7 Things to Try When You’re Feeling Stuck in a Relationship

Feeling stuck is a place no one thinks they’ll end up, nor is it a place anyone wants to be. When one meets their new heartthrob, you can literally foresee what the next several years will look like—so much happiness that it’s coming out of your nose, an abundance of laughter, and more loving feels than you ever imagined possible.

But what if life takes a different course? A course that involves less happiness than you expected, and a whole lot of resentment and wishing things were better? Unfortunately, this is a reality in many relationships. The crazy part is that this is usually the case with the love affairs we expect to last forever.

So where do you go from here? You feel like your relationship has hit a wall, and sometimes you feel like you want to bang your head against that same wall. You’re feeling stuck. Do you walk away? Well maybe…? But what if you just need some space? You love your other half so much that words can’t do that love justice—seriously, how did you end up here?

Well, the first (and most important) question you need to ask yourself is if you’re feeling stuck because of you, or because of the relationship.

In order to figure it out, try these seven things:

Take a step back

In order to get a wide angle view, sometimes you need to step out of your comfortable bubble. What does the picture look like from a different standpoint? Do you like what you see? What would you do differently if you could move pieces of the puzzle around?

When we look at our lives from a different perspective, from a different lens, it’s possible that new things may come to light…

Brainstorm

Spend time considering the issues you’re facing. Once you have that down, brainstorm how to overcome those issues. It’s okay if you can’t do it alone; be sure to ask for help.

Rediscover you 

Feeling stuck can sometimes be related to losing sight of who you are, and which direction life is taking you. This happens—a lot—and it’s called a crisis. Rediscover yourself. Reinvent yourself. Learn new things, try things you’ve never done before, spend time alone. Be sure that you’re able to figure out what it is that you need to get unstuck, and pursue it.

Reconnect with your social network

Humans are social beings. Yes, being in a relationship is great, but don’t cut out the people in your life. Rather, make it a point to reach out to those people. Spend time with others, especially good friends and family members. So much of who you are comes from the strong bonds in your life. If you can reconnect with an important person, it’s possible for you to reconnect with healthy parts of yourself you forgot existed…

Be basic

No one wants to be basic, but I promise, this is a good kind of basic. Go back to the basics. The best parts of you stem from the things you love to do—the things that make you who you are. We all grow up, move on, and forget the things that we love. Go back there. Go back to the places that make you smile, and do the simple things that bring you absolute, unconditional joy.

Want to go for a bike ride by the beach? Or swing on the playground all day? Or just cuddle in your mom’s lap while watching rom-coms and sipping on hot cocoa? Yeah, do that—do all of that. It will ground you.

Talk to your partner

It may feel like you’re the only one feeling stuck, but maybe your partner’s on the same boat. Talk to each other. Let your partner know how you’re feeling and have a discussion. It’s possible that the two of you may have grown out of this relationship. Or maybe you just need some fire to re-ignite that flame. Whatever it may be, communicate your thoughts and feelings with your partner.

Make changes

At the end of the day, whether moving forward solo or with your partner by your side, something needs to change. Figure out what you want, and go after it. Life is too short to be unhappy, and you’re the only person who can make you happy…

feeling stuck | relationships | communication | change | self-care | back to the basics

Still not sure if you’re in the right relationship? Here’s how to know if it’s real love…

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xx,

Paula

10 Emotional Consequences of a Dysfunctional Relationship

If you’ve ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, please raise your hand. Yup—my arm is definitely in the air…

The battle with dysfunctional relationships is that they may not seem so bad at first. The red flags are usually there, but they’re not severe enough to cause alarm until you’re in pretty deep. Or it’s possible that it was a choice to overlook those concerning behaviors all along. Regardless, they’re very misleading…

I decided to address this topic today because a reader recently reached out to me and shared her story. I think it takes a lot of courage to become aware of how dangerous some of these red flags are, and most importantly, being able to acknowledge that you deserve better. I personally went through something very similar, and experienced many of the emotional obstacles discussed in this article.

