What are Your Non-Negotiables in Your Romantic Relationship?

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Hello Friend, 

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this topic recently because I’ve noticed that it comes up quite a bit in my sessions with clients. Both those in romantic relationships and those looking to be in one. What I’ve come to learn is that each of us have certain values that are non-negotiable. That means that no matter how much we try or wish it to be different, there are aspects of ourselves that are just a part of who we are. 

Working in the area of self-help and development, the focus is often on changing ourselves. We are usually encouraged to change our beliefs, our thoughts, our behaviours and our perspectives. This in general can be a good thing. Most of us are holding onto beliefs, thought patterns, behaviours and perspectives that no longer serve us and keep us from living our best lives. However, I have noticed that with the desire for self-improvement, some of us have come to believe that we need to change every part of ourselves, particularly if we want to find love or stay in our relationships. 

While it is true that compromise is a corner-stone to a healthy, functional relationship, this doesn’t mean that we should not hold onto the core of who we are. We all need certain things to be present in our relationships in order to feel safe and most conflict results from either partner feeling unsafe in the relationship. 

For example, take money, which tends to be a hot button issue for most couples. If you are a person who finds it very important to manage your money responsibly - such as following a budget, making sure not to spend more money then you earn, not carrying debts, etc. No matter how much self-exploration you do, this will likely always be an aspect of who you are. There are ways that you can become less rigid about money, but, no matter what, you’re probably always going to be conscious and responsible with it. As a result, I would consider this aspect of you to be a non-negotiable. I think it would be a disservice to yourself and your partner to pretend like you can change that part of who you are. Instead, it would be more beneficial to embrace that part of yourself so you can be honest with yourself and your partner/potential partner. 

I don’t mean in a “f&%$ you” sort of way, but in a compassionate, self-aware sort of way. Speaking to your partner/potential partner honestly, without shame about who you are and not needing them to be the same way. By being honest about your non-negotiables, you can set the stage for a discussion about where the true opportunity is for compromise, as opposed to pretending that you can be who you are not. 

What this might look like in the above example is if you are the money conscious person and your partner/potential partner is not, you would be honest about that and hopefully s/he can also be honest about who they are. Then, you both can decide what financial arrangement would work best for your relationship. This could mean having a joint account where joint household expenses come out and you each contribute an amount towards. While at the same time, you each have your own separate accounts that you manage as you see fit. Another possibility, could involve you primarily managing the joint finances but allowing your partner to have some freedom to spend or take risks with a portion of money. There are numerous other creative possibilities. It doesn’t matter what the arrangement is, it just has to be an arrangement that honours who you both are and takes into account the fact that each of you have parts of yourself that are fundamental to who you are – i.e. non-negotiable. 

I’ve noticed many people get into trouble in relationships because in the beginning they were more focused on finding love than on being honest about who they are and attempting to find a partner who can accept that. While I appreciate wanting to put your “best foot” forward in order to attract a partner, you are more likely to save yourself heart-ache and frustration if you can be yourself up-front. At least then you know the person is attracted to the “real” you, instead of who you’ve mislead them to believe you are.

I would love to hear from you about your non-negotiables. Please respond in the comment section below. 

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult. 

Looking forward to connecting!


Sandra xo

The Importance of Authenticity

At Ste. Anne's Spa In Grafton, ONT

At Ste. Anne's Spa In Grafton, ONT


Hello Friend, 

I’ve seen both of the Bad Moms movies starring Mila Kunis, and each time with a group of Moms. And, I’ll be honest, I find both of the movies hilarious and uplifting. Upon reflection, I’ve realized that these movies speak to the reality that as women we are really hard on ourselves and each other.  We judge ourselves against some ideal of who we are supposed to be and, the truth is, none of us are measuring up to this ideal. Yet, there is this pressure to act like we are and then judge ourselves and others against this artificial standard.  

