. We are spreading news and opinions so quickly that people don’t even get a moment to digest it but rather are overwhelmed with the opinions of everyone else in a matter of seconds. Then before you know it, all of this promoting causes them to feel entitled enough to go out and fix the problem themselves – resulting in even more destruction. There is so much animosity. So much judgment. So much entitlement. So many opinions of what is right and wrong. And all it does is create chaos and produce more confusion.

I’m not blaming it all on social media. This isn’t a post about social media at all and how I am advocating against it (I’m not, I know now it can be used for good). It’s rather a post about the way our culture has evolved just in the last 10 years. How much importance it is placing on the wrong things. And as a result, we have lost the true meaning and purpose of life. It was never about us.

What is the meaning and purpose of life?

A friend of mine is doing a project on this very question. I responded to her question, and I wanted to share an expanded version of my response with you. I am not saying that even my own opinion is right, but what I can tell you is that the meaning of life is not to glorify ourselves and create a world of competition, lost identity, and hatred.

The meaning of life. Wow. Such a complicated yet simple question. I think the meaning of life is several things. The first purpose is to love. I believe we were created (by God) to love and to receive love in return. I think love was created for a good reason. It is obviously important because it is truly the basis for every purpose and motivation in life. We do things out of love. We experience things out of love. We pursue things out of love. We create things out of love. We are inspired because of love. Love is the one universal thing that connects us all. It is understood in every language.

It doesn’t even have to be romantic love, it can be any kind of relational connection from strangers to friends to family to significant others. Love is meant to be shared. It is meant to be given freely and received freely. It is not meant to be judged. It is not meant to create competition. It is not meant to spread division. Rather it is used to unite. Anything that is not love is based off fear and fear is what causes disconnection. Fear is what drives our need for competition. Fear is what creates hatred among each other. Fear is what causes entitlement. Fear is what tells us to focus on ourselves and not others. Fear is what kills. Love does none of this. Love is pure. It’s only motivation is for good. Love others. Love ourselves. 

The second purpose of life is to connect. We all learn from each other, whether growing up as children and learning from our parents to learning from our peers. Each of these relationships create a connection. Without connection humans would cease to exist. It is that vital. 

There was a scientific study in the 1950s called the “Monkey Love Experiments” conducted by psychologist Harry Harlow. Through the use of baby monkeys and robots, he conducted a theory to prove how critical it is to have emotional attachment and connection in our lives and when we cease to have this, we literally go insane. In his experiments he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in two separate groups – one with a surrogate robot mother that was made a plain electronics and wires but had provided nourishment (milk) and a second surrogate robot mother that did not provide nourishment but was covered in soft terry cloth to resemble the comforting presence of a real mother. He found that the monkeys that were placed with the plain robot showed signs of emotional deprivation and depression even though they were adequately nourished. The other monkeys seemed happier and more secure because they were able to form an emotional attachment and connection to the terry cloth covered robot. (Link)


What this proves is our significant need for emotional attachment and connection. Without it, we are empty. Purposeless. It is the same for human beings. Without adequate connections to others, our lives feel meaningless. I believe that one of our deepest human needs is to feel understood and we can only find that understanding when we connect to others. We connect by being vulnerable with each other and once we can break that barrier, we find understanding. We create the emotional attachment. Understanding allows us to feel loved and a sense of belonging.

In today’s world, I feel like we have less of that sense of belonging now more than ever. We are all trying so desperately to connect, and yet we have become so far from it because our attempts are directed in the wrong way. Instead of seeking to understand, we are seeking to compete. Instead of seeking to love, we are seeking to judge. Instead of being vulnerable, we are only revealing ourselves as a carefully put together façade of what we want people to see. Connection cannot blossom through this way of being.

The third and final meaning of life, I believe is to create. And not necessarily to create artwork, although it can be, but in essence to create anything. We can create life by reproduction , children. We can create beauty – through outward expression, through human connection, through love. We can create friendships. We can create whatever it is that inspires us to grow and learn, and most importantly to steer mankind into a worthy direction.

God created creation by creating us. He created love. He created nature. He created the Earth and all of the universe. Creating was His gift to us and we must also follow His lead by creating good things as well. We must create out of love, not out of fear.

This is what I believe the true meaning to life is. To love. To connect. And to create. When we lack these things, our life becomes empty – purposeless. Without love, we are nothing. Without connection we feel isolated and misunderstood. And when we have no creativity, we have no form of outward expression, no motivation to keep us going, so life becomes boring.