While undergoing the internal struggle between the madness of things eventually getting better, or you needing to make a run for it, it’s possible to suffer a great deal of psychological and emotional harm in the interim. With this, you begin to question everything and start to feel that you don’t deserve better. But guess what? You do!

That’s what a dysfunctional relationship does—it causes you to feel as though you are not worthy of love, and care, and happiness, and stability, and all other things that allow one to feel secure and safe. But you are worthy.

Dysfunctional relationships can cause a lot of damage, and whether you’re in a place where you’re contemplating a break-up, or have already walked away, there is a great deal to overcome once it’s over…

10 emotional consequences of a dysfunctional relationship:

1. Decreased self-esteem

It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when the person who is supposed to bring out the best in you makes you feel small.  Actions such as pushing you away, making you feel unwanted or unimportant, constantly placing blame, or only pointing out your faults, can absolutely cause a significant drop in your self-worth.

In situations like this, remember that you’re not the problem. This type of treatment is unacceptable. Be sure to stand up for yourself (if safe), and engage in activities that will your self-love on a daily basis. Constantly use this as a reminder of just how great you are…

2. Feeling at fault

Remember that the way in which your partner acts or treats you is not your fault. Each person is responsible for their own actions, and should be able to address matters in a respectful and kind way. If your partner makes you feel as though they need to treat you poorly, that is not on you. And you shouldn’t tolerate that type of treatment either…

3. Somatic symptoms

Sometimes our feelings can be so severe that they physically manifest themselves. Going through an emotional rollercoaster can literally make you feel sick to your stomach. If you start to experience physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

At this point, it is important to consider the way in which your relationship is effecting your health. Your wellness should always be your top priority.

4. Lack of motivation

It’s really difficult to achieve your goals and focus on the things that matter when you’re distracted by your relationship. Not to mention, negative feelings and decreased self-esteem can strongly interfere in your successes.

5. All the negativity

Experiencing a plethora of negative thoughts and feelings over an extended period of time can be very unhealthy. Between the anger, resentment, sadness, self-doubt, and disappointment, it can feel nearly impossible to find some joy.

Try to keep your head above water by surrounding yourself with people you love—people that are supportive. Engaging in activities that make you feel good is also a healthy way to combat some of the negativity…

6. Inapt priorities

Our priorities shift due to life circumstances. When in a dysfunctional relationship, priorities become blurred, and what’s important can sometimes be placed on the backburner. Be sure to always put yourself first and maintain sight of your needs.

7. Isolation

Depending on the direction in which your relationship is going, it’s possible that you may become isolated. Whether you’ve become disinterested in socializing, or spend all of your free time with your partner and his circle or friends, this can be very serious. Try to remain in contact with your friends and family, and make time to see them.

Also, feeling isolated and unsupported can absolutely hinder you from walking away from a dysfunctional relationship, if you decide to. Your social network is a resource—keep the lines of communication open.

8. Learning to tolerate abuse

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, including emotional, verbal, and physical. Being mistreated so often eventually starts to feel normal. This is extremely problematic, and being abused is never okay. If you need help, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

9. Tolerating dishonesty

Whether lying, cheating, or stealing, dishonest behavior should not be tolerated. Trust is an important part of any relationship, and you deserve better.

10. Losing yourself

Whether losing sight of who you are, or losing your voice and ability to stand up for yourself, this is the most difficult emotional outcome to recover from. Not being heard when trying to speak your mind is destructive and hurtful. Being with a person who is not interested in hearing your thoughts or feelings is a person that is not worthy of you

Dysfunctional relationships are exactly that, dysfunctional. Don’t allow yourself to feel that you are to blame for all of the misfortunes of your relationship. You’re not, and you deserve more

relationships | love | dysfunctional relationship | emotions

Not sure how to walk away from your dysfunctional relationship? Read up on how to prepare yourself here

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xx,

Paula

How to Say Goodbye to an Unhealthy Relationship

Being in an unhealthy relationship can break your spirit, but so can saying goodbye…

You’ve found yourself in a relationship that makes you unhappy. In a relationship that is no longer fulfilling. In a relationship that is unhealthy for you. Are you ready to abandon ship?

