Financial Self-Care: The Rule Of 72: When It Applies To Debt

The rule of 72 is usually mentioned when we are talking about investments and savings.  Rarely is it used when talking about debt.rule of 72 and debt, pay down debt, be debt free, financial freedom

Interest rates have been incredibly low in the past few years.  This has acted as an incentive for more borrowing.  So much that almost half of the adult population is in deep financial trouble.  Almost half could not meet a $400 unexpected expense without borrowing or using credit.

While the interest rates have been low, credit card companies have enjoyed a “business as usual” with their rate of interest.  Many around 20%, (mine is 19.97%), with store credit cards hovering around 30%.

Contrary to some financial gurus, like Dave Ramsay who advise against having a credit card, I love mine.  It is convenient and it gives me points which I can exchange at the grocery store for food.  I cannot imagine not having one.  I buy online from Amazon, or I make airline and  AirBnB reservations.

I make it a point to not buy anything I cannot pay in full at the end of the month, and I religiously pay it before the due date.  It happened twice in the past 35 years that I missed a payment for a few days and I was not happy with myself when I saw the interests added to the next statement.


rule of 72 and debt, compound interest, paying down debt, high interest debt


Yes I am aware of credit card companies that offer lower interest rates, Continue reading “Financial Self-Care: The Rule Of 72: When It Applies To Debt”

Do You Have To Ditch That Latte To Realize Your Financial Dreams?


spending money on latte or your financial dreams

Are you spending money on latte?  Latte or financial dreams?  There has been a lot of talk recently on the Web about how spending money on a latte ends up screwing up your finances and your retirement.  Someone else, I can’t remember who, wrote that avocado toasts are really the culprit that sends many to the poor house, or at least without enough money to buy a home or realize their financial dreams.

spending money on latte, financial dreams, financial freedom, saving money, latte factor, debt free, home ownership, emergency fund

This post may contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase I will be paid a small commission, at no cost to you.

My first throught was, “Are you kidding me?”  It takes more than a few latte(s) to do that.    But I kept thinking about those articles and every time I had a latte, in my case americano, I wondered.

What made me wonder was not so much the $2. I splurge on a coffee once a week or so, but when I often saw the people in line ahead of me, spending $8 or more for a latte and an overpriced muffin.  That’s $40 a week, $160 a month and $1,920 a year!

My frugal mind chose to think that A)they either only splurged once a month or B) they are the wealthy among us and this expense is really just a drop in the bucket for them.

I also remembered people from my days working in financial services and the reality that many spent their life in debt and never realized their dreams.  To save and realize your financial dreams, you need a different mindset than when you spent without counting.

What do you need to do?  Who should you listen to?   Is your latte habit a slow leak that will sink your boat and derail your life’s dreams? Continue reading “Do You Have To Ditch That Latte To Realize Your Financial Dreams?”

What You Will Wish Your Younger Self Knew About Saving Money And Becoming A Millionaire

why I need to save money for retirement, saving money retirement, becoming a millionaire, retire with enough, retirement planningAre you wondering “Why do I need to save money for retirement?”    Being poor young is not fun.  Being old and poor sucks.  Saving money for retirement is essential. You don’t want to have to work past retirement age because you are poor.

I don’t mean retirement per se but is the fear that you will be poor because you have not been saving money keep you up at night?  Or have you been distracting yourself and avoiding looking at your finances and financial future hoping for some miracle?

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Have you saved enough?  Did you take time to calculate how much income your nest will provide ?  Did you take into account the factor of “inflation”?  Do you dream of a quiet retirement lifestyle or are you hoping keep the same lifestyle and to travel extensively?