Three simple things originally based in love, and yet we have evolved into turning them all into things based on fear. Instead of loving, we now hate. Instead of connecting, we have now become selfish. Instead of creating,  we destroy. 


The self love daily challenge: Let’s work together to originate ourselves back to the true and worthy meanings of life. Let’s love again. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Let’s connect again. Talk to someone. Understand them. Relate to them. And lastly, let’s inspire each other to create good things. To express ourself in positive, healthy ways. 

xx

Christina Ciro

 

 

 

Instructions for Freedom.


“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” – Elizabeth Gilbert
It seems lately the common theme of my life has shifted to letting go, whether it is letting go of control, letting go of worries, or letting go of the past. I feel like this entire journey has progressed through so many different stages of healing and developing resilience, dabbling back and forth between complete brokenness, resentment and anger, a period of learning, and lastly hopefully ending up somewhere in actual healing territory. But that’s what journeys are for. If it were easy and we arrived quickly without any challenge, then I don’t think we would grow very much as human beings.

It’s been a tough road. My breakdown in 2014 was a turning point in my life where finally I would go from trying to control every aspect of my life to losing almost all control over everything and completely being in acceptance mode.  I was forced to accept many things, definitely not by choice, which led me to changing my lifestyle completely. As time went on, I did inevitably grow stronger. I was able to stop resisting, which is one of the most important factors of finding freedom. Once you begin to stop resisting things, or rather trying to keep your power of control, that’s when you will begin to find freedom. Once you begin to realize that you’re not really as powerful as you believe, and that ultimately things happen anyway, you will start to feel more peace. 

As I grew more confident with knowing who I was, I realized that the life I was leading was not one I truly wanted for myself. I was unhappy and ultimately leading a life that had drifted far from what I had desired for myself. My then boyfriend and I had grown apart for years, but because of fear, I did nothing about it. I stayed because that is what fear does to people. Fear is also what puts us in a control state of mind. When we are afraid, we grasp for control, and to me staying in that relationship gave me a false sense of control over my life when in reality it just made me unhappy and gave me a false sense of security. I bravely ended things after 8 years of being together. (For those of you following my blog, this is kind of a recap, sorry!) It was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It now meant that I literally was giving up control over my future and trusting in faith in stead that somehow things would work out for me, that I would be led to whatever I was meant to be doing. 

Since then it has been a journey of trial and error, or learning and discovering, and of lots and lots of letting go. I didn’t realize until after things were over, wayyyy after things were over (I’m talking a year here) that I was holding on to so much resentment. 


Here’s the thing I recently learned about resentment. Resentment and fear are really connected. As this Life Hack article suggests, “We become trapped in a self obsessed cycle of being afraid of the future, angry in the present, and filled with resentment over our past.” I guess the resentment was always there, just because I was already harboring bitterness from not being in a place I wanted to be in my relationship and my life. I guess I just didn’t know it until after the fact, because that is usually what happens after things like this end. While you’re in it, you’re too blind by your own emotions that you don’t really know what you are feeling exactly except that it hurts. But once it’s over, and time passes, you begin to understand what you were truly feeling.

The point at which my resentment really came tumbling out was right after I found out he had gotten married to someone else right away. And it wasn’t really because I was upset that it was to someone else and not me, it was simply because I was afraid for my own future. 

My anger was coming out of a place of fear. I felt afraid for my future – “what if I never get married now, all because I let him go?” Anger and blame over the future coming from more fear – “it’s all his fault that I’m not married now.” And lastly, resentment – “I wasted all that time just to be unwanted.” 

Feelings are a funny thing. I don’t think we should necessarily avoid them when we have them, even if they don’t necessarily feel right to have. I think the more we avoid what we are truly feeling, the longer it takes for us to get over something and let it go so that we can move on to a healthier state of mind.  

I really was not aware that I was harboring these feelings because I was avoiding them for the longest time. I kept saying I was fine, that it didn’t matter, and that I was over it. In reality, I was just in denial over the fact that what I was feeling was hurt and most of all fear of my future after making the life altering decision to leave. 