Sure, but how?

Living through the cycles of an unhealthy relationship is very familiar to me. Deciding to quit the person you love, or think you love, is a struggle that I wish on no one.  Not only are you internally battling yourself, but making your way out will most likely cause a scuffle.

The decision to leave the relationship, in and of itself, is tough. You start to look back at all the great times you’ve had together and wonder how you’ll survive without your beau by your side. You count all the months and years you’ve spent building a life together, and don’t want it all to go to waste. You reflect on all of the adventures you’ve had together, and just can’t imagine exploring the world with anyone else.

I know, I’ve been there. It’s hard to believe that you can wake up and not see your partners face. To hear a funny joke and realize that they’re not by your side giggling too. How can you live a day without the love of your life?

Guess what? Life goes on, and so will you.

Fear is not a valid reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship that makes you miserable and causes distress. Yes, you invested a lot of time. Yes, it will be hard to let go. Yes, you will heal and eventually find that life is better without this person.

You will be doing yourself a colossal disservice by staying in a relationship that is making you unhappy because you’re scared of the unknown. You deserve the best that life has to offer, and it’s up to you to advocate for your happiness and wellness…

10 Ways to Prep Yourself for Saying Goodbye to an Unhealthy Relationship:

1. Weigh the pros and cons

Make a list of all the good and bad things about your relationship. What aspects of your relationship are positive and give you happy feels? What aspects make you feel angry, sad, resentful, etc.? Are there things about your partner that drive you absolutely crazy? Or things that make you smile so hard your face feels like it’s going to fall off? If the bad things outweigh the good, you’ll need to reconsider where you stand…

2. Consider how often you’re happy

Once upon a time I thought that it was acceptable to be in a relationship where happiness was a distant concept. Now that I’m in a relationship where I feel happy at least 90% of the time, I know that happiness really isn’t an inaccessible notion. If you’re with the right person, in the right kind of relationship, you should be happy more often than not.

So, think about it: how often are you happy in your relationship?

3. Make final attempts

Know that you did everything you could to make it work. Improving communication, making changes and compromises, taking a break, going to counseling, etc. If after you’ve done literally everything to make it work, and it’s not—then it’s just not working. No regrets.

4. Don’t blame yourself

Relationships are a two-way street, and even though you may have done everything in your power, there’s a chance it still won’t work out. If someone really wants to be in a relationship, they will also do whatever it takes—you are not the only one to blame for the failure of your relationship. Remember—It takes two to tango.

5. Create a plan

Whether it’s looking for a new place to live, figuring out who gets custody of the dog, or deciding how to call it quits—have a plan.  Make sure that all of your bases are covered, especially if you two have any financial/legal ties.

6. Reach out to your support network

When in certain relationships, we become isolated or spend less time with friends and family. Reach out to the people you love. Rekindle those friendships and get together. If you feel comfortable doing so, let them know what you’ve been going through.

Break-ups are never easy, and you will need a tremendous amount of support during this transition. Know who to call, and who to count on. Be sure that you are well supported, because you’re going to need all the TLC you can get…

7. Know that you deserve better

Again, I know making a move as significant as this one is terrifying. You’re so doubtful, and fearful, and unsure of what the future will offer, but know that you deserve better than what you’re going through right now. Love is supposed to be a beautiful thing—and not just temporarily. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy, even if that means finding happiness on your own first.

8. Take a trip to Muscle Beach

Always remember how strong and resilient you are. Regardless of the circumstances, you’ve made it this far. You’ve made it through a tremendous amount of hardship and struggle in life. You have what it takes to get through this—don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

9. You will survive

Initially, things are going to suck. But know that you will be okay. You will survive this, and it will only make you stronger—so cliché, I know. Most importantly, don’t believe your partner when they say you’re nothing without them. You are everything you’ll ever need, plus some.