You know that  “hindsight is 20-20?   Nowhere is this more true  than when we talk about saving money.  When you reach retirement and wish you had been more diligent about where to spend,  because you look at your retirement options and see how you could definitely use a couple more hundred thousand dollars in your retirement fund right now.

why I need to save money for retirement, saving money, retirement, retire early,becoming a millionaire

I know.  Saving money is not easy. (But the following 35 tips will help you).  I don’t find it easy to save money, whether it is to stay on budget at the grocery store or pass by those gorgeous clothes and shoes and say to myself “NO”.  Neither do I find it easy to stay in a smallish apartment and not move to a more modern and larger place. Continue reading “What You Will Wish Your Younger Self Knew About Saving Money And Becoming A Millionaire”

10 Tips to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables Without Breaking the Bank

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vegetables, budget, nutrition

Fruits, vegetables.  It’s not easy to eat the daily recommended portions of fruits and vegetables but it’s important to find ways to eat enough.  As you move into your mid-forties, the need for even better nutrition is obvious as we struggle to keep our weight in check.  Vegetables become our best friend as they help us keep a full belly with the highest nutritional value and the lowest caloric intake.

With winter in full swing, higher prices and less choices,  I still want to make sure I keep on eating the daily recommended 6 to 10 portions of vegetables (4-8) and fruits( 2 or 3).  But with asparagus often at $5. a pound, I have come up with alternatives Continue reading “10 Tips to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables Without Breaking the Bank”

Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

New Year, New Year Resolutions,

I have never been keen on making New Year’s resolutions but I vaguely remember making some.   I think they were more “pious wishes” than well thought decisions to make changes.  Nothing much happened as a result of those.  In fact I remember last January saying something to the effect I wanted to lose 8 pounds. Well, it has not happened.

I know that I am not the only one who has failed at those pious wishes of the start of the year.  In fact most people resolutions are forgotten or simply dropped within a couple of weeks after January 1st.  That’s why gyms can give such good deals around this time of year.  Thousands sign up but few show up.

The reason we so collectively fait might have to do Continue reading “Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions”

Follow these Tips to Survive Winter when the Temperature dips

winter, sports, enjoyment

I love Summer and I wish it would last a lot longer but the reality is that my Summer is barely 2 months long.   If like me you live in Cold Country (it’s -2 C this morning and we are barely at the end of November), it’s tempting to push the thermostat up in the house.  Try to resist.

Here are some tips to survive Winter.  It’s better to learn to survive winter than to hibernate.  It’s healthier to keep the inside temperature at or around 21 C during the day and lower at night.  My bedroom temperature is around 15 C which is quite cold;  you might prefer 18 C.

Why keep a cooler house, besides the fact that you will save money?  It’s healthier.  Too warm also usually equals drier.  Viruses and other bugs thrive in warm dry places.  That’s why we all get more colds in winter.  And the warmer the temperature you get used to, the more uncomfortable you will be as soon as you step outside or walk into a house that’s a little cooler.  Better wear a sweater and invest in a down duvet.  It’s also wise to winterproof the house, especially around windows and doors.

You will also feel more comfortable at 21 C if you have the right degree of humidity in the house.  It’s worth buying a hygrometer.  A humidity level of between 30 and 50% is good.  Close to 30% is recommended by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation when the temperature outside is below -10 C.

Another reason to keep the thermometer at a cooler temperature is for the health of your skin.  Too warm and especially too dry will make your skin itchy and increase the roughness.  Your hair will also suffer if you live in an overheated house with low humidity.

Best way to survive winter is to face it.  Go outside.  Even in -30 C temperature, dress well, with hat and mits and a scarf to protect your face, and go for a walk. If you live in a city where winter is brutal, you need to invest in a winter coat that can withstand the coldest temperature.  I have two Land’s End coats that  keep me warm at minus 30 C.

Get your body moving outside, at least once a day – even if you don’t have to.  10 minutes of snow shoveling or a brisk walk around the block will energize you and you will feel better.  You will feel more comfortable with the thermometer at a lower setting when you come back inside.  Better yet, get involved in winter sports.

 Cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing or downhill skiing are not only healthy, they are fun.  I remember cross-country skiing at -30C and really enjoying myself.   Exercise is good for mental health.  Outdoors exercise is even better against depression and the winter blues.

Let me know what you do to survive Winter.  If you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends and on social media.


More fun to relax

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relax, stress, relaxation
Have fun relaxing

I practice tai chi and I love it.  This was not always the case.  When I first enrolled in a tai chi class, maybe 25 years ago – the exact time is vague – I left just about each class with a headache and I did not know why.  Tai chi at that time litterally stressed me out, or more accurately, I was stressed out, too stressed out to relax and I did not know it.