It's the idea that each one of us is trying to hide a secret - not a deep dark secret - but a subtle one. Many of us feel the need to act as though our lives are without problems. Or, if we do have challenges, they are easily overcome and do not have any lasting impact on us. This causes us to mislead ourselves and others. When we greet each other, we speak in generalities – “things are fine”, “kids are great”, “life is moving along…” We tend to fill our social media posts with the highlights of our life - pictures of our great vacations, cute kids and outings with family and friends. And, while overall things may be “fine” or even “good” because we are not experiencing any major life crisis, there is an undercurrent of unease in most all of our lives. We are all struggling with feelings of inadequacy and insecurities. With desires that are unfulfilled and dreams unrealized. There is a longing in all of us that is expressed through our obsession with celebrities, excessive shopping, consumption of mood-altering substances and our criticism of one another. We believe we are fooling each other by withholding the fact that each one of us is human, which means that we are each imperfect no matter how much we try. 

This is why we respond to movies like Bad Moms because it unearths the reality that we are exhausted from keeping up with appearances and really want permission to openly share our ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, confidence and insecurities, as well as our desires and disappointments. So today, I encourage you to be brave enough to share your truth with at least one person. When someone asks you how you are doing take a moment and answer honestly. Or, post something a little more vulnerable about yourself on social media. By doing this, you give others permission to be honest with you and you might be surprised to learn that you are not alone in how you are feeling. Instead, we are all sharing in this human experience of trying to find our way in the peaks and valleys of life.  

As eloquently expressed by Teal Swan:

To become conscious and aware, we must become authentic. Authenticity is the highest form of being. 

I would love to hear from you about how you try to live authentically. Please write a comment in the section below. 

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult

Looking forward to connecting!

Best, Sandra xo

 #BadMoms #TealSwan #authenticity #trueself

5 Ways You Can Transform Negative Emotions

Hello Friend,

If you are anything like me, for a long time I believed that negative emotions were to be avoided at all costs. And, the fact that I was having them meant there was something wrong with me. As a result, all my efforts were focused on suppressing these emotions and when I couldn’t seem to suppress them, I spent a lot of energy beating myself up about it.

It took me many hours of therapy, training, reading and reflecting to realize that negative emotions are a necessary part of life, and (if you let them), can be your path to living a happier life. So, I hope this post adds some value and assists you in transforming your negative emotions into something empowering:

Step 1:             Stop and Breathe

When you notice yourself moving into a negative feeling – i.e. a place of feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, misaligned, distressed – stop and take 3 deep, deliberate breaths. 

Step 2:             Name what you are feeling

Too often, we don’t even know what we are feeling or we limit the range of our emotions to happy, sad or angry. Take a moment to go a bit deeper and perhaps tap into a wider range of emotions. Below is a list of some negative emotions you can use as a guideline:

-       Indifferent                                     Boredom

-       Confusion                                     Frustration

-       Irritation                                        Impatience

-       Disappointment                            Discouragement

-       Pessimism                                     Doubt/Lack of Faith

-       Distrust                                         Grief

-       Fear                                              Anxiety/Worry

-       Lost                                               Insecurity

-       Loneliness                                    Emptiness/Disconnection

-       Resentment                                  Blame

-       Revenge                                       Hatred

-       Rage                                             Jealousy

-       Powerlessness                             Hopelessness

-       Guilt                                              Unworthiness

-       Shame                                          Depression

Step 3:             Notice where the feeling resides in your body

For many of us we live primarily in our heads and don’t pay much attention to our bodies. However, our emotions always express themselves somewhere in our body. It is important to notice how negative emotions show up in your body: 1) to help you get clearer on what you are feeling; and 2) to gain a better understanding of how this emotion is affecting you. For example, anxiety and fear can show up as a stomach ache or a tightening in your chest – so when you have that feeling it can serve as a cue to assist you in recognizing and acknowledging that you are feeling anxious or fearful.

Step 4:             Accept the feeling and listen to what it is trying to tell you

Negative emotions have gotten a bad rep in our culture. Many of us believe we are supposed to be happy all the time or that having emotions (other than happiness) is a sign of weakness or abnormality. As a result, we put more effort into not feeling the emotion and pushing it aside, than simply paying attention to it and finding out what it is trying to tell us. You will move much faster through a negative emotion if you accept that you are feeling it and then listen to what it has to say.

