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  • Discover Freedom from the Cycle of Loneliness

    Do you struggle with boredom or emptiness? Do you frequently busy yourself to avoid being alone with your thoughts? These can be sneaky signs of loneliness which, left unchecked, can wreak havoc on all aspects of your health and well-being, finances, and relationships. 😥 Join me as I explore why our efforts to avoid loneliness often backfire and what we can do to genuinely connect with ourselves and others. Through my own experiences and hard-earned lessons, I’ll share how to break free from the cycle of loneliness and find true fulfillment. 🌟 There are many things you can do to feel better, like schedule more activities with people, travel, read, play games on your phone, get a new job, volunteer, etc. The options for connecting with people, engaging in meaningful activities, and having fun are endless. 💃🚴 I'm sure you could come up with many more ideas! But then, why are we in a loneliness epidemic? Why is it that, in a time with more options for connection than ever before, we are lonelier than ever? Why do so many people feel deeply lonely and go straight to the TV once they get back home from time with family or friends? Friend, can you relate? 🙋 Millions of people can too, and I used to as well. Many times our seemingly good and healthy activities can masquerade as distractions and don’t improve our long-term emotional well-being at all. When you engage in activities to avoid feeling lonely, you’ll find yourself on a hamster wheel of discontentment. 🐹 It’s not so much about what you’re doing but what your behavior is motivated by. Are you consciously or unconsciously motivated by the avoidance of pain? Are you trying to get away from your suffering? 🤔 Or is your behavior driven by what truly matters most to you? Is it a natural outgrowth of meaning and purpose? Are you pursuing connection because of something important to you?The first time I got married (at age 22), I did it because I didn’t want to feel left out among my friends and family who were getting married; I wanted to feel special and included. I didn’t want to be alone and I desperately wanted to feel like I belonged. I wanted to stop feeling lonely. Well, news flash, the marriage didn’t result in feeling any sense of belonging, connection, or inclusion. And it certainly didn’t resolve my loneliness. It only made matters worse. 😣 It’s so easy to get this mixed up. You have countless messages in your face everyday trying to convince you that some new solution will solve all of your problems and finally get you the peace you’re seeking. How about that weed control for your yard? Those people in the commercials look pretty relieved once those nasty weeds are gone. Whew! Thank goodness! Now they can go on living with all of their problems solved forever and ever. 😆 I mean, right?! This is what we see everyday. One.more.thing. that’s going to be the be-all-end-all of our problems. Gosh, I wish it were the case. Don’t you? I wish all of the fancy leather purses, the perfect gym body, the name brands, the people-pleasing… all of it… I, too, wish all of it could be the solution. It would be so easy! But it never is. 😪 Eventually the hamster wheel comes to a stop and you have to face the music. I finally got off my hamster wheel after the devastation of my second divorce. I slowly stopped chasing after more relationships to distract from my pain and loneliness. I stopped looking to substances to mask my lack of belonging, and I curtailed my out-of-control spending that I thought was making me happy. Does this mean I’ve stopped having fun or doing all distracting things? Gosh no. I’m still a human on planet earth. I love chocolate, time with friends, and buying new pens and planners. 📔🖊️ ✅ But, I’m no longer primarily motivated by pain avoidance. That’s the difference. When you change your relationship with your suffering (your loneliness) it no longer controls you or runs your life. You get back in the driver seat; your life and relationships begin to flourish in a whole new way. You get freedom. 🌟 Friend, what hamster wheel are you on? What are you repeatedly chasing after that never leaves you feeling really satisfied? What’s creating a wedge in your relationships? What are you pursuing that only brings short-term relief? I want to know what you're chasing after that never leaves you satisfied. More importantly, I want to know: what do you really want? Let’s work together to create the meaningful peace, purpose, and connection you want and deserve. Book a free support session today to get started. I’d love to connect with you. Would you like to receive weekly encouragement and support from me? Click the button below to subscribe. (you can unsubscribe at any time but I hope you'll stick around) Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. << Click Here to Get Your Free Mini-Journaling Course >> I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to schedule a free support session with me and I'll help you assess what you're needing.

  • Take Back Your Power & Reclaim Your Emotional Well-Being

    Do you ever feel frustrated or disappointed when people in your life don’t behave how you want them to? How often do you get attached to how you think someone should or shouldn't be behaving or responding to you? If you've ever felt frustrated, annoyed, or angry because someone is behaving so differently from what you want or expect, number one: you're a normal human; number two: stick with me. I'm going to talk about how to stop putting your emotional well-being purely in the hands of others and how to take back your power. This can save you from the clutches of chronic loneliness. A Muddy Road In the classic Zen koan (a Buddhist story similar to a parable) entitled, “Muddy Road,” Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. "Come on, girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?" "I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?" Who are you carrying? Whose behavior in your life is taking up so much of your energy and attention that it’s practically making you sick? Is it your ex or someone you're interested in? Whose actions are keeping you in a perpetual state of anxiety or frustration? Is it your parents or children? Who is making you feel overlooked, disrespected, or discarded? Is it the friend group that you no longer feel connected to or is it your boss? When you focus more on other people’s behavior, you give away your power. Ekido was so consumed by his judgment of Tanzan’s actions; it was his own thinking, not Tanzan's behavior, that was causing his suffering. We can just imagine him walking back to the monastery, seething inside with a tight chest, tension in his body, and tunnel vision. He was caught up in his mind, disconnected from himself, and no longer present. How often do you give away your emotional well-being to other people’s behavior? When our focus is outward, our sense of “okayness” is precarious because it’s dependent on other people behaving as we expect or want. That’s like entrusting your peace to the weather. Your emotional well-being affects everything—your sleep, eating habits, exercise habits, self-perception, spending habits, goal pursuits, and of course, your actions and feelings in relationships. You wouldn't want to leave these important pieces of your emotional well-being up to something as fluid and unpredictable as the weather. Your emotional well-being also impacts the type of people you attract people into your life and the extent to which you push people away. The more you focus on outward judgment, the more likely you are to feel lonely. Getting caught in judging other people’s behavior often leads to a sense of separation and disconnection. Do you know anyone who is always focused on other people and is a very peaceful person? It’s pretty rare. Instead, you’ll see their mood fluctuate depending on how they are judging the people’s behavior. I will be the first to admit that I unconsciously lived my life this way for a long time. But I’m not perfect and I’m not done growing. I still get caught in this pattern sometimes, after all, I’m only human. However, years of mindfulness practice has significantly reduced this tendency and I’m more likely to catch myself when it happens. How about for you? How often do you find yourself focusing on other people’s behavior? Do you usually feel content, satisfied, or neutral? Or, do you feel frustrated, disappointed, or downright angry? If your experience is the latter, I’m here for you. And I’ve got a solution. Take back your power by connecting inward first. Meaning, connect with your feelings, needs, values, and desires beneath the chatter of your mind. When you take back your power, your emotional well-being isn’t tied to other people’s behavior because it's tied to your ability to stay true to yourself and control your own behavior. This protects you from chronic disconnection and loneliness. When you connect with yourself first, you lead from the inside out; you become an actor rather than a reactor. You become the hero of your life rather than a victim waiting for someone else to save you. If you want to start getting connected from the inside out, sign up for free my Journaling Mini-Course. I'll send you a free guide that will walk you through exactly how to get started with a journaling practice, how to overcome obstacles, and I'll give you journaling prompts that foster self-discovery so that you never have to fear a blank page. Would you like to receive weekly encouragement and support from me? Click the button below to subscribe. (you can unsubscribe at any time but I hope you'll stick around) Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. << Click Here to Get Your Free Mini-Journaling Course >> I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to schedule a free support session with me and I'll help you assess what you're needing.