Now that I am generally a lot more relaxed and in sync with myself, tai chi is totally wonderful.  I wish I had had more insight then.  It would have helped me understand where I needed to make changes in the rest of my life.

So how did I go for a stressed-out working full time and studying single parent to where I am now?  Yes the kids did grow up and are now building families of their own, but other things happened to help me to relax.  No I did not learn to meditate – in fact I tried it and it too left me impatient, which is about as far from relaxed as one can be.

What actually helped me relax is the fun I put into my life, specifically in the form of ballroom dancing.  About 16 years ago I started taking ballroom dance classes.  And to help me improve, I also started attending the weekly dances at the studio.  This was so incredibly liberating from all the stress I had in my life and a huge counterbalance to my work as a psychotherapist in addictions.  To get the most benefits of dancing I had to leave my perfectionist self at home and be in beginner’s mind to avoid comparing my humble progress to that of more advanced dancers.

How did ballroom dancing work on my stress?  Music for one is a great de-stressor.  There is a saying in French that says “la musique adoucit les moeurs” or “music soothes the soul”.

Then learning to move and do certain steps, in order, occupies all of the mind. When the mind is occupied on a specific task, it cannot roam and worry.

Third, the atmosphere in a dance studio is fun and light.  There is a lot of laughter and laughter is the best destressor there is.  I still do take classes and they still have the same beneficial effect.

I understand that not everybody wants to learn to dance.  For some it may be equal to torture.  What would you like to do that would both be physically active and engage your mind too?  One thing I am sure of is that if you try meditation or tai chi or even yoga and it makes you want to pull your hair out, you really need to find a way to relax on a regular basis, ideally a few times a week.

Yoga or tai chi are two other physical activities that like ballroom, also require concentration and coordination. In another category there is tennis, or other ball sports – racketball or team sports.  Some swear by knitting – and if you choose knitting, do add a physical activity to your life, be it ballroom or jogging or swimming.  That part is essential to evacuate the stress.

Whatever you choose, choose something that appeals to you and give it at least 3 months.  This is just enough time to develop some skills and decide if you want to continue or find another activity.  And yes, even if it is challenging, it should also be fun.  If you are not having fun, choose something else.

Let me know what you decide to try to de-stress.  If you find this post useful, please share it with your friends.





From negative to healthy self-talk for more energy

self-talk, self-love, self-compassion

Self-criticism can be a real downer.  The trouble is if you are someone who does it, you have come to believe it’s ok to talk to yourself in a way you would never think of talking to someone you love. Negative self-talk has become like emotional abuse is: almost invisible but often the most lethal.  You may continue to do it because it was done to you, a a child or in a relationship and you may actually believe you are not too bright, or not pretty enough or any other “enough”.   I regularly hear and read how some people talk to themselves out loud using words that are cutting and amount to character assassination: “I am so dumb, I am so stupid, I’ll never get it, I am so fat, I am so ugly, I don’t have what it takes to succeed, to be loved, etc.”

While you may think that it’s no big deal, I can assure you that it negatively reinforces your insecurities and your feelings of not being good enough.  I remember at the beach last Summer I heard a young’ish, 30 or so woman, keep on telling the man she was with that no she would not get into a bathing suit because she hated her legs.  She was wearing pants.  This seemed like a “dating” couple and I felt so sorry for her and wondered how the fellow with her felt at her constant self put-downs.  When she finally did change to a bathing suit, she looked perfectly fine, legs included.

You may argue that it would not help you to change if you simply ignored your mistakes or other flaws, imperfections,  and that reminding yourself that you need to improve is the way to go.

Well, let’s try another way.

First no one is perfect.  We all make mistakes, klutzy things, our bodies do not resemble that of a photoshopped model or that of the 18 year old or 25 year old we see in magazines, because most pictures are photoshopped.

When we are down on ourselves through negative self-talk, it’s usually as a result of some kind of comparison (the 18 year old’s body) or the successful colleague, or the glowing energetic neighbour, or someone’s car or holiday or bigger house.  Up to there, there is nothing wrong with seeing others have what we want.  Or with feeling dissatisfied with some of the things we have, whether it’s success, love or better health.