So I guess I’ve been dealing with these feelings now. I’ve been trying to accept them and acknowledge them rather than avoid them or minimalist them. It’s difficult because when you finally begin to accept the feelings and really feel them, a rush of pain, hurt, and anger starts to course through your body. What I’ve learned to do is write down why exactly I feel resentment towards this person or why I feel hurt by them. I then have learned to write down what part of me it affects, for example, I feel hurt by my ex because I feel rejected that he did not want to have a future of marriage and family with me and this made me feel unworthy or undeserving of love. So my underlying fear was that I wasn’t worthy of being loved, then or even now, which explains why in my current relationship I feel so insecure and constantly need reassurance. Isn’t it crazy what holding in our emotions can do? How, eventually with enough passing time, it can even alter our core beliefs about ourselves? 

Most people do not realize this. They hold in these emotions like anger or bitterness or hurt, believing that by avoiding it, they are somehow saving themselves from a lot of pain, when in reality, it is alo hurting and causing further issues in their present lives. Imagine if we don’t get over some past relationship and then start a new one, eventually those old resentments will make themselves present in the current relationshii because ultimately we will end up projecting our deep feelings of hurt onto our current partners, sometimes even unfairly blaming them for it. 

With all that said, the key to freedom really is acceptance – and by acceptance I mean accepting what we feel. Accepting that we were hurt. Accepting that we were abandoned. Accepting that we were rejected. Accepting that we are angry. Accepting that we feel pain. Accepting that it happened. Accepting that it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to. Accepting that it was the past. Accepting that we have no more control over it. Accepting that maybe we never had control in the first place. 

Once we begin to allow the acceptance of thee things, then we can begin the healing process of letting go. Ultimately that is what we want. To let go of all the weight that we carry, and to feel free and light once again.  So, my goal for myself is to not only learn to accept what I am feeling right now, but to eventually let it go. To accept that it was painful, but that it’s ok to feel hurt. I must accept also that it was my choice. And that ultimately I had never had control over a guaranteed future. I still don’t. The future is never guaranteed because it is always changing and sometimes we really can’t control the course we are placed on. All we have control over is how we handle it. So we can choose to sit here with our anger and resentment and bitterness, and pretty much continue ruining our lives by living in constant fear or we can let it all go, find freedom, and begin to live by faith instead – trusting that one way or another it’s going to be ok if we decide to let go of our tight grip. 

I want to stop living in a place of fear and rather living in a place of love and acceptance. I want to stop controlling everything, and instead simply let go and let things fall naturally into place. I want to stop living in resentment and carrying this poison of bitterness inside me over something in the past that I literally have no more control over. I want to start enjoying my present and trusting in my future, whatever that may be. 


Lastly, I want to share a piece from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, where she shares a piece of wisdom from a New Zealand plumber she met at an ashram in India. In her own journey, she too was struggling with accepting the feelings she was feeling after her divorce and everything else she had been going through at the time. She was having trouble letting it all go and finding that freedom. So a man she met sends her off to the top of the ashram tower with a small note of instruction on how exactly to find that freedom. This is what it said:

 “Instructions for freedom”:

1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.

2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.

3. The day is ending, it’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You are being here is God’s response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.

5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.

6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.

7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.

8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.

9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It’s safe, let go.

10. When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.
The Self Love Daily Challege: accept what you feel and let go.
xx

Christina Ciro

Life Advice from a Yogi Tea Bag. 


I found this Yogi Tea tag in the grass last weekend and it sparked a bit of inspiration in me to write again.
(Side note: I find it’s been hard to literally just sit and write sometimes, because I’m always wondering if it’s good enough or important enough to post. As if I have thousands of readers and could possibly let them down if my writing sucks somehow. Who cares right? I’m writing for me. Well and for you too. But mainly for me just so I can keep being creative and following my passion in life to be an encourager through my writing.)

 The quote on the tag said “Life is a gift. Experience is beauty.” Such a simple phrase. And I thought maybe it meant something deeper that I just wasn’t getting. But then I thought, no, it’s pretty straightforward. Life is a gift. And the experiences we have do make it beautiful and human.

I had been on my way to having an experience at that very moment. My boyfriend and a few of our other friends were taking me on a hike up a trail in Los Angeles that led to the famous Griffith Observatory. I had never been up this trail, and I had never really done much hiking before either, mainly because I had never really been in good enough shape too hike anywhere before giving up from exhaustion. Cardio was never my thing, however, now it kind of is. I am learning to love it, especially if it is attached to doing something fun like sight-seeing or exploring new terrain and taking photographs. That’s one of my favorite things to do – as I am part photographer. I love taking photographs, even if it is of the most ordinary thing, but the way I see it, it doesn’t look so ordinary to me –in fact when I do photograph something, I try to seek the beauty in it.