  • 5 Life Changing Mental Health Tools

    Do you wish you had some simple tools to help you feel better? It's "Maycember" and when the stress and chaos of life looms large, self-care often takes a backseat especially if you have littles in your life. Yet, amidst the chaos, there are simple, yet profoundly impactful tools that can serve as beacons of solace and strength. In this article, I provide you with 5 simple, free yet powerful and effective tools for managing your mental health. From the soothing embrace of visualization to the tender touch of self-love, these practices offer not just momentary reprieve, but enduring pathways to inner peace and well-being. 5 Life Changing Mental Health Tools 1) Visualizing a peaceful scene When you close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful scene, your brain lights up as if you are actually in that scenario. Isn't that cool? With these neural pathways activated, your body releases good-feeling endorphins which reduces stress, increases calm, enhances focus and concentration, and can help you to feel more confident. 2) Giving yourself a hug or gentle touch One of my favorite self-soothing strategies that I learned from Dr. Kristin Neff, PhD, LP, who is a psychologist, researcher, associated professor at University of Texas-Austin, and expert on Self-Compassion, is to give yourself gentle and soothing touch, such as gently rubbing your hands on your arm, your leg, or placing your hand over your heart or caressing your face. Doing this actually helps release oxytocin, the love hormone. When no one else is around, giving yourself loving physical touch can help you feel soothed and loved. 3) Breathe through your nose Forget about always needing to count your breathing (although it's pretty helpful) and focus more on inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Nose breathing isn't just good for your mental health but it's also great for your medical health. (Because, truly, mental health and medical health are one in the same!) Nose breathing lowers your blood pressure, it helps to regulate your nervous system (which makes you feel calm), it delivers more oxygen to your working muscles, it helps to calm your mind, improve sleep, and so many other benefits. Learn more here: https://oxygenadvantage.com/science/nose-breathing-vs-mouth-breathing/ 4) Talk to yourself in a loving manner Talking lovingly to yourself releases "feel good" hormones like oxytocin (the love hormone), dopamine, and endorphins. Better yet, it's totally free and available in endless quantities. All you have to do is talk to yourself like someone you dearly love - or - imagine someone (such as a family member, dear friend, or spiritual figure) talking to you as if they deeply love and cherish you. 5) Practice prayer or affirmations But not just any prayer, internally guided prayer. Meaning, you are relying on your internal thoughts and feelings to guide your communication with your spiritual connection. When you practice internally guided prayer, you activate parts of your brain that promote self-reflection, insight, and the sense that you are a divine being. Isn't that cool? You're brain is wired for spirituality. If you want to nerd out on the research, you can read about it here. Bonus Did you know that the U.S. now has a national mental health and suicide crisis line? If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can dial 9-8-8 from anywhere in the U.S., 24/7, to get connected to your local crisis center and receive free and confidential support. You can learn more about it here: https://988lifeline.org/. If you would like some help or guidance with practicing prayer, check out my free mini-course >> From Loneliness to Love. I'll send you an email every day for 5 days with affirmations and prayers designed to help you attract the love and connection your heart longs for. Would you like to receive weekly encouragement from me? Subscribe to receive a personal note from me each week, be the first to know when I publish a new blog article or have an upcoming event; receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else. Sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to schedule a free support session with me and I'll help you assess what you're needing.

  • What To Do When You're Never Satisfied

    Do you ever find yourself struggling with discontent? Just this underlying dissatisfaction with your life? I’ve spent decades chasing after more and better. And you know what? That rat race makes me feel burned out, disconnected, and lonely. And then I’ll blame the people or circumstances around me for it. Pretty spiritual, right? Sound familiar? C'mon, you know you've done it too. You won't get any judgement from me. But, I've learned how to approach my discontent in a way that can bring sheer bliss. And I want to share that with you. Sometimes an outward change is necessary. So far in my life, I’ve been able to make changes to satisfy my unrest or my longings. I don’t think it’s all bad. Many times I believe that I’m genuinely responding to a call from within that’s more aligned with who God wants me to be and how God wants me to be in this world. Yes, sometimes that nagging feeling you have inside is legitimately calling you to make a change, learn, or grow by going back to school, starting a new job, ending that bad relationship, or making that move you've been thinking about for months. But sometimes you're simply caught in restless angst. You know that feeling of being unsettled or ill at ease without knowing exactly why? It’s like an internal itch that you're trying to scratch by changing something on the outside (or eating more cookies) and it just never quite satisfies the itch. Can you relate? I know without a doubt there’s going to come a time when you or I can’t change things on the outside to satisfy an unrest on the inside. I’ve been there before, I’ll be there again. And I know you have too. And at some point, those limits are only going to multiply and we'll have two options: to fight against the reality of life's limits and increase our suffering, or to accept our limits and sink into our feelings with presence and compassion. I suppose there’s a third option of getting lost in a drunken stupor but that’s not really me. And I hope it's not you. This is exactly why I need silent meditation retreats. Have you ever been? When I was more formally practicing Zen Buddhism at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center (MZMC), I used to attend group meditation retreats more often. Now I really enjoy solo retreats. I purposefully schedule solo, silent meditation retreats every so often because they force me to stop doing and to stop chasing better and more; they help me focus inward rather than being focused on others around me. I don't know about you but I know that if I'm not careful, I can become way to focused on everyone else but myself. And not in a helpful way. Several years ago I was on a silent retreat at MZMC in early December for Rohatsu - the annual observation of Buddha’s enlightenment. The full retreat is a total of seven days but I attended for four, which was the max I could do without interfering with my custody schedule. It was pretty cold. The nearby lake was beginning to freeze and the neighborhood was decorated for Christmas. Silent meditation retreats create space for inward connection. A multi-day Zen retreat is much like going into a sensory deprivation chamber; you spend a lot of time staring at a blank wall or at the floor and make every attempt to avoid eye contact with other people so that you even avoid non-verbal communication. I know, extreme, right? It's all by design -- to keep your focus inward. Some people choose to take breaks and go outside, but for this retreat I was purposefully staying inside to really limit my sensory experience. I was going “all in” with the limited time I had. (I know, I'm so Type-A!) The first couple of days were hard. Yes there were times that I felt extreme boredom, restlessness, and a lot of discontent. However, I think my most challenging moment was an evening where I was struggling with holding back hysterical laughter. Yes, hysterical laughter. Honestly, that may have been the hardest moment. I have absolutely no clue why I was laughing so hard, it just hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't want to disrupt anyone else's zazen (zen meditation). I just know that if you sit and stare at a well for several days straight, you’re going to feel everything. If you are compassionately present to your discomfort long enough, there is a peaceful bliss available to you on the other side. By the third night, I felt more settled. More still. I felt like I got below the noise and muck of my mind. I felt called to venture outside. Y’all, I was awestruck. I had completely forgotten it was the Christmas season (heck, I forgot it was winter). When I saw the city lights, it was as if I had never seen civilization before. I was smiling from ear to ear in wonder and amazement. I felt profoundly connected to and grateful for everything. Not a speck of discontent in my entire being. Imagine being 5 years old and getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas from the real Santa Claus. I imagine my experience is what that that 5-year-old would feel like. Do you know this feeling? Sadly, you cannot live in perpetual bliss. Say it ain’t so! Yes, it’s true. Although the immersive experience of a multi-day silent retreat can lead to big and profound spiritual experiences of connection and presence, you cannot stay in that space forever. You wouldn’t be able to function or really live your life. And if you began to chase the emotional high of an opening experience, well then you’ve fallen back in the trap of chasing better and more. Drat! However, retreats are not the only way to strengthen your spiritual muscles for being more present. Just having the intention to be more present is huge. Start by objectively observing your thoughts, as if they were dust particles floating across the room. Let them float on by. Take any inanimate object, or the wall, and look at it for even just 3 minutes and practice returning your attention to this item over and over. Incorporate prayer to feel connected and soothed. It’s not so much that prayer makes any of your unpleasant feelings go away, but prayer helps you to embrace them; to hold them with compassion and to feel soothed. And from a neurological standpoint, when you practice internally guided prayer with loving and compassionate language, you activate parts of the brain that help with self-soothing and your body releases helpful and good-feeling hormones, like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Isn’t that amazing? Your body is already equipped with everything you need to feel content and soothed. Nowadays, when my restlessness and discontent comes up, I try to be compassionately present to it and then turn inward and pray, “God, will you please meet me where I’m at? Will you please help me bring love to this part of me that feels so empty and unsatisfied? Will you help me feel meaning in what is already here, and help me feel entirely connected to you and all that is around me? Please bring clarity to this unrest. Thank you for holding me in this.” Is there a prayer or practice that helps you become more present or soothed amidst your own discontentedness or unrest? I’d love to know. If you would like some help or guidance with practicing prayer, check out my free, 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love. I'll send you an email every day for 5 days with affirmations and prayers designed to help you attract the love and connection your heart longs for. Would you like to receive weekly encouragement from me? Subscribe to receive a personal note from me each week, be the first to know when I publish a new blog article or have an upcoming event; receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else. Sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to schedule a free support session with me and I'll help you assess what you're needing.