The way to start is to ask “is this something that I really want to change or am I reading too many glossy magazines, comparing my 45 year old body with that of an 18 year old or comparing my success as a beginner, dancer, entrepreneur, blogger, to someone who has been at it for the last 10 or more years, even 1 or 2 more years.  The same way, if your friend was born “into money” or married someone who makes double or triple your salary, you can’t compare.  It’s like comparing oranges to something else.

Then the second question is to ask “what am I willing to do to get better at this, and do I value it enough to give it my all?” or can I just accept that I will never win a dance competition but want to continue for the exercise and the fun (that’s one of mine), accept that I am not the greatest houskeeper around, but I prefer to read and to blog instead of having a spotlet house, or that I should not compare my starting blog to that one that has been around 5 years or my body has changed because I have had children and I could be the grandma to that 18 year old!

Then, commit to first stopping the abusive self-talk and accept that it will take some time to get it (perfect).  Second, do a reality check every time you catch yourself comparing yourself to others.  Third, commit to making the changes you want.  Whether it is to put more working hours in your business, or getting a cleaning lady if you really want a spotless home, or taking better care of your health, both with nutrition and exercise.

Finally, end each day with writing 3 things you are grateful for in your life, whether it’s your health, your kids, your partner, your best friend, the country where you live, today’s sunset.  And appreciate yourself for 3 things you did today: caught yourself about to insult yourself, ate better, took a walk at lunch, had that talk with your spouse to clear a misunderstanding, cleaned the fridge, talked kindly to yourself, made for time to accomplish your goal.

Just like toxi relationships are the greatest energy suckers, so is self-abuse, and negative self-talk is self-abuse.  When you change the way you talk to yourself, you will have more emotional energy and this will translate into more physical energy.  It may feel imperceptible at first, but one day you will wake up and be totally in awe of the wonderful human being that has emerged.

You may want to enlist the help of a friend, or a partner to remind you when they hear you being hard on yourself.  Changing an ingrained habit takes time.  Be patient with yourself.

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know and share with your friends.

P.S. Check the EFT link (Emotional Freedom Techniques) in my resource page – you can use it to stop the negative self-talk




Drop your guilt to lower your stress


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Stress and guilt and forgiving yourself

Guilt, like any other emotion, is your internal GPS.  It’s your conscience speaking when you have not respected your moral compass.  It’s a sign to do something different, and to apologize for the misbehaviour.

Unfortunately, many of us, while born with an intact moral compass, have grown up in ways that put that compass out of whack.  It overfunctions so we find ourselves feeling guilty even when we have not done anything wrong because we inherited our parent’s guilt.  It’s passed through generations and it shows up as toxic guilt.

We can feel guilty for not meeting the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves, whether it’s about something we did when we did not know better or how we don’t manage to keep up today, also called the Superwoman or Superman syndrome.  We can so so feel guilty when we get involved with people who are masters of manipulation, have unrealistic expectations of us and always blame others.

One particularly insidious form of toxic guilt (the non-real type), comes from having grown up in a dysfunctional home – home with either parental alcoholism, mental illness, violence, neglect, etc.  This makes us prone to feeling responsible for others because it was a responsibility put on us (being parentified) when our parents were less than able to mentally and emotionally take care of our needs.

This inherited toxic guilt (and shame too) makes us work harder and harder to please and to take care of other people’s emotions, leaving our needs out of the equation.

I worked in the field of addiction for over 20 years.  Mostly with women, addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs, including prescription drugs.  One common theme in addiction is guilt – about 100% of my clients carried guilt.  For having used, i.e. done drugs or drunk, for having neglected their kids, spouse, friends, jobs, finances.   Guilt figured highly in the time we spent together.  Guilt also figured largely in the lives of my clients as it was often a huge trigger for a binge or a relapse.

While they had an extremely hard time and strong resistance to forgiving themselves, these same women were extremely generous – sometimes too generous – excusing other people’s behaviours.  Often very abusive behaviours.

