a self-love poster spotted on Providence’s not-so-mean streets
I spotted this philosophical poster on my way across the street to walk underneath the changing trees of fall.
“A heart that loves itself cannot broken.”
First let me say that I love these mysterious people who are stapling self-love posters to telephone poles. Their intent to spread the message of self-compassion could not be more admirable. Their tactile work is so much more satisfying and human to take in than another inspirational quote on Instagram.
My heart swelled reading their message. But my critical mind could not stop there.
“But is this true?” I stopped to ask myself, before crossing the street to walk through the park. “Is it really true that a heart that loves itself cannot be broken?”
the first blush of fall on that walk
My heart got broken this year in a way that it had not been broken in years. There were nights when I woke up at 4 am and felt like a meteor had landed in my heart, leaving a charred crater in its wake. The despair of that break-up left my heart jagged and in pieces.
Did that mean that I don’t love myself? Or did that mean I was allowing myself to feel?
I thought about that lovely poster on my walk through the trees.
Here’s how I would amend the text if I were to make it feel true to me.
“A heart that loves itself cannot be permanently broken.”
“A heart that loves itself heals more quickly after heartbreak.”
“A heart that loves itself will not lose itself in grief for years.”
“A heart that loves itself will grow more resilient to love again.”
When I was going through the worst of this heartbreak, someone told me it was a good sign that my heart hurt so deeply. Being more heartbroken than ever, he said, meant I had opened up to love, and the hurt would only lead my heart to grow back stronger. I took solace in the idea that heartbreak could only grow my capacity to love.
Here is what I know for sure by now: Heartbreak is unavoidable. Loss is the flaw in love. Many of our attempts at romantic relationships do not work out over the long-term. Even superficial online dating attempts can break your heart, slowly over time, little by little, cut by cut. Horrible people will be elected as our leaders. People will disappoint us. Our friends and lovers and family will pass away.
There is always going to be heartbreak and disappointment.
The best we can hope for is that our hearts break and then grow back stronger. Self-love comes when we stop blaming ourselves. The key to healing your heart is taking out the thorn of self-blame.
Healing is a shift in perspective. A shift of knowing that you are lovable and life can be good even after devastation. Cue the song, “I Will Survive.” Seriously, if you are going through a heartbreak right now, play that song on YouTube and dance to it. We need to feel the feelings and let them move through us, through journaling, talking with a trusted friend, coach or therapist, dancing, walking, or whatever works best for you to alchemize the pain.
It’s not inevitable that a heart grows back stronger. A heart can also break and not stitch back together. A heart can grow bitter, jaded, shriveled, and resigned, which happens all the time.
Many, many people give up on love and their dreams all the time. It’s a miracle to keep going and to be at peace with your life as it is right now.
It takes a strong heart to keep on beating. A heart that loves itself.
P.S. In a little over two weeks, on Thursday November 4, at 8 pm ET (NYC time), I am going to interview my dear friend Carolyn Arnold about her new memoir Fifty First Dates after Fifty. This is a free online event to celebrate the launch of Carolyn’s book. We would love for you to join us.
Carolyn, an inveterate social scientist, and definitely a quirky, independent woman, devised an unusual dating plan to go on fifty first dates to find the right partner for her. I’ll be asking her about how she stitched her heart back together after disappointments and rejections.
Once you have been slammed a number of times in dating, how can you stay positive and keep going? You can read this interview I did with Carolyn way back in 2012 to get a taste for what we will be talking about.
If you have been considering working with me as your life coach this free event is a nice low-pressure chance to get to know me a little better and see me in action interviewing Carolyn. If you are over 40, 50, 60, or 70 and battle voices in your head thinking it’s too late, you should definitely come. You can register here.
I have been working as a life coach for nearly ten years now, and I must say, it’s been interesting to coach during the pandemic because we are living through unprecedented times together. I pick up on similar themes when I talk to my clients.
One thing that has been coming up lately is this: “I feel lonely and very much want to be with people but also need to take it in small doses.” That’s kind of a pickle, isn’t it? We want to be with others but we are also exhausted by socializing after spending so much time alone.