10. Embrace life & love yourself

Along with knowing that you deserve better, give yourself permission to experience joy again. Do the things that you once loved, and find new things that bring you pleasure. Be free of criticism and hurt, and live life in a way that is fulfilling. Love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself, no one else will be able to love you the way you deserve to be love.

unhealthy | relationships | saying goodbye | break-ups

Not sure how to cope with the actual break-up? Check out these tips on how to move forward….

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xx,

Paula

How to Best Cope With a Break-Up

Going through a break-up can be rough…

You and your beau just ended things. You’re still trying to fathom what the hell just happened. Is it really over?? What? Seriously, what just happened?

All of the moments shared, the nights of laughter and cuddles, all of the fun and adventure…turns out it wasn’t enough. None of it makes any sense. How can you live a life where your beau isn’t by your side?

We’ve all been there, and have made it through that unthinkable mess. No matter how many times you go through heart break, it never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder. As we get older, we tend to have more meaningful relationships, too. With this, we invest more, we have future plans, and it feels nearly impossible to walk away.

A very good friend of mine was sharing with me how difficult it’s been to try and move forward after her break-up. She and her fiancé broke it off, and it’s been devastating. She and the person that committed to spending their lives together just bailed. We’re not talking about cancelling a dinner and a movie date here, we’re talking about walking away from forever.

Whoa. That’s heavy.  

So how do you make it through a break-up? Other than watching Dirty Dancing, and scream-singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite Dashboard Confessional songs, there are plenty of things you can do.

Check out my guide to best cope with a break-up:

1.Prohibit contact

I truly believe in a no contact policy. This was something I did with my last break-up, and it made things so much easier. Cut the ex out of your life, cold turkey. It can be difficult, but it’s well worth it. If you absolutely need to, replace the ex’s number with your best friends’. Any desire to make contact will be fulfilled by connecting with someone else that you love.

NO. CONTACT. POLICY.

2. Say goodbye to social media

Whatever social media platforms you two are friended on, DELETE THE EX ON ALL OF THEM. Seriously, you just have to. In order to move on, you cannot know what your ex is up to, where your ex is, or who your ex is now dating. Pressing that unfriend button will provide you with the space you need to start letting go—it will allow you to move forward. It really is the first step…

It doesn’t hurt to delete all of the ex’s family and friends too. Yes, there may be some mutual friends you still really like, and that’s fine. However, you might want to consider limiting what shows up on your feed for the first few months…

3. No cyber stalking

Seriously, no stalking. It is detrimental to your healing, and seeing things you don’t want to see will be very hurtful. Like, so unbelievably hurtful. Don’t do it.

4. Get out there

Whether it’s seeing your family more often, arranging dinner dates with your girlfriends, or joining a kickball league, get out there. Being social will help you remember that there is life outside of your failed relationship. It will also remind you of how much fun you can have.

5. New experiences

Go on adventures. Whether solo, with friends you’re re-connecting with, or new friends, just get out there and enjoy yourself. Life has so much to offer! When in a relationship for so long, trying new things that are outside of your comfort zone aren’t typically the norm. The newer the experience, the better.

6. Appreciate being single

Having the time to be single and flying solo is pretty rare, so enjoy it. Take it all in, utilize that time productively, and rediscover yourself. There’s nothing greater than focusing on your growth, your happiness, and your goals. Do you.

7. Find yourself

Ok, so listen up—this one is really important…

Take time to find yourself. While in relationships, we sometimes lose sight of who we are. Discover who you are as a whole, and not just as a half. What do you like to do? What makes you feel good? What’s on your bucket list? Do you want to travel? Cook? Fly a plane? Whatever it may be, get out there and do it. Push your limits, and figure out who you are and what you want…

8. Everything happens for a reason

We may not ever understand why certain things happen. What I know for sure is that everything happens for a reason. Life sometimes throws curveballs, and it’s usually because there’s something better on the other side. Go with the flow, and let life take you where you are meant to be.