  • 7 Reasons Why Journaling Is Good For Your Health

    Have you been intending to start a journal for years but just haven't gotten around to it? Or have you started in the past but just couldn't stick with it? I'm here to give you a little encouragement to pickup that pen and paper and start journaling. If you're feeling stressed, stuck, or overwhelmed, journaling may be your ticket to freedom. For decades, I've maintained a journaling practice that has been instrumental in my personal growth, healing, and self-discovery. What started as an organic need to jot down my thoughts as a child, likely stemming from my own childhood loneliness, has evolved into a cherished practice that I credit with supporting my own resilience and insight. There was something so alluring about a little book with a lock. Do you remember those? I especially remember the ones that would always be for sale in those school fundraisers catalogs. I could just write down all of my thoughts in there and it would only be between me and the book and I could safely tuck it away. Nowadays, I don’t bother locking away or hiding my journals. I feel free to let them sit out in the open. My family knows that if they go browsing through something that they shouldn’t be going through, the consequences are theirs and theirs alone. My journal is and always will be a safe space for my thoughts, reflections, pains, hopes, and dreams. I want that kind of freedom for you too because the benefits of journaling are too good and too many to pass up. Here are 7 reasons why journaling is good for your health... 1. Stress Reduction and Enhancing Well-being The benefits of journaling are expansive, beginning with its ability to alleviate stress. By providing a safe space to express and process your thoughts and feelings, journaling can act like a release valve for the pressures of daily life. This reduction in stress has far-reaching implications for overall well-being, including: improved sleep, reduced muscle tension, improved mood, improved relationships, lower blood pressure, improved health, better weight management, and the list goes on and on. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart talking about the benefits of journaling from a neurological perspective. 2. Gaining Perspective Through Reflection Maintaining a regular journaling practice can help you develop new perspectives. When you write down your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and later review them, you can get a sense about the accuracy of your perceptions and also any patterns that may be unhelpful. Were you seeing things clearly or were you jumping to conclusions? Do you tend to respond to your strong emotions with helpful or unhelpful behaviors? This can be helpful for building trust in your intuition or gaining clarity on your inner voices of anxiety or criticism. Dr. Tara Swart also touches on the benefits of this reflective piece in the link above. 3. Emotional Processing and Recognizing Needs Journaling can be a helpful tool for becoming aware of your feelings and processing your emotions. You can begin to recognize how your feelings feel in your body. Remember, feelings are physical. They live in your body but we interpret and understand them with our mind. Journaling can help you better understand and tease apart your emotions. What’s underneath them? What might be triggering them? This gives you an opportunity to consider what you might be needing and/or what environmental changes might need to be made. If you can understand your emotions, you can communicate them and manage them, which helps you to get your needs met and maintain healthy relationships. 4. Living Authentically Journaling can help unearth your hidden desires, dreams, values or even fears; things that perhaps have been lurking under the surface of awareness for a long time or maybe even things you never knew existed within you. It can help you clarify what matters most to you so that you can live your life according to what matters most to you. The more you write, the more you discover. Which means, the more you get to be authentically you and live in alignment with who you truly are. Fewer things help you sleep better at night than knowing that you are living a life that is true to yourself. 5. Cultivating Gratitude When expressing thoughts and feelings about events or experiences that frustrate you or leave you feel worried or upset, it can also be helpful to give equal attention to what you appreciate, what you are grateful for, and what goodness you do see within the situation. The research and reported benefits of cultivating gratitude is vast. From boosting happiness to reducing stress and mental illness, developing a simple gratitude practice in your journal could add years to your life. 6. Improved Communication Beyond its therapeutic benefits, journaling can bolster your relational, academic and professional success by honing your communication and writing skills. If you don’t regularly journal already and if you don’t regularly need to write for work or school, there may be few opportunities for you to really develop your thoughts and put them in writing. Journaling is an amazing outlet for improving your ability to express yourself clearly. 7. Coping with Loneliness When you are alone and have no one to talk to, your journal is always there for you. You can write as if you are talking to a good friend, a lost loved one, your Higher Guidance, a past therapist, or anyone that would help bring you some comfort. Personally, I just prefer to write to myself or God. Truly, just by connecting with your own thoughts and feelings by writing them down is meeting your need for being seen, heard, and understood. This can absolutely help to soften or soothe feelings of loneliness, make you feel more connected, and create more freedom in your relationships. Wrapping it Up Journaling is not just a simple writing exercise nor is it a trite activity done by little children in their dear diaries. It's also not something that has a "right way" or a "wrong way." Try to be patient and kind with yourself as you get started. Journaling is a sacred and timeless practice of self-discovery, growth, healing, and empowerment. By providing a safe space for reflection, you can give yourself the gift of stress reduction, improved health and emotional well-being, and freedom. ---> I hope you'll give journaling a try and let me know how it goes! Become an insider to be the first to know when I publish a new blog article or have an upcoming event; receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else. Sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to book a free call.

  • Always Comparing Yourself To Others? Stop Making This Mistake.