At the same time, we are collectively experiencing fear about what another Covid winter will bring. There can be a feeling of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out) in the near future–so I need to see all the people, go to all the events, go on all the dates, or whatever, while it’s still warm enough to meet safely outside.
Operating with this level of urgency is frenetic and draining, especially if you are still being conscientious about the pandemic because the situation is constantly changing and there are so many considerations when making plans, riding public transportation, traveling, etc.
If our government supported us by giving free home tests (as they are doing in Austria since March) so that everyone had the resources to check their Covid status easily, the whole situation would be easier. But as individuals, at least in the US, we have been left to navigate this mess on our own.
What I have been telling clients, and I will tell you now, is that it’s important to slow down and remember that we have a choice about how we experience our alone time. We can remember the distinctions of loneliness vs. solitude (a chapter in my book Quirkyalone).
We can experience being alone as loneliness–a feeling of lacking and emptiness, yearning for that which is not there, or we can consciously choose to experience our alone time as solitude. Being intentional about our alone time can make that time feel more nourishing.
From this slower, more resourced position, we can choose how and when we want to socialize with less desperation, and not overdo it.
Many people have realized during the pandemic that they need more solitude than they gave themselves in the past. Maybe you are reaching for the social thing now out of fear of loneliness when actually what you need to do is light a candle and write in your journal, then play relaxing music and take a bath. It’s a time to figure out what you really want and need–and give it to yourself.
We need to be gentle with ourselves through such massive shifts.
I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and go slow.
I was talking with a new client this past week about how she needed to be in the right headspace of feeling hopeful and entitled to support in her life before she reached out to me about coaching. I think this is totally true for many of us. We need to feel a certain kind of optimism before reaching out to a total stranger to get support in our lives. If that’s you, I want to tell you it’s not that scary to reach out and have a conversation about coaching. Everyone needs support. It’s a good thing, and you can start the process right here.
If you are looking for something to watch, I suggest Love on the Spectrum, an Australian docu-series on Netflix about autistic people on their dating journeys.
It’s light, entertaining, and uplifting. Plus, the people they are following have a lot to teach all of us, including neurotypical people, about how to be emotionally brave in dating.
Love on the Spectrum is the best dating show because the people are so incredibly real. They say things like this, “I feel very warm, appreciated, and comfortable with you. How would you like to go out with me on a third date?” I loved it when one of them said he would never want to be on The Bachelor because he wouldn’t get to be himself.
Dating is tough enough for everyone, but it is has got to be tougher for autistic people who face stigma and tend to find social interactions challenging. What I love about the people on the show is their honesty. No pretending, no facade. What you see is what you get.
When it comes to love, their sincerity is so refreshing. They get hurt and disappointed, but they don’t get jaded and they don’t give up. One of the most important qualities to cultivate when you are dating is resilience. They also have parents who really support their self-love.
Lovely Michael is not afraid to say, “I’m on a quest to find true love.” How many of us are willing to say that out loud?
Another great line comes from 22-year-old Teo, who said, “I get so nervous about… what if I die alone?” Who says that on a date?
They bring gifts on first dates. They take it slow. They ask permission to hug or hold hands. Their courtships are so quaint and lovely compared to the hot mess of the dating-app world.
The people on the show get advice from Jodi Rodgers, relationship specialist for autistic people, who teaches them how to ask questions and listen to the answers.
Since the dating apps have come to dominate the ways we meet, almost everyone today needs a rudimentary course on how to date today because phone-based apps like Tinder and Hinge have shaped many people’s behaviors to be downright rude and bizarre.
I suspect the producers are heavily coaching them to say how they really feel on their dates, or they are just the most authentic people ever. I have never seen modern-day people be more open confessing their feelings. “I’m into you–how do you feel about me?”
Someone has to be brave enough to ask that question first. Telling someone else how you feel on a date equals MAJOR LIFE SKILL.
The people on the show are young, in their twenties and early thirties. I would like to see the show follow older people on the spectrum in their dating journeys too and to hear about how their relationships have gone.
The bottom-line message from the show is: Be yourself. Be brave.
A friend told me about YDB. I am not sure of the origin of this wisdom, but it’s too good to not share.
This is for all of you who are struggling with an ex, a break-up, an RO (romantic obsession).