9. Let it out

Whether talking to friends, seeing a therapist, or journaling, let it out. Part of healing is expressing your emotions. Whether through art, physical activity, writing, or talking, it’s all a form of expression. If you hold it all in, you’ll hinder yourself from truly moving forward. Not processing your feelings and working through the pain of a break-up can also negatively affect your future relationships. We all have the ability to cope in a positive and healthy way, and this really is a crucial step…

10. Love and forgiveness

While doing all of these listed above, don’t forget to love and forgive yourself. Often times, we blame ourselves for certain things. Remember, this break-up is not your fault. Sometimes two people aren’t meant to be together, and that’s okay.

Always, always, always, love yourself…

11. Take care of yourself

Above all else, take care of yourself. Be healthy—mind, body, and soul. Know that you have the ability to accomplish anything. You are enough, and you don’t need another half to feel whole. Remember, you are the priority.

Feel like some self-TLC will help you feel better? Check out some tips on how to better care of your body here!

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xx,

Paula

Nine Ways to Quit Negative Thinking

We all do it. It’s ok. I’m guilty of it too. Negative thinking is one of those things that happens, sometimes more often than not. It can be because you’re hard on yourself, because others are hard on you, or because life has previously handed you some super sour lemons. Regardless of the reason, negative thoughts can be all consuming

Again, having some negative thoughts is normal; you’re only human. Nothing is perfect all the time. However, this negativity can quickly become a habit, and change the way in which you perceive the world around you. How can you appreciate anything if everything around you is so terrible?

Negative thinking can cause a great deal of dissatisfaction, even if things are going pretty well, generally speaking. Nothing is good enough. You’re not good enough. Everything is shit. Life is shit. Everyone is horrible. Why is this happening?

Well, it’s happening because once you go down that road of negativity, you find yourself in a downward spiral. It’s moving quickly, and you’re not quite sure when it started, how it started, or how to get out of it. You are angry, and your outlook on life is one that is, for lack of a better word, unhealthy. It’s time to make a change…

Here’s your step-by-step guide to working through negative thinking:

1. Stop and breathe

When you find a negative thought coming on, stop, take a deep breath, and try to breakdown what makes this a bad thing. Once you’re able to identify what’s causing the thought, it will allow you to understand why you feel the way you do.

2. Challenge the negativity

Challenge that negative thought with a positive one. Once you’ve mastered step one listed above, you can take that negative thought and replace it with a positive one—if this is difficult at first, try replacing it with a neutral thought.

3. Look around

There are so many wonderful things in your life, and it’s important to identify a few positive things each day. Whether it’s how cute your dog is, to how amazing your SO is, or as simple as the plant on your kitchen counter that continues to bloom, take in the things that make life beautiful.

4. Know that you are enough

Positive affirmations are really important. Once you feel good about yourself, everything else will start to feel good too. As you’re getting ready for your day, say three positive things about yourself in the mirror. Do this each day for a few weeks, and you should begin to notice a change.

5. Do what you love

Bring joy into your life. The happier you are, the better life will feel. Do more of the things you love, with the people you love. Enjoy yourself.

6. Smile and welcome the unknown

Put your beautiful smile on, and be confident in the amazing things you bring to the world. Walk around with an open heart, and welcome what the world is offering you. Sometimes it’s the unexpected events that truly impact our lives for the better.

7. Acceptance

Accepting the things we cannot control, although easier said than done, will allow room for personal growth and the ability to appreciate things for what they are. Try to find the silver lining in every situation. It’s true that every bad comes with good, and vice versa.

8. Get your cleanse on

Misery loves company. If you want to make a positive change in your life, sometimes that means cleansing your life of all negative things…including people. Surround yourself with those who are positive, those who bring good to your life, and those who bring out the best in you…

9. Appreciate more

Appreciate the things life has provided you. Once you learn to let go of the negative thinking and focus on the positive things in your life, you will feel more fulfilled. With so much good, you will be less likely to focus on the negative things.