    Ever felt like your family just doesn't fit the mold? The pressure to measure up to seemingly perfect families can feel suffocating and impossible, especially for those whose family dynamics have shifted unexpectedly due to divorce or loss. But here's the kicker: trying to stop comparing yourself to others is a losing battle. I’m going to tell you why and I’m going to show you a better way, one that’s backed by neuroscience. During the Christmas of 2016, I took my son to a tree lighting ceremony in a nearby suburb. It had the quaint charm of a small-town that made me feel like we were in a Hallmark movie (I know, they are so fake and cheesy but I still love them!). The only problem was that I felt like we were all alone in a crowd. Just the two of us surrounded by seemingly happy families enjoying their holidays together. I felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong. I did my best to put on my happy face and try to create a fun holiday memory for my son who was four at the time. I felt like I was drowning in thoughts of comparison. It was so painful, I could feel it in my body. Oddly enough, he has no conscious recollection of any of it. But it's actually a fond memory to me now because I was consciously living into my values and stepping way outside of my comfort zone. The perception that everyone else is happier or other families are better than yours can feel heavy, painful, and very real when your family no longer looks how you wanted or expected it to look. It can make you feel isolated and alone, like your family doesn’t fit in anymore. Like you don’t fit anymore. Feeling inferior to other families that appear happy can be a common struggle for divorced parents or any family system that has shifted in a way they never anticipated. While it's important to remember that appearances can be deceiving, it’s more important to understand that you have so much more power over your experience of reality than you think you do. With summertime family activities right around the corner, that part of you, the part that compares yourself to others (usually negatively) could be on the verge of a feeding frenzy. But I’m going to help you head it off with a proven method to help you cope with the situation and come out feeling happier and more satisfied with the precious life and family you already have. Forget the idea that you should stop comparing yourself to others. Wait, what? I know, I know. It seems backwards. But stick with me. It’s not going to happen. Trying to stop comparing yourself to others is the biggest mistake you could make. And if you do try to make it happen, you're going to send yourself down a trail of self-denial and disconnection, which makes you feel worse and more lonely. Seriously my friend, save yourself the heartache, frustration, and wasted time. Trying to stop comparing yourself to others is a fool's errand. Your mind has been wired for comparison. Here’s why you shouldn’t try to stop comparing. Your mind has been so conditioned for years and years to compare yourself to others. Sometimes you might do it in a way that makes you feel good about yourself but most of the time the comparison just makes you feel bad about yourself and makes you think you’re not measuring up. The way that you compare yourself to others has been influenced by your family, close social circles (the ones you grew up with and the ones you’re in now), the culture messages you received, and the brain wiring you were born with as a human. I don’t know about you but I got the message that I was supposed to marry young, have 2-3 kids, be a stay-at-home-mom, and become an expert pie baker. Which effectively means I should have been an exact replica of my grandma. I chuckle… Think about it. How often was your performance compared in school? How often did you feel compared to your sibling(s) or cousin(s)? How often do you compare yourself to the images in magazines, social media, and movies? How often do you compare the contents of your grocery cart with other peoples’ grocery carts? How often have you compared yourself to your grandparents? How often do you compare yourself to anything or anyone that is living the way you really want to be living or really don’t want to be living? It’s constant. Trying to stop your mind from comparing is like trying to stop the tide. The forces that have conditioned your mind to socially compare are wildly outside of your control. It comes back to nature (the predispositions and instincts you were born with) and nurture (the environment(s) in which you were raised). Truly, your mind compares because you are alive, because you are human, and because you want to survive and thrive. Comparison is the product of your comparing-mind. This is a term I learned while studying and formally practicing Zen Buddhism at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, MN for nearly a decade. It’s the part of your mind that instantly and automatically compares yourself to others and makes a split-second judgment regarding whether you’re measuring up or not. Comparing mind can make you feel inferior or superior to others. From a Buddhist perspective, either way, it’s all smoke and mirrors with no substantive truth. Both sides of the comparison coin ultimately add to your suffering. Comparing mind is not a scientific label but it’s a way you can recognize a function of your mind and to see it not as containing the truth of the matter but that it’s merely performing a function that’s trying to keep you safe and secure in your social system. That’s where neuroscience comes in. It is in the nature of your mind to compare. You can’t just get rid of the tendency to compare. I’m sorry but you can’t just let it go, as Elsa would have you believe. It is wired into your brain and has well-worn neural pathways that operate very efficiently like going down a speed slide. Your mind is always scanning and making comparative judgements within the context of your social environment because you are a social mammal. Comparison is not all bad, it’s actually really important in many ways. Comparison provides an efficient strategy to make quick decisions and perform complex tasks. In the social context, your mind is often scanning for validation that indicates “you’re in,” in which case you’re good and safe, or that would indicate, “you’re out,” in which case, you better course correct so that you can continue to get your needs met. But here’s the thing, while comparison does have some important functions for us, it also can cause a lot of needless suffering. And can we both agree that this part of your mind is causing you a tremendous amount of pain and suffering? It’s important to recognize when your comparing mind is helping you or hurting you; when it motivates you to positive change or helps you make decisions, and when it keeps you feeling inferior, unlovable, and painfully lonely. The good news: you can change your relationship with your comparing mind. What you can do is become familiar with your comparing mind, recognize and acknowledge the thoughts when they show up, and then choose your actions based on your values. The situation may or may not call for your comparing mind to be in the driver’s seat. Do you value kindness? Then respond to yourself with kindness. Do you value acceptance? Then respond to yourself with acceptance. Do you value loving relationships? Then respond to the situation in a way that encourages loving relationships, including with yourself. You get the idea. And surround yourself with people who respond to you in kind. What you practice grows stronger. Every time your comparing mind shows up and tells you that you don’t measure up, and you believe it, you strengthen that thought pattern; you strengthen that neural pathway. You are in effect practicing comparison. That’s what we do when we’re living on auto pilot. Eesh. When you commit to always responding to yourself in a way that’s based on your values, then that is what grows stronger. Overtime, the new emotional-behavioral patterns can sort of take over the old ones. It’s like trying to change the flavor profile of a sourdough starter. If you start with rye flour, it will have a strong flavor of rye flour. But if slowly over time you begin using white flour, the flavor profile will neutralize. The rye flavor will never be gone entirely but it will be less and less. That’s how it works with changing the patterns of your mind. The old patterns never leave entirely, but over time and with practice, they lose their strength and hold on you while the new ones gain much more power and influence. Due to practice, your brain develops more efficient neural pathways for the new behavior. You get to decide what you want to practice. My friend, you don’t have to keep operating on autopilot. You don’t have to live under the thumb of your comparing mind. That’s a painful existence and you deserve better. You can be intentional about what thought and behavioral patterns you do practice so that you can feel the way you want to feel. I don’t know about you but I like feeling peace. And the relationship you develop with your mind has the most powerful influence over feeling peace. How would you like to feel? Your family is beautiful as it is. Take a moment and just consider: what would it be like to imagine that your family, just as it is, perfectly meets the definition of family simply because it exists. Family’s have taken many shapes and sizes since the beginning of time. Even in the wild, animal family systems can look wildly different from one species to the next and even within a species. It took me a long time to see that when it was just me and my son, our dog and fish, we were a complete family. I thought I needed to wait to do family activities, family photos, or develop new family traditions until we were a more "complete" family with two parents. This is not the case. Your family is yours. And you get to design a beautiful family life exactly as it is. It’s time to stop giving your precious energy and time to those thoughts of comparison and start giving all of your energy and time to what matters most to you. What do you want your family to be about? What are the values you hold dear? What sounds fun to you? What sounds meaningful? What kind of memories do you want to make? Then go do that. When you can finally let that comparing mind float on by like clouds in the sky, suddenly your life becomes a beautiful work of art that is being created and co-created according to what deeply matters most to you and the ones you love. What could be more important? ---> How has comparison hurt or helped you? What helps you overcome comparison? Feel free to share in the comments. I'd be happy to hear from you. Become an insider to be the first to know when I publish a new blog article or have an upcoming event; receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else. Sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to book a free call.