I think I’ve written on the subject beauty seeking before. I got the idea from one of my favorite writer’s, Jennifer Pastiloff, who encouraged the idea of seeking beauty on purpose in everyday life. I think it’s such an important practice to take up because it really makes you appreciate the smaller moments in life, that may otherwise be overlooked. So I decided that I would try to seek beauty in everything I do, especially in the adventures I go on.

Experience really is what makes life beautiful. It doesn’t always have to be something spectacular either – it could be simply taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. But when you shift your focus from it just being an ordinary walk, to really slowing down and taking the time to appreciate all the finer details, it becomes more of an experience. You find beauty in the places in between ordinary and extraordinary. You begin to become more aware, to notice, to search, to find. You look for things on purpose and by doing so you create a positive memory in your brain that triggers a feeling of gratitude and peace.

In the past, I used to instead seek what I could complain about first. This is such an unhealthy practice, but so many of us do this unknowingly. Tell me if this sounds familiar. You go for a hike. The first thoughts that begin to pop up in your mind are:

“Oh…what if it gets too hot?… What if I become tired and I can’t make it up the hill?… I think I might need better shoes because these aren’t the most comfortable… Oh but hiking may take too long, I have other things to do… My legs are aching and I’m ready for this to be over now…”

These thoughts become such a distraction from the experience that we find ourselves not even present at all and completely miss the beauty of the experience itself. We become so immersed in our worries over all the details that don’t really matter because they are all future thoughts, that we forget the beauty that surrounds us right then and there. How at that very moment we are on top of a mountain overlooking the city. We forget that we are surrounded by nature, the swaying trees and colorful flowers. We take for granted the fact that our amazing bodies are actually carrying us up this hill in the first place, that our lungs are capable of breathing in enough air to sustain us, that we are able to see the breathtaking sights around us. We forget all this all because we are not present. We are not aware, but rather our minds are set in the future. We are always thinking of a later time, and yet we don’t realize how we are just fast forwarding so quickly through experiences that we miss them entirely.

I regret the fact that I used to do this all the time. That I couldn’t wait until something was over. Even presently I catch myself doing it sometimes, especially when it comes to capturing moments for social media. I want to get it on camera just so I can post it to the world, but then I end up missing the experience in real time. Rather, I have to re-live it through my pictures, which isn’t nearly as wonderful.

We have to slow down. I think that’s what it is. We live in a world that is so fast paced that we forget to just stop and take a look around once in a while. We take for granted so many things that we don’t realize all that we are truly blessed with.


 As I walked up the trail, I made sure this time that I was present. That I slowed myself down rather than tried to race to the top just to say I accomplished my goal. I took time to linger in the sun, to bask in its rays seeping through the branches. It was a beautiful experience. A beauty seeking moment for sure.

Let us relish in the experiences of life. Rather than categorizing them as bad, good, waste of time, or spectacular; let us find simple beauty within each one. Let us find gratitude in each moment and honor the time we have here on Earth rather than worrying over, rushing through it, or taking it for granted.


This is my prayer for us all. This is my hope for us all. That we learn to seek beauty in everything. That we never forget how good we have it, even if all seems bad at the moment. There is always a blessing.

Life is a gift. We should treat it as such.

And beauty is the experience.

The Self Love Challenge of the day: Live each day like it is a gift and slow down to really experience it.

xx

Christina Ciro

An Important Lesson in Patience and Trust.

  
Hi lovelies! 

The Lord loves convicting my heart, doesn’t He? Yes, another biblical based post, just because I am learning SO much from God right now in regards to my own life and because I feel it will be so relevant to others, I must share! 

I don’t know what it is, but once you hit your late 20’s, it seems as if everyone you know is either doing one of three things – getting married, having a baby, or living up their life with a successful job/relationship. And with the joyous help of social media, it seems as if all of these exciting life events that are happening to your friends will be broadcasted in your face 24/7. So it becomes a constant reminder that either a) you’re not engaged, b) you’re not married and having a baby, or c) your life pretty much sucks.

 Now, I hate to be a downer, but it’s only natural that as humans we like to compare and compete with everyone else. So my natural tendency is to compare my own life to the lives of everyone else I know and right now, my life doesn’t seem all too exciting. To make matters worse, as any girl I’m sure would relate, being engaged, having a baby or just having a wonderful life in general is a girl’s life goal. Ok, I don’t mean that it’s the only life goal we ever have, because that would be kind of shallow, but these events are all pretty important milestones that us women REALLY look forward too. And because I am ticking closer to 30 as each day goes by, the thought of “what if I never get married” is becoming much more prominent.