I know how hard it can be to get over people especially when you have opened your heart after it’s been closed for a while–and allowed yourself to believe in love again.
It didn’t work out. And your heart hurts. You can’t believe how long you are thinking about this person and what you once shared.
Here’s what you do. You tap into the power of YDB.
What does YDB mean?
You Dumb Bastard?
Yucky Discolored Box Syndrome? (Yes, this exists on the Internet. It has something to do with Adobe.)
It means YOU DESERVE BETTER!
So go ahead and write the acronym YDB before his or her name in your phone contacts list, if she or he is still in there. Or emblazon YDB before their name in your mind. YDB Mark. YDB Carlos. YDB Francesca. Change their name to YDB-their name for as long as you need to.
Maybe it feels like a leap to believe that there is someone out there for you who will be a better match for you. Well, in the meantime, you also deserve better than torturing yourself with thoughts about someone who doesn’t want to be with you anyway.
Whenever we are trying to change our experience, we are working on changing our thoughts. That process typically doesn’t happen overnight. Choosing new thoughts on purpose is a practice. It’s like going to the gym and lifting weights. The strength to choose new thoughts comes because you are consistently choosing differently.
So whenever that person comes to mind, you repeat YDB.
By brute force we start to believe that new thought.
Put it in your phone or in your journal or on a sticky note on your refrigerator.
I am a highly sensitive person, and I tend to attract highly sensitive people as my readers and clients. I’ve been shamed for being “too sensitive” many times and I have gotten to a place in life where I don’t allow anyone to tell me that I am too sensitive anymore. Telling someone they are “too sensitive” is a way of invalidating that’s person’s emotions. Sensitivity can be a challenge but it’s also a strength.
Being a sensitive person, unabashedly so (!), I have found that in order to live well and move forward in my life, and not get too stuck, I need to consistently practice “emotional hygiene.”
You might have heard about “sleep hygiene” but maybe not “emotional hygiene.” We need to take care of our emotions and release them. Otherwise our anger, fear, and sadness can get lodged in our bodies and even cause us pain, anxiety, insomnia, and the fun list goes on. Or the sadness after a breakup stick with us forever, and we don’t move on. Hello RO – romantic obsession!
The key is to find practices that work for you and repeat them. It’s not a matter of trying something new every week but instead finding what’s new inside of doing a practice.
One of my favorites is called the Milagrows practice. If you have been part of my online classes or a coaching client I might have shared it with you. The Milagrows practice is about practicing gratitude for all the s#$ in your life – naming what you don’t like, and then welcoming it with gratitude. It’s a practice of self-acceptance and acknowledgment.
If you are riding the waves of life and want a simple journalling practice to help you welcome it all, check it out here.
And if you are a sensitive soul, don’t let anyone tell you you are too sensitive!
Laura definitely groks “quirkyalone” (probably because she is one!). In our interview we talked about how we can move from “single shame” to owning our stories as discerning quirkyalones.
Why? So we can stop all those self-critical thoughts in our heads–and be more peaceful within ourselves and open to more love and connection.
For example, in our conversation, we talk about with shameful thoughts and questions like, “Is it my fault that I’m still single? I’m the one common denominator!” Or “Am I actually unlovable?”
By now I have enough experience as a life coach, writer and human being to know that people in long relationships also struggle with questions about whether they are lovable, but these questions really do hit hard if you are single for a lot longer than you want to be. I’ve worked through those issues myself–they will be on full display in my memoir (working title Wet). I often talk with clients who carry around the feeling that it’s their fault they are still single.
Loneliness, in my view, gets very tangled up with shame. We feel ashamed of feeling lonely and needing or wanting more connection than we have. We might even feel ashamed of having needs for love or companionship that have not been met. Or we might feel ashamed that our life stories don’t fit the “norm” of how adulthood is supposed to happen with certain milestones by certain ages.
According to this San Diego-based psychological study, 75% of Americans struggle with loneliness, even if they have a partner and a network of friends. These researchers found wisdom, compassion and empathy help people to feel more connected to humanity and the cosmos. Interacting with others who share values and interests can be helpful too.