  • Coping with the Loneliness of Grief

    Have you felt lost and alone after losing a partner or loved companion Whether you’ve lost your partner to divorce, death, or debilitating physical or mental illness, the grief that follows can feel overwhelmingly painful and lonely. I’m here to help guide you through coping with the loneliness of grief. Losing a beloved companion can leave you feeling like there's a gaping hole in your heart; a void that seems like it will never be filled again. And, in some ways, you’ll probably always feel that hole in your heart. Even if there was turbulence or hardship in the relationship, loss is loss. No other person or relationship could ever replace the person, relationship, or the dreams you had for that relationship. It is truly a loss that you feel forever. And… and, I know without a doubt that your heart can heal and that you can feel love even in that very space that feels totally empty. And I am absolutely convinced that this loss can end up being just the thing that draws you nearer to love; perhaps closer than you ever felt before or have ever imagined. Loneliness, in the aftermath of loss, can feel all-encompassing. Losing a companion feels like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you. Depending on how emotionally invested you were in the relationship, it can feel like you can’t breathe and your body just hurts everywhere, because feelings are physical. Both the pain and the utter disbelief can be so entirely disorienting that you just can’t think straight for days, weeks, or more. It can literally throw you into a survival mode. That’s because we are social mammals who are wired for connection. As much as we might intellectually know that we will eventually lose everything or everyone that we love, there is just always a part of us, wired deep into our subconscious and perhaps into our nervous system, that just does not expect anything to change. Ever. I believe this is why there is an enormous body of research on the benefits of “radical acceptance”, a term coined by Marsha Linehan, creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Your feelings are entirely normal. Every single emotion you feel is one-hundred percent normal, valid, and true. Remember, your feelings are physical. They are just sensations in the body that either feel pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. By and large, your feelings are the result of conscious or unconscious thoughts, interpretations, memories, or perceptions. Some of those are within your control and so many (perhaps most) are not. This is why you can’t really choose or control your feelings. Especially in the wake of grief. Your feelings can motivate you to take action in some form or another or they can motivate you to stay put. Either way, your feelings are never bad, wrong, or otherwise invalid. If this is hard to accept (as it was for me for many years), I encourage you to write it down someplace where you’ll see it often and practice radical acceptance. You can feel multiple feelings at the same time. As if feeling deeply sad or lonely wasn’t hard enough, it’s also totally normal to feel a multitude of emotions at the exact same time. This is what makes grief grief and this is what makes grief so overwhelming and all-encompassing. Part of what makes grieving so lonely is that no other person will experience it just as you are. Even if you are grieving the loss of the same person or relationship as someone else, you will still have different experiences. You may share the general experience of grief, but the flavor will be uniquely yours and yours alone. And this is exactly why it’s so important to not shame, blame, or minimize yourself for having any or all of the feelings. These internal behaviors cause internal disconnection and deeper loneliness. Instead, we need to meet our feelings, all of our feelings, with radical acceptance and then loving-kindness. Again, easier said than done, I know. But practice makes progress. There is no such thing as a normal, grieving timeline. As you’re beginning to see, your feelings can have a mind of their own, heck, even your mind can have a mind of its own. This is why it’s so important to not put your grieving on a timeline or to let anyone else think that your grieving should be on a timeline. Any timeline of grief is an absolute myth. Yes, we can reasonably expect that the early days, weeks, and months will likely be more painful than later times. However, pain can persist and even surge at predictable and entirely unpredictable times. Because, remember, our feelings are activated by conscious and unconscious thoughts or external cues (things outside of you). There are no “shoulds” when it comes to grief. We have a funny little saying in the therapy world, maybe you’ve heard some version of it: Don’t should all over yourself. Right? Clever. But it’s so true. I really wish we could do away with the shoulds in all aspects of our lives. It just causes us so much needless suffering by setting us up for false expectations or comparisons. I lived under the debilitating pressure of should for so much of my life. I’m not 100% free of it but it’s a lot less than it used to be. And there’s just no place for it in grief. I want you to remember that should = shame. Everytime you should all over yourself, you’re likely triggering shame, which generally makes you feel worse and more lonely. Just say “no” to should. Your grief journey is uniquely yours and valid. My friend, I know just how easy it is to look at other people who have had a significant loss and think, “they’re doing better than I am,” or “why have they bounced back so quickly?” Just like you are unique, your journey is also unique. Just like you are valid, your journey is valid. Just like you are special, sacred, and exactly as you are meant to be, so too is your journey. This is where it’s so important to watch those pesky thoughts of comparison or judgment and let them float on by like clouds in the sky. Then place your hand on your heart and remind yourself, “My experience is exactly right for me. Thank you for loving me and taking care of me.” You get to set new boundaries. Because your unique feelings and journey are so entirely valid, it’s important to pay attention to who else in your life honors your experience as well. There may be some people who are willing to accept and meet you where you’re at, and of course many may not have the capacity to. You probably have run into some people who challenge your feelings, wonder aloud when you’ll get over it, encourage you to look on the bright side, be grateful, or otherwise happy that x, y, or z. Worse yet, some people may actually blame or shame you for feeling or thinking the way you do. Whoever adds to your pain needs a boundary, at least for now. Meaning, you share less with them and perhaps spend less time with them. Remember, boundaries are about managing your own behavior and communicating your needs and requests. Boundaries are not about telling others what to do. When you are deeply wounded, it’s better to minimize contact with people who will emotionally take you down further than you already are, even if it’s someone that you thought you were very close to. There is no such thing as moving on. A part of me wants to say that I wish we could easily move on. But there’s a deeper part of me that doesn’t. That deeper part of me knows that this experience is happening because you loved. Because you are human. Because you hoped and dreamed. And because the grief experience holds the real possibility of sinking even deeper into love than ever before. Loneliness isn’t the end game. No, you don’t move on. You carry your grief forward. You learn how to nurture it and yourself. You learn how to take needed breaks from it. You may try to suppress it for a little while until it comes out sideways and you remember to tend to it again. One step at a time, one day at a time, we learn to live with our grief. You deserve loving-kindness. I know you are kind hearted and it’s important to you to treat others the way you want to be treated. I have no doubt this is important to you. But my friend, it’s also important to treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Whether you believe it or not, I’m here to tell you that you are always deserving of loving-kindness from yourself just as much as you are deserving to receive it from others, and just as much as you believe others deserve it from you. And when you know that you will have your own back no matter what, you can experience deep peace and freedom. Can you believe it? If you can’t, you can borrow my conviction for now. I believe it 100%. An inner source of love is always there for you. If you have a hard time extending loving-kindness to yourself, try connecting with your unique inner source of love. I promise you have one. For some people it’s God, or The Universe, Divine Goddess, Buddha, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Mother Nature, or another name. Maybe for you it’s just the value of love or kindness itself, the support of community, or the memory of your grandmother or grandfather. Or maybe it’s your beloved pet. You were created from the fabric of love. Love is the very essence of your being. As my favorite Zen teacher used to remind me (very frequently), you are not just lovable but you are love. It took me a while to realize and feel that truth. I couldn’t think my way to believing it. I needed to feel my way there. With time and practice, you can too. Your lost relationship was not the source of your love. The person you loved, and still love, was not the source of your love. They triggered your feelings of love. Which means that love is, and has always been, already within you. You can trust yourself. You have been through so much. You can trust that you will get through this. You can trust that you can keep going. You can trust that you have everything you need to feel good, whole, and connected. You can trust your inner source of love. You can trust that those feelings of love you felt before are still within you and you can trust you will feel them again. And if you struggle to feel confident in that trust, you can borrow mine until yours is there. You get to redefine what matters most to you. You’re living in a new landscape now. And you get to decide how that landscape looks and feels. You get to shape a new life and reality for yourself. What matters most to you in this new season? What do you want your life to be about from now on? Even if you can only think about this one day at a time, what do you want your life to represent today? It’s your one and precious life. You, and only you, get to decide what matters most to you and what you want to attract into your life going forward. You have permission to feel happy again. No matter what the nature of your loss, you deserve to experience joy in your life again. If you struggle to give yourself permission due to guilt or shame or fear, you can take it from me. I give you permission (even though you don’t need my permission). You have permission to create new joyful memories. To laugh again. To forget about the pain. To laugh in the pain. To remember good times and hard times. You have permission to feel gratitude when it feels genuine. Not because you should feel gratitude; but only when it genuinely arises out of extending loving-kindess to yourself. Then, I know you will feel happy again. Losing a close companion, whether to divorce, death, illness, or otherwise, is always complex. It can leave you riddled with a mixed bag of emotions and a big dose of loneliness. Because you are the only one who will ever truly know your experience. But when you commit to practice responding to yourself with loving-kindness, and connecting with your inner source of love, you have the capacity to always (or nearly always) feel deeply connected, valued, and loved. To be notified when I publish a new article, hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to book a free call.