Focus on the good, challenge the negative, and remember all of the things you have been blessed with. Life is beautiful…

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xx,

Paula

The Fear of Loss and How To Cope

Love and loss. Have you ever loved someone so much that you can’t imagine life without them? So much that living in a world where they no longer existed just wouldn’t make sense? I have. It’s one of the most terrifying thoughts, but even worse, one of the most horrible things to experience. So, the question is, how would one cope with the fear of losing someone they love? Let’s talk about it…

When I was seven, my family and I unexpectedly lost my mother. Not only that, but I almost lost my life too. While growing up, I was always close to others, but never allowed myself to get too close. As I entered adulthood, I realized that this needed to change, and I had to learn to cope with the fear of letting someone in, loving them, and then potentially losing them out of nowhere.

Obviously, this was all driven by trauma and anxiety. Nonetheless, it didn’t make those feelings any less real. And I’ve come to find that as soon as I stop worrying, and feel safe, something happens. So basically, my fear also kicks in when I’m happy and not constantly feeling worried. How is that a way to live, you might ask? Yeah, I ask that too…

Just this last week my boyfriend had gone in for a very simple procedure, however, he did it across the country. Per usual, I was feeling worried, but very hopeful that the procedure would be successful.

I woke up to a text that all had gone well, and my babe sounded like his cheerful, normal self. I felt so much better, and was able to finally breathe. Then, I wake up the following morning to a text that he had fainted and was now in the ER. Literally, my world felt like it flipped upside down.

I was able to remain calm and ask for all the facts, but working in the medical field allowed my mind to wander to all of the worst case scenarios. Is this really happening? How serious is this? What if something happens to him? OMG, could I lose him?

I literally couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. The fear kicked in. I was in fight or flight.

Flight was not an option because I’m not that kind of person. So, fight it was.

Regardless of how much fight I had in me, I felt helpless. The fact that I was so far away was literally killing me. But worst of all was knowing that sometimes bad things happen and there’s nothing we can do about it.

So again, that fear of losing someone important kicks in, and it’s stronger than ever. What’s next?

So rather than drive myself crazy with fear, I focused on these ten things:

Some things are just out of your control

This is just the way life works. We can’t predict everything, and we can’t prepare for everything. No matter what you are capable of, certain things happening is inevitable.

Worry only about the things you need to worry about

You’ll literally drive yourself crazy worrying about every possibility. Yes, there are things to worry about—finances, possibly losing your job, when the next earthquake is coming—I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to let go and say goodbye to those worried thoughts.

Live

Because you don’t know what’s coming, live. Live and love as though it were your last day on earth. Enjoy your experiences and the time you spend with your loved ones, even if they’re not always the most pleasant. Know that the time you spent with each person is valued and special.

Say I love you

Tell the people you love that you love them. Often.

Stay positive

Make sure to end a conversation or interaction on a positive note—if something were to happen to that person, would you regret ending things the way you did?

Talk it out

Share your thoughts and tell the people you love how much they mean to you. Share the things you love most about them. Tell them how much joy they bring to your life.

No regrets

Live life to the fullest—I know, so cliché. Make sure to live in a way that will allow you to be proud of how you treated others and yourself. Again, if your life ended tomorrow, would you have any regrets?

Make amends

Loss isn’t just about losing people that are actively involved in your life; it can be the loss of someone you haven’t spoken to in years. Make amends. Don’t let important relationships end on bad terms. If not on a positive note, neutrality can be a good option.

Let go of the anger

People make mistakes, and it’s okay to be upset and angry. But after a while, you need to let it go. Not only for the sake of salvaging the relationship, but also because holding on to anger is not the healthiest thing. Let go, forgive, and move forward. 

Don’t worry until you have to

 Yeah, just don’t do it…

If you enjoyed this piece, check my article on how the secret to happiness is letting go!

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xx,

Paula