Laura wants to help us to change the way we view loneliness so that instead of feeling ashamed of our loneliness as a personal failing we see it as a message to be attended to. I hope this conversation can give you more wisdom to look at your own feelings of loneliness when they come up. As Laura helped us see there are lots of ways to look at a dating history that has been mostly single. There might be something right with you if you don’t settle for a mediocre or unhealthy relationship.
In this video, you will hear us talk about:
What we mean when we say “single shame.” It’s that feeling that might overcome you when your date asks how long it’s been since your last relationship. It’s been years, and you don’t know what to say
What it means to “own your story” so someone can get to know you. If we don’t love and accept our own story enough to share it will be difficult for anyone to get to know you.
This brilliant corrective to single shame. When you are caught in a loop of self-judgment about still being single, sometimes the best thing to do is stop judging yourself and accept the mystery of life.
What I think about the idea that “you have to love yourself to love someone else.”
How relationships are mirrors and are co-created between two people.
How my ideas about relationships have evolved since publishing Quirkyalone in 2004
The memoir I’m working on now Wet is a follow-up to Quirkyalone. The new book goes into my own single shame story of how healing the effects of trauma helped me to open up more deeply than ever before in an important romantic relationship
Touch starvation when feeling lonely–and how tango or any kind of dance with contact can be an antidote
So go back to the top of this blog post and watch this video because it’s truly special (it starts off slow but it’s really a gem if you identify with being quirkyalone). Then, want to read or hear more about working with your loneliness and healing single shame?
Laura interviewed more than a dozen healers and thinkers on the topic of transforming loneliness from many spiritual perspectives. These videos are very nourishing. Check them out on her YouTube channel.
I’ve been talking about single shame with other authors, coaches and therapists for a while now.
This is tough stuff and you don’t need to do it on your own. Sometimes the best way to work through shame is to work with someone who can be your compassionate witness and guide to help you work through these feelings. Simply acknowledging and talking about shame often lessens those feelings considerably. You can find a therapist in your area and ask him or her if she is sensitive to these types of issues or check out my coaching page and request a consult to explore coaching with me.
Do you want to get some extra confidence walking into a job interview? Do you want to feel happier and energized? Do you want to even know what you want?
“So WTF is Pussywalking?” The hilarious Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan who just launched her own talk show KaamnaLive interviewed me about pussywalking the last time I was in San Francisco.
Pussywalking sounds out there but it’s actually quite simple. It’s a way of being mindful so you are present in every step when you walk and to know exactly who you are and your unique powers as a woman. Pussywalking can help you step out of your shell, walk with a pep in your step and enjoy life to its fullest. Say hi to your new Sensual Self!
Watching this video you will discover:
What exactly is pussywalking
Why I teach women can have additional power in the energy of her pussy, and that energy can be distributed through the body to improve her confidence and overall well-being
How I originally discovered the pussywalking practice on the way to a job interview in San Francisco
The male equivalent: Men can be cocky, women can be pussypowerful.
Our research team in Buenos Aires is working on researching cockwalking.
What is sensuality and why does it matter? Our culture is obsessed with sex. Sex matters of course. But we rarely talk about sensuality. I want to talk about reviving sensuality in the digital age when we are all too often burying our heads in screens.
In this video with Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan on her new Internet talk show Kaamna Live I made sensuality a priority in my life by leaving Silicon Valley for Brazil back in 2010. In this interview I explain why I made sensuality so important for me at a time when my life was going downhill in many ways.
That move led me to Buenos Aires and tango. The search for sensuality continues because as I see it I need sensual fulfillment to be happy, healthy, and in touch with what I want and don’t want. Being in touch with my sensuality actually helps me make decisions and feel more worthy and whole. We get a lot of valuable information from our bodies but we can only feel those pulses of information if we are in touch with our senses.
In this interview we talk about why reviving your sensuality matters for your health and well-being, which celebrities are sensual and which are not, and how you can make playing golf a more sensual experience. Ha. And we should not miss the obvious point: giving focus to sensuality will make you a better lover. As Kaamna so wisely points out in the video: Men, take note!
Does sensuality matter for you? How do you trigger yourself to get out of your head, off the computer or your phone and back into your body? Where do you find sensual delight?