  • How Single Parents Can Stay Social on a Tight Budget

    One of the many hard parts of becoming a single parent after divorce is not just the loss of the primary relationship but also the loss of relationships that are connected to the relationship. Moreover, most newly divorced are facing a tighter budget than ever before, making it hard to go out and have fun, especially if there are kids in the mix. Being able to remain socially connected is crucial for healing and rebuilding a new life, so all the more reason to learn how to do so while on a tight budget. That's why I'm sharing 25 strategies for single parents to stay social after divorce while on a tight budget. This was so fun to write, I hope you enjoy it! We Need Relationships Like We Need Oxygen If you're at all familiar with my work, you know how much I place priority on self-love and inner-connection. However, that's only part of the wellness pie. While inner-connection provides the foundation for developing more authentic, deeper, and meaningful relationships, inner-connection and practices of self-love cannot ever fully replace relationships with other people. After all, we are social mammals. We can survive without relationships but we won't thrive. I know firsthand just how hard it is to develop new relationships in adulthood, especially after divorce. I've done it twice. I don't know where you're from but I'm from Minnesota where people tend to keep their relationships for a long time and usually they begin in childhood or are centered around family. That can wreak havoc on your social circle if you break-out of the social paradigm or interpersonal dynamics in which you were raised (i.e. you start behaving differently from the group). Your Ability to Stay Social Shouldn't Depend on Your Budget Developing new relationships after divorce is especially challenging when you are likely living on a much tighter budget than you used to. You're not in school anymore where it's easy to build new relationships due to proximity. However, lack of money doesn't need to get in the way. Staying socially connected isn't a luxury or just for those who are in college, have a large budget, or close family network. Many of these are strategies I have done myself and some are recommendations I found in my research. However, it is for the brave. Building New Relationships Requires Courage and Determination, But It's Worth It. I'm going to be honest. If you're anything like me, introverted and blessed with (recovering) social-anxiety, these strategies are hard. They take a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, to challenge the usual stories in your mind, and to exercise good social skills. But that's where the magic (and the growth) happens! Seriously. I challenge you to try at least one of these. Step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to try, be willing to fail, be willing to learn, be willing to have fun in a whole new way. Be willing to be proven wrong. You never know what the Universe has in store for you when you try something new, it just might surprise you. Here you go: 25 Strategies for Single Parents to Stay Social on a Tight Budget Organize Playdates: If you have school aged children, arrange playdates with other parents and their children from your child's school, neighborhood, or extracurricular activities. This allows you to socialize with other adults while your children engage in activities together and you get to know the families that your children spend time with, win-win! Attend Free Family Events: Look for free family-friendly events in your community, such as library storytimes, park picnics, or outdoor movie screenings. These events provide opportunities for both you and your children to socialize with others. Check your neighborhood newspaper or a nearby community center. Host Family Movie Nights: Have regular family movie nights at home where you watch movies together with your children. Invite other families to join you for a fun and affordable evening. Keep the connection alive by skipping the booze and opting for fun mocktails that everyone can enjoy. Join Parenting Groups: Join local parenting groups or online forums where you can connect with other single parents. These groups often organize meetups, playgroups, and support networks. We can't do parenting alone. It really does take a village. You and your children will be better for it. Participate in School Activities: Get involved in your child's school activities by volunteering for events, attending parent-teacher meetings, or joining the PTA. This allows you to interact with other parents and build connections within the school community. Attend Free Community Workshops: Take advantage of free workshops or seminars in your community that are geared towards families or single parents. These events may cover topics such as parenting tips, budgeting, or self-care. Check your community newspaper, community center, or do a simple Google search for your surrounding neighborhoods. Explore Nature Together: Spend time outdoors with your children by going on nature walks, visiting local parks, or having a picnic in the countryside. Invite another family along or challenge yourself to meet one new person. It's a great way to bond as a family while enjoying the beauty of nature. You can incorporate a simple scavenger hunt, search for the biggest sticks, watch for animal tracks, or look for faces in nature. Host a Family Game Night: Organize family game nights where you play board games, card games, or video games together at home. Invite other families to join in for a fun and affordable evening of entertainment. Invite other families to bring their favorite games so you have some variety. Let go of needing to win and just enjoy the win of being together. Join Single Parent Support Groups: Seek out local support groups or online communities specifically for single parents. These groups offer a safe space to share experiences, seek advice, and connect with others who understand your situation. I personally found it very helpful to join a single parenting group that gathered for a group playdate every so often. Kids could play and parents could connect. Attend Free Community Events: Keep an eye out for free community events such as street fairs, festivals, or cultural celebrations. These events often offer entertainment, food, and activities for families to enjoy together. Pack mostly food from home and set a small budget to get a special treat or participate in one activity while at an event. This way you can enjoy in the festivities and feel like you're part of the fun while not breaking the bank. Host a Potluck Dinner: Organize potluck dinners with other single parents and their children. Each family can contribute a dish, making it a budget-friendly way to enjoy a meal together and socialize. This is a fantastic way to develop a new family-like system. You become a safe adult for the other children and the other adults become safe for your kids. Let go of the idea of the house needing to be perfectly put together, having beautiful place settings, or any other perfectionism that gets in the way of connection. Side note: When I lived in Costa Rica for nearly a year, most of us in our community had so little resources that when we would host potlucks, everyone needed to bring their own dishes. More often than not, people are just excited to be invited and connect. Exchange Babysitting Services: Coordinate with other single parents to exchange babysitting services. You can take turns watching each other's children, allowing everyone to enjoy some much-needed time off without the expense of hiring a babysitter. Again, you're building relationships and creating a village that helps care for each other and your children. Plan a Group Outing: Coordinate a group outing with other single-parent families to a local attraction such as a zoo, museum, or botanical garden. Look online, at your local library, or community center for discounted admission rates or free admission days to keep costs down. Consider driving a ways out of town to find unique attractions off the beaten path. Many times rural attractions have cheaper entrance fees. Attend Free Community Sports Events: Look for free or low-cost sports events in your community, such as youth soccer games, little league baseball games, or your local high school games. It's a fun way to support local teams, bond with other families (more to invite to potluck dinners!), and any fees paid go towards a good cause. Attend High School Theater Shows: Similar to the sports events mentioned above, High School theater is a great source of entertainment! You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars to expose your kids to the theater. And you would be amazed at how talented these high school actors really are. I'm coming to enjoy amateur theater more than professional because they're absolutely adorable. Host a Craft Night for Kids: Why wait for a birthday party? Organize a craft night for children where they can create art projects together. Invite kids from school, the neighborhood, or daycare, and their parents. Set up different craft stations with supplies you already have at home, or check out your local dollar store. Set out some lemonade and invite the parents to bring a snack to share. Farmer's Market: Meet your need for good, whole foods and social connection at the same time. Find your nearest farmer's market and connect with other families and farmers who share this same interest. They often have kid-friendly activities. Picnics in the Park: Plan picnics in local parks. They're usually free or have minimal entrance fees, and you can invite friends or family to join you. Volunteer Together: Look for volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteering not only helps others but also allows you to meet new people who share similar interests. Join Meetup Groups: Explore meetup.com or similar platforms to find groups in your area that share your interests. Many of these gatherings are free or have minimal membership fees. I personally led a Meetup group for years after my divorce, as well as participating in several others. It's a fantastic way to meet new people and make new friends with similar interests. Book Clubs: Start or join a book club with friends, neighbors, or co-workers. You can borrow books from the library or swap them among yourselves to keep costs low. You don't even need many people for this. You can have a book club of 2! Host a Clothing Swap: Organize a clothing swap party where guests bring clothes they no longer wear and exchange them with others. It's a fun way to switch up your wardrobe without spending money. Go Grocery Shopping with a Friend: Turn grocery shopping into a fun outing with a friend. You can hold each other accountable to remaining in your respective budgets and you may learn about some new food or meal options from each other. Group Exercise: Participate in group exercise classes offered at local community centers or parks. Many places offer low-cost or donation-based classes like yoga or tai chi. You can also check out local running, walking, or biking groups that often have a minimal participation fee. Make a goal to make eye contact and say "hi" to at least one new person each time you go. Online Socializing: While face-to-face interactions are important, and arguably the best for us as social mammals, don't underestimate the power of online socializing. Connecting with like-minded people, or simply those who are having a similar experience as you, can do wonders for helping you feel less alone. There you have it! 25 ideas to help you get and stay socially connected so that you can thrive in community. Start small and keep going. Let go of any expectations or visions of perfection and be willing to be a messy human - the right people will stick around. What would you add to the list? Share in the comments below! Do you need support with overcoming loneliness after divorce? I'm here for you. Click the button below to learn how I can support you and then book a free call. To hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. Thank you! And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. 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  • Do This to Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