For example, when I am feeling insecure in a given situation, if I can accept this feeling I don’t have to waste anytime denying that I feel insecure or beating myself up because I feel insecure. Instead, I can ask the feeling of insecurity what it wants me to know. In most cases, it is a sign that I am living from my ego, which usually confines me to the limiting belief that my value is only measured by what I do, what I have and my roles in life. It indicates to me that I have forgotten that I am bigger than my circumstances, I am connected to a universal energy far greater than myself and (most importantly), I am worthy simply because I exist. When I stop and reconnect to that wisdom, my feelings of insecurity shift.

Step 5:             Ask yourself “What is the Most Loving Thing I can do for Myself in This Moment”

After you have figured out what your negative emotion wants you to know, you then practice self-love by asking yourself the above question. This act makes you feel better, in part, because it stops the self-judgment/inner criticism from taking hold of you.

In the example I gave above with me feeling insecure, a self-loving act I could take includes repeating an affirmation such as “I am enough” (check out Louise Hay’s work on affirmations). I could also ask the universe to support me in letting go of my ego’s need to be ‘all knowing’ or superior, and instead, allow my curiosity and wonder to guide me on how I can show up authentically in the experience and release feelings of inferiority.

Whatever the act of self-love is, this exercise helps you learn and practice how to lovingly meet your own emotional needs in any given situation.

What are your thoughts?

I would love to hear from you about what you have found helpful in transforming your negative emotions or if you have tried the above 5 steps.

My passion is to help people discover their truth, so if you’re curious about how I can help you on that journey, please reach out and send me a message to book a free 30-minute consult.

Looking forward to connecting!


Sandra xo

In search of my soul…my journey to practicing psychotherapy

At bell Rock Vortex in Sedona, AZ

At bell Rock Vortex in Sedona, AZ

Hello Friend,

In 2014, I began to have an existential crisis. The truth is, many events had been leading me up to that point, but in 2014 it got to a place where I could no longer ignore it. I was having great difficulty trying to get pregnant with my second child, I had started working at a new law firm and for the first time I had a boss that did not “really” like me and it was becoming increasingly obvious that something in my life was off. 

I was struggling to figure out “what the problem was”, “what was I missing”, “how did I end up here”. In response to this crisis, I decided to go away for a retreat weekend at Grail Springs. The keynote speaker was Bari McFarland, a life coach who is also a Passion Test specialist. Bari was conducting a workshop on the Passion Test. My thinking was that this would help me get clarity on what my true passions were, which would inform what direction I should be taking with my life.

The weekend at Grail Springs started me on a path of self-discovery that I could have never expected. It literally changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I would never have imagined. In a series of serendipitous events, I ended up enrolling in the part-time Spiritual Psychotherapy program at the Transformational Arts College. Despite my background in social work, I never planned on being a therapist. My intention in enrolling in the program was to work on myself and ideally get clearer on who I was and where I should be going with my life. This was a step on the path to finding my soul. The fact that I would also receive a diploma in psychotherapy was a nice bonus that satisfied my practical side. But, what I came to learn is that practicing psychotherapy is actually at the heart of who I am.

During this program, I delved deeply into my psyche and spirit. It was a journey of really getting to know who I was spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and even physically. And to be honest it was really f&*@ing tough! It was scary and challenging to get honest with myself about who I am - the good, the bad and the ugly. And to learn to bring acceptance to all parts of myself in order to use them for my well-being, instead of self-destruction. To learn to forgive my family-of-origin and ultimately myself for all the crappy things that have happened to me along the way.

For most of us, we go through life never examining who we are and how we got to where we are. We tend to be so focused on doing and pay little attention to being. Yet, being is at the root of understanding everything we do and every decision we make. Without knowing this, we are essentially cut-off from who we are and blindly moving through life.

On the journey of searching for my soul, I have come to believe that life is always trying to get our attention and to bring us back to the essence of who we really are. The more we try to ignore this, the more life tries to get our attention. That is why for so many of us it takes a life crisis to get us to stop and look within. A job loss, illness, relationship break-down – these are all examples of the way life calls us to stop and pay attention to who we are and what we are supposed to be getting out of this journey we call life.

With this new knowledge, I realized that I have always loved the journey to the truth – people’s truth and universal truth. I have always been fascinated by our stories and how we live authentically. This awareness connected me to my passion of supporting others on their path of self-discovery.

How is your life trying to get your attention? What is it trying to tell you? If you feel like you are ready to listen or explore, I would love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below or send me a message.

Warmly, Sandra xo