Though loneliness has become something of a hot topic in the media, I wonder how many of us would feel comfortable to say it out loud to another friend or loved one, “I’m lonely.”
Many of us are reluctant to admit to others when we feel lonely.
I know from my own life and working with quirkyalone/quirkytogether people that loneliness has particular dimensions for people who have been selective in their choices and spent many years being single.
We don’t talk about the loneliness of that path all that much–for example the loneliness of staring down a weekend with no plans.
We wind up feeling even more lonely alone when we don’t see our experience reflected back to us or discussed.
Laura who has been following quirkyalone for 15 years and I first talked over Skype to discuss the focus of our conversation.
We settled on the theme the loneliness of single shame, or of believing something is wrong with you if you have been single for years or just longer than you want to be.
I highly recommend you listen in. Generally when I do conversations with others on single shame it’s healing for someone out there.
This conversation can help you prepare for those awkward moments on dates when someone asks you how long it’s been since your last relationship.
Even more I hope this intimate conversation can help you feel more at peace as you gradually rid yourself of those nagging “there’s something wrong with me” voices in your head.
I remember evading questions on dates when men would ask me, So how long has it been since your last relationship? I felt marked–like something was wrong with me–because I had been single for years.
I’ve since helped many clients who have coped with similar feelings of shame so I know quite well by now single shame can be quite a “thing.”
In our conversation, I talked about my own experience of working through single shame to the end point of owning my story as a discerning quirkyalone and about my experiences helping others along that journey.
The interview is called “From Single Shame to Owning Your Story as a Discerning Quirkyalone.”
Our interview will be aired Saturday, February 23, 2019.
Laura’s series TRANSFORMING LONELINESS: Follow Your Heart’s Longing into Connection, Belonging, and Love will be available FREE from February 19 – 26.
Goofing around with Katrin and her beautiful artisanal tango and non-tango shoes
There’s something you all should really know. Right now is an excellent time to travel to Buenos Aires.
The currency devaluation of the peso has made everything from food to cabs to clothing to milonga entrances as much as 30% cheaper for those of us who have dollars or Euros.
A big devaluation of the Argentine peso happened in September 2018 and I didn’t scream it from the rooftops to you then because quite frankly I feel for my Argentine friends and all those who work in the local economy. It’s not easy when the purchasing power of your salary suddenly decreases by 30%.
However it’s certainly beneficial for you to know about this change if you’re thinking about visiting–and it’s also beneficial for my tango team to have more people coming to learn tango in Buenos Aires. When you come, you are supporting a local economy of people who live and breathe the passion of tango: teaching tango, organizing milongas, providing taxi dancing services to help you gain confidence on the dance floor, and selling artisanal shoes and clothing.
Now is really a great time for you to come to Argentina!
This Bloomberg story gives you an overview of how tempting Argentina has become to tourists. The Bloomberg story tells you about tourists flocking to Argentina for excellent cuts of steak and wine at great prices. The deals are also good for tango shoes, lessons, massages, and my favorite plant-based meals in Buenos Aires. From an economic perspective, it’s a great time to enjoy the many delights the city has to offer.
We will do the last group Tango Adventure for a while May 4-10, 2019 (sniff, sniff) so that’s another reason to seize the moment. If you have been thinking about joining us now is the time.
And if those dates don’t work for you, the Solo Chica Tango Adventure is here for you. I’ve been working like crazy with my team over the last two months to create an exciting new way for you to have a self-guided adventure in my Buenos Aires with specially created transformative tango programs and exclusive pricing for you as my readers.
I'm a women's empowerment coach. I talk to women about their lives and help them get unstuck and create the present and future that they want. My books Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (Harper SanFrancisco) and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster) have been featured in 100+ media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, and NPR.
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Sasha Cagen is the author of the cult favorite Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics and To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us. Her work as an author, life coach for women and entrepreneur has been featured everywhere from NPR and the New York Times to CNN and Vogue.
In her well-loved newsletter going to thousands of women and men who identify with "quirkyalone," Sasha is the voice for people who don't want to settle--in any area of life.
In her coaching practice, Sasha helps smart, successful women (and sensitive, self-aware men) get clear on what they really want and then to achieve their goals while always helping her clients focus on core issues such as self-worth.