This difficulty forgiving ourselves is not limited to the world of addiction.  If you ask 10 people around you whether they have a hard time forgiving themselves, most will say yes.  And those same people will say it’s a lot easier to forgive others.  Maybe you too will admit you find it easier to forgive others than to forgive yourself. I often have to talk to myself when I see myself starting to beat myself up.  The good news I now catch it pretty quickly and you can too.

Holding on from truly forgiving does affect more than our moods.  Whether we don’t make peace with what someone did or we did, those repressed emotions of anger, hurt, pain are stored in the body and it affects our health.

What is the difference between forgiving and making excuses, also called pseudo-forgiveness?  And why is it important to know the difference and make sure we truly forgive ourselves?

Why does self-forgiveness sound so self indulgent to so many people? Like I said at the beginning, when we grow up we have to be responsible because we cannot count on the adults in our life, there is a good chance we don’t always succeed and this unfair burden sets the stage for not feeling good enough.  This in turn makes us feel we have to try harder to feel worthy and not feeling worthy makes it very hard to even think about letting ourselves off the hook when we don’t reach perfection.

You don’t need to be abused or like Rhonda Britten, author of Fearless Living, to see your dad gun your mother down and then turn the gun on himself.   It can be living day in and day out with a workaholic dad, or an alcoholic mom, or dad,  like losing a parent in childhood, or like me, being sent to live with relatives for a year because my mom was sick.

For someone else it can be because money was tight and they did not have as much as the neibourhood kids or being the youngest of a big family and feel like an afterthought.  Or a thousand other reasons you felt you did not measure up.  So instead of believing you made a mistake, you start feeling you are a mistake.  A loser. A no-good nobody.

Imagine the fear of looking inward when you believe you are a mistake or that you are so bad (because that’s what abuse led you to believe) that you don’t deserve to feel good, to let yourself off the hook, to find some peace and happiness.

What real forgiveness is not is minimizing what happened  “it was not so bad”, making generalizations “it happens to everybody”, too early “understanding” “he was doing his best”, “that’s how it was done then”, etc

Real forgiveness involves a very profound reflection and holding our pain, touching it and grieving the loss of what did or did not happen and the effect it has had on our life.  It’s a painful process – although it does not have to be long.  I remember the moment I did it for my being sent away from from my parents when I was 9 years old.  I cried what I had not cried at 9.  I extended empathy for the child I was then, feeling alone and scared.  It left me raw for a couple of days, then it started healing.

The important aspect is we must acknowledge the effect, acknowledge the pain and often the anger,  instead of using humour or other means to push it away.  The same holds true for forgiving ourselves.  Which is not like saying “oh, well, it happens”, or “too bad”.  Forgiving ourselves also involves an interior voyage to touch the guilt and often the shame associated with what we either did or did not do.  It involves acknowledging our responsibility for what happened and then choosing to forgive ourselves for our own sake and that of those around us.

In the process of forgiving ourselves, it’s important to take responsibility only for our behaviours and avoid taking the responsibility of others.  This is especially important for those of us who have a big tendency to feel responsible for everything.  Most likely if you are reading this, you may fall in that category since people who never feel responsible seldom read personal growth material.

So, how are you going to do it? To forgive others but first of all, to forgive yourself ?   The first step is to look at whether you are guilty of anything. Did you do something wrong and did you do it willfully?  If you did not do it willfully, you are still responsible but you are not guilty of anything. Guilt implies that there was an intent.  No intent no guilt.  Second, do you tend to feel guilty and to take on the sins of the world, or your family and friends?  Here you have to look at whether you are the scapegoat of the family or whether you are dealing with a narcissist or a sociopath.  Those are the people who never, but never feel guilty.  How to recognize them: they never apologize or do it quick without feeling, with a “whatever” thrown in to signify they are just placating you.   Then go gently, very gently.  You are going to have to make the decision to love yourself unconditionally – that is with all that you find wrong and ugly in you, including those things you don’t want to forgive.