    Several years ago, if I made one little mistake, like burning the pancakes, I’d say the absolute worst things to myself. Things I would never, ever say to anyone else. Can you relate? Oof. I cringe just thinking about it. Most of us talk to ourselves in ways that we would never dream of uttering to another person, especially our own child or best friend. Yet, we relentlessly speak to ourself in the harshest ways, thinking that it's going to improve our performance and somehow make us better. It doesn't. It actually makes things worse. And, being hard on yourself makes you feel more depressed, angry, and lonely. I'm going to show you exactly how to stop being so hard on yourself and how to create a kinder relationship with yourself. Because it doesn't just help you feel better, it actually helps you pursue your goals, have healthier relationships, and feel happier in your life. Notice how your mind talks to you when you make a mistake. How does your mind speak to you when you make a mistake? What are the words or phrases it says? I actually want you to grab a pen and paper and write it down. Write down the three most common phrases that your mind says to you when you make a mistake. I’ll give you a moment. [giving you a moment] Got it? Do you need more time? Okay, I’ll trust that you’ve identified a few words or phrases. Now. Who else does that voice sound like? The way you talk to yourself has been shaped by your environment. Think about it. You weren’t born with the words in your mind. You know why? Because you weren’t born with language. You literally did not come out of the womb talking (even if your mom said you did). You didn’t start talking at all for at least 2-4 years into your life. And you didn’t just magically begin speaking because you were born with a talent for words (even if you are talented with words). You started talking because the people around you were talking. And the words you spoke were a reflection of what you heard. This is how language and dialect is passed on. The words that you heard other people say to you, about you, or about themselves, or others, significantly shapes the way you talk to yourself internally. So let me ask you again. When you think of that voice in your mind that swoops in after you’ve made a mistake, who else does it sound like? Whose voice is it? And let me make it clear: we’re not here to blame anyone. We’re here to understand and increase awareness. That’s it. How you talk to yourself reflects how you actually think about yourself. Okay. Now that you know what your mind says to you when you make a mistake, I want you to answer this question: What does this make you think about yourself? For me, some of my most common thoughts were: “I’m an idiot.” “I’m worthless.” “I’m a failure.” What is it for you? What are the thoughts or beliefs about yourself that are underneath the way that your mind says to you when you make a mistake? Take a moment to write some of these down. For real. These exercises don’t work unless you actually do them. How you think influences how you feel. Now, how do these thoughts make you feel? When I say feel, I’m not talking about more thoughts or ideas about yourself. Don’t just tell me what you’re thinking. I mean, what are the emotions, the feeeeeeeelings, that you experience as a result of those thoughts. If you’re saying, “I don’t know Sherri! I don’t know what the heck I’m feeling!” It’s okay. You’re not alone. I know the mind is not always very good at identifying feelings. That’s the case for most of us. So it can be helpful to listen to your body when you’re trying to figure out what you’re actually feeling. I’m talking about feeling words, like: sad, scared, angry, shameful, surprised, lonely, happy, etc. Look back over the words and phrases you just wrote down in the previous exercise. Close your eyes and let those sink in. Now turn your attention inward towards your body. Notice the sensations in your body. Pause. Write down any feeling words that seem to resonate with you. Accept your feelings and respond to them with loving-kindness. Now. Imagine that someone you dearly love, and maybe who is a little more vulnerable than you, is feeling this same way. It could be your child, your pet, your niece or nephew, you get the idea. Get a picture of them in your head. Now, without trying to change their thoughts or feelings, what would you say or do with them if you wanted them to know that they’re not alone and they are loved exactly as they are. How would you show them tender, loving-kindness? What actions would you take? What words would you say? If you’re not sure, then imagine how a deeply loving figure would respond to them. How do you think God, Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, or Thich Nhat Hanh would respond to them? Take a moment to imagine this in your mind. Then write down some ideas. Now I want you to picture doing this or saying these things to yourself. This is how you start being kinder to yourself. With enough practice and time, you absolutely can retrain the way you respond to yourself when you make a mistake. Okay, I hear you saying, “But Sherri, I can’t do this all the time. You can’t expect me to be Mother Teresa or Jesus for crying out loud. This is unreasonable.” I hear you. You’re absolutely right. I don’t expect you to be perfect at this. Because that wouldn’t be human or loving. I’m not perfect at it either. But, I want you to just practice. Practice as often as you can. Aim for progress not perfection. Slowly over time, the berating will get less and less. Less raking over the coals, and no more hell, fire and brimstone when you burn the pancakes or send the wrong email. You'll have more patience, feel more at ease, and feel more calm even when things don't go exactly as you intended, which helps you be the kind of person and mom you really want to be. And, bonus, you'll automatically begin to respond to your kids and people you love in the same way. Which, in turn, helps them have a more loving relationship with themselves. Cool, huh? Give it a try and let me know how it goes. To be notified when I publish a new article, hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. And remember, you are always loved no matter what. Pin this post to read it later Sherri M. Herman, MA, LPCC is a spiritual life coach, speaker, and psychotherapist who is known for being a compassionate guide has been helping others achieve their goals since 2010. Having been twice divorced herself, she loves helping women overcome the challenges and loneliness of divorce while balancing the needs of self-love, parenting, and life. She lives near Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son (aged 12 at the time of this publishing), dog (Spirit), cat (Daisy), and axolotl (Mochi). She loves movie and game nights with her family, hosting potlucks and bonfires, working out at the gym, and going camping with family-friends. Get Your Free 5-Day Email Series >> From Loneliness to Love I’m here to support you if you need. I can provide you with spiritual coaching regardless of where you are located. Click below to book a free call.

  • Rebuilding Trust in Yourself After Divorce

    Have you struggled with trusting yourself after divorce? If so, you’d be normal. Society puts the forever-marriage on a pedestal. My maternal grandparents were married for 65 years when my grandfather passed away. They were together for a total of about 72 years. According to our culture, they won the marriage lottery. And maybe they did. But my friend, it’s time to stop comparing. Part of rebuilding your trust in yourself is trusting that you’re on the exact right path for your life. You were born in a different era and a different culture. You never were, and never have been, dependent on marriage for survival or love. It’s time to give up the assumption that you need to be married (and stay married) in order to be worthy of love, trustworthiness, and to be a good person. Honest people get divorced. It takes a hell of a lot of honesty, courage, integrity, and humility to admit that something isn’t working. Or maybe that you're being mistreated, or that you got married for the wrong reasons, that you’re living a lie, that you got married when you were living unconsciously, or that you hate what your life has become, etc. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you got honest with yourself and you took action. Some people stay in a miserable marriage for years just so they can fulfill an image of happiness and perfection, meanwhile, their soul is starving for true connection. That is an incredibly lonely life. And as you may already know, chronic loneliness can shave years off your life (nearly 30%) and drastically increase the risk factors of a myriad of health problems including dementia. Staying in an unworkable marriage to manage other peoples' perceptions of you and your life isn’t worth the cost. Good and trustworthy people don’t stay married. Whaa? Hold up - hear me out. I’m not saying that people who stay married aren’t trustworthy people (although sometimes they’re not). I’m saying that you don’t lose your trustworthiness or goodness as a person simply because you have divorced. On the contrary, if you are divorced, it means you honored yourself by asking for the divorce or you honored your former spouse by giving them the divorce that they wanted or needed to be a whole person. That is very trustworthy. Divorce is actually a very loving and trusting thing to do. Yes, I said it. Divorce is a loving thing to do because it relinquishes control. I think it was Gandhi who said that any attempt to control another is an act of violence (but I’m not able to confirm the source at this time). But I would add, that sentiment goes for your relationship with yourself. I’m saying, you can trust yourself even more because of where you are. You’ve gone through some seriously hard times and have made some seriously hard choices. And you’re still here. You’re obviously interested in your own growth as a person, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. That tells me that you can trust yourself to make wise decisions for your life. It’s not your fault. The family system you grew up in plays a significant role in how you experience relationships and view marriage. If getting married and staying married was highly valued, like it was in my family, then you are more likely to have married to get love, approval, and worthiness rather than marrying from that a place of love, approval, and worthiness. If you were raised in an environment where your feelings, wants, and needs were dismissed, shamed, or minimized, then you were unconsciously trained to dismiss or minimize them within yourself. This pattern will typically be re-created in your relationships because it lives within you. Like-attracts-like, so you were also highly likely to marry someone who embodies those similar emotional-behavioral patterns. Without intervention, these types of patterns are more likely to lead to a very unhappy marriage and/or divorce. Can you see how this isn’t your fault? You didn’t get to choose the system you were raised in (and neither did your caregivers). You didn’t get to choose who you were attracted to. You didn’t get to choose the emotional behavioral patterns that were “installed” in you as a child. We look in the rearview mirror for understanding not for blame or pointing fingers. We look back so we can see, learn, and then move forward differently. You get to decide now. Now that you know what you know, you get to decide what’s working for you and what’s not, meaning, what’s adding to your joy in life or what is stealing it. What's energizing and what's draining? You get to decide what you want to change or not. You get to decide what values matter most to you and to what extent you want those values to guide your life. You get to decide what kinds of relationships you want in your life, including the most important relationship in your life: the one with yourself. You are worthy of love and respect no matter what. The task of rebuilding trust in yourself after divorce is multifaceted. It involves embracing acceptance, understanding, and a willingness to see yourself, your relationships, and your life in a new light. The old light doesn’t work anymore. Self-compassion plays a pivotal role in this process. Rather than berating yourself for perceived past mistakes or perceived shortcomings, practice kindness and understanding towards yourself by recognizing that you are always learning and we are all doing life for the first time. There is no one, right and true way. Healing from divorce is not a linear process. There may always be some moments of doubt, loneliness, and fear. However, by trusting in yourself and your innate wisdom, you can navigate these challenges with grace, ease, and resilience. Remember that you are not alone on this journey. Seek support from trusted friends, family members, you Higher Guidance/Higher Power, and/or professionals who can offer guidance and encouragement along the way. If you'd like support, I'm here for you. To hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. And remember, you are always loved no matter what.