So because of all this nonsense and worry, I’ve brought it upon myself to have a mini panic attack after hearing the news of yet another engagement of someone I know and I’ve been stuck in a bit of a slump ever since. I went through the typical (pathetic, non-self-loving) motions – “why me? What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone love me?” for the past week and half. And then today I had enough. I sat down and I prayed. And I had a little conversation with God that went something like this:

“Hey God, yup, it’s me again. OK seriously what’s going on here? Why am I the last one to get married out of everyone? You know I want it so bad. Like I’ve wanted it since I was a little girl. And my dream has always been to be a wife and a mother. So why won’t you just let it happen already? I’m ready now. I’m going to be 27. Can you just make my boyfriend ready to propose already so we can move on with this? I reallllly don’t want to get to 30 and not be married yet, so please spare me that embarrassment ok? Work with me?”
And then God, being the loving Father that He is, said no.

 At first I was upset. I mean it’s normal for any grown 27 year old woman my age to throw a temper tantrum when her Almighty Father says “no” to one of her biggest requests, right? Yeah. I don’t know. But I was seriously upset. I started to even doubt His love for me. I started to doubt whether I was even good enough or beautiful enough or lovable enough for a man to even want me. But then I realized right away that it was all just Satan speaking in my ear. So I started to ask why instead. Why is He saying “no” to me right now?

I began listening to a sermon from The Gathering Oasis Ministry about Christian dating, and even though it was kind of unrelated, the pastor began to speak about something that completely answered my question. He was talking about women just like me who were asking God why He wasn’t bringing them a husband or children or whatever it is that they wanted out of life. He then spoke about how most of the time the reason is because it isn’t in God’s timing yet and because we aren’t trusting God with our desires. The other thing that really stuck out with me, that I know for sure was a message directly from the Holy Spirit was this one line: Patience is a fruit of the spirit. And contentment solves the need to be impatient.

Whoa. That is truth literally hitting you in the gut

God gave me my answer. He wasn’t saying “no” entirely, He was just saying “not yet.” He was trying to explain to me that I was being really impatient and not trusting in His timing for what He wants in my life for me right now. And because I wasn’t trusting Him and being really impatient, it was breeding a lot of discontentment in my life to the point where if I continued this way, it could very easily ruin the wonderful relationship I already had going. He made me aware that I wasn’t enjoying the waiting period – the discovering and learning period of a relationship. He told me that I was being too impatient, that I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to fast forward to marriage because in reality I’m still not ready because He is still working on me.

This hit me pretty hard, and I’ll be honest, it was kind of disappointing to hear that I wasn’t getting what I wanted still, but at the same time, I do feel at peace. I feel like I really do need to trust in His timing and His plan, because He really is the only one who knows best. It made me think that what if I really am not ready for marriage or baby and what if God is saving me from a lot of heartbreak because of my lack of preparation right now. I know He needs to work in me still. I know there is a lot to learn. And I’m sure there is a lot of work that needs to be done on my future husband as well (whoever that may be.) So yeah, it’s kind of disappointing, but it’s also kind of exciting, because I know that if I do trust and be patient and endure like He says, then the result will be something beautiful. I don’t want to rush things and make them a mess.

So here’s my lesson to you all, trust in the Lord and be patient. I know it’s hard to endure that period of waiting, but it will probably be worth it. And in the meantime, learn to be content right now. Find joy in the present moment. Maybe it’s not where you’d like to be, but enjoy it for what it is right now. Find happiness in it. Life is too short to be miserable over waiting for things you want to happen. They will happen when they happen, if they are meant to. I just thought of this metaphor that relates. It’s like fruit. If you force it to ripen before it is ready, it won’t be very sweet. But if you let it ripen on its own, you can guarantee it will be delicious and rewarding. So let the events in your life ripen naturally.

And for all of my married friends or soon to be married friends or friends with babies or even friends with super successful, amazing lives, I’m happy for you. There’s nothing worse than being bitter over someone else’s happiness. So I’m not going to let myself be that person. My time will come too. I just have to keep reminding myself – patience and trust, patience and trust, patience and trust. I think you’ll find that once you begin to let go of holding on tight to the thing you want most, somehow it will end up in your hands anyway when the time is right. 

The Self Love Challenge: 

Have patience with the things in your life you want most. Trust in God’s timing. And allow things to ripen naturally
xx

Christina Ciro