If you did willfully commit an act that constitutes a crime, then as Mira Kirshenbaum explains, put yourself on trial and decide on an appropriate sentence.  If you can repay or make amends to whoever you hurt, do so if it is safe to do.  If not you can make a donation to a charity or commit to doing volunteer work for a certain amount of time.  And then, you have to let it go.  The same way you let go and make peace with other people’s misbehaviours, you do with yourself too.

The bottom line is it all starts with loving yourself and that requires a big decision.  There is no way around it.  And blindly.  With a leap of faith.  Trusting that what you have done up to now has not worked and trusting that what I say is true and is backed by science: self-compassion and self-forgiveness is essential for your health.

While alcoholics and addicts go and relapse when they don’t forgive themselves, you may just continue stuffing yourself with junk food .  Sweets (and alcohol) give a physical energy spike which translates into an emotional energy spike.  It’s also called medicating your emotions.  Or maybe you will continue shopping too much, sleeping too much, or not enough, or gambling, or  somehow sabotaging yourself and your happiness.

If you find it difficult to do the self-forgiving, give yourself a gift and find a qualified counselor, psychologist or psychotherapist to help you so you can unload that unfair family baggage.  You will breathe easier and you will have more to give to your loved ones.

Let me know how you plan to unload that heavy “guilt” baggage.

If you ever thought of starting your own blog or know someone who does, look at this.  You can be on your way to blogging for $3.45 a month ($41.40 a year).   Makes a great gift for the artist or writer in the family.







The 4 reasons you started tolerating and what to do about it

 stop tolerating - set limits
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This could have been titled “how to learn to set limits because your health depends on it.”    Because we do teach people how to treat you, either by doing something or not doing something and whatever we end up tolerating  does have an impact on our health.  If you have been putting up with other people’s bad behaviour, this is the right place for you.

What you should not tolerate

When we say “ toxic relationships” a lot of what has been written is about romantic relationships and family relationships.  And those are the most important ones in our life because those people should be the ones who can be a soft shoulder to land on and they should be the safest.

However, any relationship can be hazardous to your health.  Bad bosses, insensitive co-workers, bossy friends, intrusive neighbours and all the other takers that are in your environment can impact your health negatively, sometimes as bad as closer relationships, if you let them.

Examples of stuff you should not tolerate: someone who does not respect your “No” and tries to intimidate you by making you feel guilty, stupid, not intelligent, etc.  Someone who insults you, calls you fat, stupid, or worse.  Someone who talks behind your back.  Someone who tries to force you to do anything.  Someone who does not respect the agreement you had with them. Someone who criticizes you constantly.   Someone, a boss who abuses of your goodwill and expects you to work overtime, either without pay or habitually, when he-she knows you have family or other obligations.  Someone who yells at you – be it partner, boss, co-worker, friend or neighbour. A co-worker who does not pull his or her weight.  Someone who takes your possessions without permission – borrowing means to ask first.  Someone who uses jokes to belittle you and tells you you have no sense of humour.  I could go on and on.  Usually you can recognize you are about to tolerate because you don’t feel good about what is happening.  I did not mention physical abuse: slaps, blows, pushing, etc. because they are obvious.

Why we tolerate

If you are in an unhappy marriage, friendship or other relationship or in the job with a bad boss for a while,  it may have become the norm. It most likely became the norm because you avoided speaking up the first time something unpleasant was said or done, by your partner or the boss or the colleague.  And if you avoided speaking up at the beginning, it was 1) most likely because you did not want to rock the boat, or 2) you did not think it would happen again, or 3) you were afraid of their reaction or 4) you did not think you had the right to. You may have convinced yourself it was no big deal.  The psychological forms of abuse are harder to pinpoint simply because we can be manipulated into feeling we are too sensitive, we have no sense of humour, we are party poopers, etc.  The literature is clear that many in those unhealthy relationships do not realize there are in unhealthy relationships because they have low self-esteem and they blame themselves for their problems (and they often never saw what a healthy relationship was.)  If they were treated poorly as children, they simply believe that that’s life.

Many of us have been brought up to “be nice”.  Not that being nice is not nice.  It’s absolutely better than being rude or arrogant.  But the being nice we have been told to practice means to be tolerant (tolerate), to try to understand, to put our needs last and stop being so selfish, to not ask for what you need or want.   Unfortunately not speaking up and swallowing your unhappiness can be can be lethal to your health, both your physical and mental health(s).