  • Social Anxiety and Loneliness: Why Getting Into Community Isn't Always The Answer For Reducing Loneliness

    Have you ever had that experience of feeling alone in a crowded room? Have you ever been in a group but felt like an outsider struggling to connect? I’ve been there many times, in fact, I spent most of my life feeling that way. If you’ve ever felt like you're on the outskirts of your own life, yearning for connection but unable to find it, stick with me. I’m going to share with you how the generally recommended advice failed me, I'll dive into the link between social anxiety and loneliness, and I'll leave you with some recommendations if you think you might struggle with social anxiety. Several years ago when I was newly divorced and feeling exceptionally lonely, I began regularly attending a very large Church in my community. Intellectually I knew that being in community and developing new relationships was an important factor in overcoming loneliness. I chose this particular Church because the values of the Church were in alignment with my own and it seemed to have a great Sunday School program for my son. I was excited to be a part of a large community with shared values, I loved the sermons, and my son really enjoyed his Sunday School experiences. However, week after week, I felt more and more lonely when I attended. While I got so much out of the sermon itself, the coffee hour left me feeling deeply sad and lonely. I looked around and saw many families, couples, grandparents, and so many people who already seemed to be good friends. As a single, divorced mom, I didn’t feel like I fit in. Everyone seemed to be engaged with each other and I felt entirely invisible. Even if someone spoke to me, I just assumed they were “being nice” because they felt sorry for me. I ended up feeling more alone and lonely than if I hadn’t gone at all. Have you ever had an experience like that? I eventually stopped going to that thriving Church. Not because there was anything wrong with that community but because I couldn’t make a connection. I wasn’t willing to reach out to someone new and start a conversation. I felt too much anxiety at continuing a conversation that someone had started with me; I didn’t know what to say and I feared anything I said sounded stupid. I felt too intimidated to join a small group. I stayed on the sidelines because I felt small, insignificant, invisible, and deeply unworthy on the inside. My mind bombarded me with so many thoughts of doubt and negative self-judgment and they won. My friend, if you’re anything like me I want you to know that you’re not alone. I see you. The vast majority of experts on loneliness recommend that if you’re feeling lonely, you should surround yourself with a supportive community. “Get into community” is what they always say. That solution truly does work for so many people, which is why it’s so popular. However, it doesn’t work for everyone for a variety of reasons. I’m here for the people that the message, “Get into community,” doesn’t work for. It’s simply not always that easy to just “get into community.” In fact, I feel frustrated every time I see that recommendation. The recommendation to increase community connection lacks insight into the complexities of one’s relationship with one’s self (internal connection) and how this directly impacts social relationships (external connections). There is a tremendous body of research linking social-anxiety and loneliness. If you experience social-anxiety, you’re more likely to experience loneliness. However, loneliness does not typically precede social-anxiety. If you don’t feel worthy enough to connect with other people, or experience a lot of self-doubt, negative self-judgment, or deeply fear negative judgment from others, simply joining a community is not likely to be helpful. In fact, if you struggle with negative self-judgment, joining a community can make you feel worse. It can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, fear, and shame, leading to a downward spiral. I’ve seen it time and time again in myself and so many of my clients. Overcoming any level of social anxiety requires: 1) A change in relationship with your thoughts 2) A change in relationship with your feelings 3) A change in behavior. Together, these three critical changes comprise a change in relationship with yourself. One needs to shift from a relationship dominated by fear and judgment to a relationship that is driven by acceptance and love. Your external relationships are a mirror of your internal relationship with yourself. How you imagine others will think of you is a reflection of how you think of yourself. If you struggle with negative self-judgment, you are more likely to fear negative judgements from others. When you practice loving self-acceptance, you are more likely to feel accepted and belonging in general. When you experience social-anxiety and want to experience more satisfying, connected, and meaningful relationships with others, developing a more accepting, compassionate, and loving relationship with yourself is critical. When I look back now at my earlier experiences of trying to join that Church community, I can see so clearly that, until my relationship with myself changed, I wasn’t going to make much headway on developing new connections. I was too blocked by my own negative self-judgment and unworthiness to even think that other people could be accepting of me. I still struggle with some of these issues but not nearly as much as I used to. I currently work for a very large Church while I'm also personally a member of a more intimate faith community. The past version of me, before I re-worked my relationship with myself, would have been far too scared to touch either of these communities with a ten-foot pole. You can get started on cultivating a more accepting and loving relationship with yourself by subscribing to my free give-day email series: From Loneliness to Love. I take you on a brief journey to help ignite feelings of self-love through a series of prayers and affirmations that help you connect with your idea of a Higher Power/Guidance and inner source of love. Click the button below to sign up: If you’re curious about your own level of possible social-anxiety, you can learn more here and even access a freely available screening tool online. Please be aware that this tool is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any mental health disorder. It is simply a screening tool that may be able to help you determine if you need additional support from a qualified professional. It’s important for me to note that social-anxiety, like many other conditions, exists on a spectrum and not all levels of social-anxiety warrant a clinical diagnosis or clinical treatment. It all depends on the intensity and duration of your fear and avoidance, and how it does or does not impact your ability to function in your daily life and relationships. Only a qualified mental health professional can effectively diagnose Social-Anxiety Disorder. If you think you need the support of a therapist, you can contact your primary care doctor or your health insurance provider for a referral. You can also check out web-based resources like PsychologyToday.com or BetterHelp.com to find a therapist in your area (I don't receive any kickbacks for these recommendations). Most importantly, I want you to know that if you struggle with cultivating connections with others, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault. I’m with you and I’m here for you. Stick with me and keep following me. If you'd like support, I'm here for you. To hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. And remember, you are always loved no matter what.

  • The Link Between Perfectionism and Loneliness

    In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, researcher and author Brené Brown, Ph.D, says, “Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of blame, judgment, and shame.” I’m going to share with you one of my crash-and-burn experience with perfectionism, explain the connection between perfectionism and loneliness, help you recognize if you have the perfectionism bug, and provide you with a winning strategy to overcome perfectionism. I got married the first time in my early twenties. I thought that if I was married, I’d be doing life the right and perfect way and it would mean that I was good, lovable, and worthy of approval. After several “failed” relationships, I was finally matched up by a family member. I thought to myself, “Yes, this is the right way.” I was so focused on executing what I thought was the perfect plan to gain approval and love, I had no idea that I wasn't even close to being ready for marriage. I really didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship with another person because I had a deeply unhealthy relationship with myself. Long story short, we divorced less than two years later and this crash-and-burn experience drove me into a deeper hole of loneliness. I felt like the biggest failure on the planet and experienced a lot of shame. Fewer things are lonelier than being trapped in the pursuit of perfectionism but to the untrained eye, it can look like ultimate success and fulfillment on the outside. Perfectionism is a creative yet controlling and stifling coping strategy born out of feelings of shame, insecurity, and unworthiness. This strategy usually begins in childhood, often as a result of nature and nurture, and, left unchecked, carries forward into adulthood. While perfectionism can have some benefits and rewards leading to material success or social status, it’s ultimately a losing strategy when it comes to your long-term health and relationships. Research suggests that those who struggle with perfectionism are more likely to experience depression, social hopelessness, and loneliness. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you are focused on trying to be perfect, you'll miss out on genuine and authentic connection and presence with yourself and others, which is what your heart truly longs for and is the key to overcoming loneliness. Perfectionism ends up doing the opposite of what you hope for, it leaves you with an abundance of shame and a scarcity of love; it gives rise to deep loneliness and even addictive behaviors that keep you stuck in the cycle. Is perfectionism lurking in the background of your mind? Here are some questions to ask yourself: Do you agonize over details until they’re just right? Do you more easily see problems than solutions? Are you often worried about how other people think about you? Do you get down on yourself for making even the smallest mistakes? Do you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough, no matter how hard you try, even when others praise your work? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may struggle with perfectionism. Just so you know, you’re in good company and these patterns don’t have to rule your life. Vulnerability and self-compassion are key components of developing a loving relationship with yourself and help you move from approval-based living to value-based living. You can breathe again because you’re living with a solid foundation of security and love within yourself that isn’t dependent on perfect performance or on the perceptions of others. This is a recipe for real connection and lasting love. The next time you find your perfectionism ruling over a situation that is literally not life or death, pause for a moment and pull back from the task at hand. Practice this exercise of self-connection: Check in with your body to see how it’s feeling and check in with how you’re breathing. Regulate your breathing. Tell yourself, “I’ve gotten caught up in perfectionism again. This is hard to change. I feel ______. I need ______. I love you.” Take 5 deep breaths. Decide what matters most right now and proceed accordingly. Let me know how it goes. If you'd like support, I'm here for you. To hear about updates first, receive occasional freebies, and be privy to stories I may not share anywhere else, sign up by clicking the button below. Please forward this to a friend or share on social media. And remember, you are always loved no matter what.

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