Speaking up is also scary because we are afraid it will lead to people breaking off the relationship.  The more unhealthy your family of origin was, the more likely you are to tolerate in life, unless you became an abuser or a bully, in which case you would not by reading this article.  The more the relationship is important, the scarier it becomes to speak up.  And the less self-esteem and self-confidence we have, the more we become sitting ducks for those who like to take advantage.

How tolerating affects your health

How does a lack of setting boundaries impact your health? Let’s just look at one time when you were nervous about an interview, or the time you almost had a car accident, or the first misunderstanding with your sweetheart, or the time a loved one was very late and you were worried “sick”.  All these events have one thing in common: stress.  Whether it was the nervousness, the sadness or the worry, you most likely felt it in your body.  Sweat, digestive issues, palpitations, headache, difficulty sleeping, etc.

Now imagine that this kind of stress becomes chronic.  So chronic that you don’t even realize it anymore.  Yes you have headaches, trouble sleeping, digestion problems, but you can’t pinpoint it to one single event like in the above paragraph..

In a 2000 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who had moderate or severe marital strain had 2.9 times more chances to need heart surgery, to suffer heart attacks or to die of heart disease.  The same holds for unmarried women who lived with their life partner.  Dr Dean Ornish, a cardiologist who treats his patients with diet, also reports that a good marriage has a huge influence on the health of his patients and their recovery from heart disease.  “The diet can play a significant role,” he said. “But nothing is more powerful than love and intimacy.”   You can read more in his book Love and Survival.

From The American Psychosomatic Society we learn that more conflicts and disagreements put one at higher risk of elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, and elevated bad cholesterol.

The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in a 1993 issue links marital conflicts with disruptions of the immune system and the Journal of Physiology and Behaviour links marital distress to a worse recovery from breast cancer.

Analyzing data from nearly 5000 participants, with a follow up at 10 years, researchers have scientifically established what most people know intuitively. If your relationships are bad, your mood is likely to follow.  “Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression,” says psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, of the University of Michigan. …  “The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” Teo says. “What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression.”


I would like to say that speaking up and setting boundaries will always work out, but I can’t because there will be times it won’t.  Not only it won’t but it can cause huge drama and break the relationship.  Although it can be upsetting when it happens, we must remember that if we want to live a healthy life, we also must let go or minimize the time we spend with less than healthy individuals.  Even if it does not work out well, I can vouch for the fact that every time you exercise your “setting limits”muscle, you will feel more confident and you will be proud of yourself for really taking care of yourself.  I know it did for me.

If you are dealing with mature people, there is a good chance that you can come to an understanding and mutual respect for your needs and the other person’s needs.  However, the more toxic or immature the person you are dealing with, the worse the chance of a peaceful resolution. If you are dealing with someone who is emotionally immature or worse, toxic, there are good chances they will turn your request to respect your needs as an attack and it will end up in a shouting match.   If you are dealing with someone who has been physically violent or you fear can be, do not attempt to reason with them.  For your sake, get outside help or if, as it happened to me in a bus a long time ago, being harassed and threatened by a male passenger, keep quiet and try to get away, fast.

How to set limits

Give yourself a break if you are terrified of setting limits after many months or even years of tolerating.  It’s a process and we have to learn and practice.  It’s also easier to practice when the stakes are not very high. Easier to say no to an acquaintance than to a friend, or a life partner.  Start small.  Learn to say “No”.  One of my favorite sentences is “it does not work for me”.  I also used that sentence to terminate a romantic relationship.

I you want to come to an understanding with someone who is usually stable and mature, do use the “I feel…. when you…. and I need-prefer-want…….  Can we talk about it.”  A good way to start the conversation is to express how much you value the relationship and that’s why you are coming to them to find a solution that will benefit both of you and make you feel closer.

If you have found this article useful, please share it with your friends and your network.  If you would like to work on becoming more assertive and would like to work with me, please use the form in the Contact Us to send me a message.


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