“Most important, realize that you are human being; We aren’t meant to be perfect.” with Kristin Bornstein

Most important, realize that you are human being. We aren’t meant to be perfect. Working on acknowledging and believing that you are great just as you are, even with flaws. Our flaws are there to teach us how we can improve upon ourselves, not to strive to be perfect. Go easy on yourself but also […]

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Most important, realize that you are human being. We aren’t meant to be perfect. Working on acknowledging and believing that you are great just as you are, even with flaws. Our flaws are there to teach us how we can improve upon ourselves, not to strive to be perfect. Go easy on yourself but also learn and grow. There is no growth when you judge yourself. Learning about yourself from a nonjudgmental stance will increase your self-love.

As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Kristin Bornstein, LMHC. Kristin is a licensed therapist and life coach. She has her masters in family and marriage therapy and mental health therapy. Kristin currently owns a private practice for over ten years and has been practicing for fifteen years. In addition to being a therapist, Kristin is also a life coach. She specializes in helping women focus on living the healthiest versions of themselves, going for their dreams and creating real purpose in their lives. In Kristin’s free time, she focuses on spending time with her family. She loves doing anything adventurous, including going on her dream trip to the Everest Base Camp. When not out adventuring, she loves local bookstores, anything having to do with Egyptology, and creating stone sculptures.

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

My career path started when I was young, without realizing it. As a child and teenager, I was always involved in volunteer work. I really loved volunteering and helping others. As I got older, I knew that I wanted to be in a helping profession and liked helping people with their problems. Becoming a therapist was a natural fit for me. As I continued my work as a therapist, I realized that I not only enjoyed working with mental health concerns, but also, helping people live to their full potential, live their purpose, and create a life they desire. This is how I decided to start my work as a life coach. I wanted to create change in other’s lives, but in a different way than I do as a therapist.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I am in the process of writing a book. The book is about how self-love ignites your internal power to live a life where you are empowered, joyful and alive. The book delves into how to create the best self-care practices so you can access the unlimited power you have inside in order to make your life whatever you want. You are taught how to tap into this power and use it for the greatest good for your life, for those around you and in the world.This book starts with our own self-care and then expands into how we can expand our lives to create a positive impact in the world.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

My journey of increased self-love was created from a struggle that turned out to be one of the biggest successes in my life. It is an experience that I am proud of myself for working through and ended up coming out a stronger person for it. The decision to coach women grew out of this deep transformative experience I had years ago where I was challenged in my capabilities.

I had spent many months training to go to the Everest Base Camp. I thought I was prepared, but as my flight was coming to a landing in Kathmandu, a wave of panic and nausea came over me. I had flown across the world by myself only to meet up with a group of strangers and to then trek to the highest peak in the world. In that moment, I thought I was delusional for thinking this was a good idea.

I had always thought of myself as confident and had the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to. In this instance, I felt that I had lost this part of me. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the trip. As the trip got underway, I began really enjoying the experience and the company. I starting feeling more confident in my mental and physical capabilities. This experience led me back to realizing that I can do anything I put my mind to. This completely changed how I deal with challenging situations. I now feel more confident in being able to rely on myself. This experience led me to become an even stronger, resilient and confident person.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

There are a number of reasons that people are unhappy with their appearance. There is of course, the influence of media and marketing that affects the way people think about their physical appearance. I would however, like to talk more about some of the more subtle reasons that people dislike their appearance. These reasons can be very powerful influences. These reasons can include: feeling judged and embarrassed by how they look, a negative comment, or their body not being an accurate reflection of how they want to feel. Other reasons include: feeling like their appearance caused them to be turned down for a date or job, underperformance in a physical activity, clothes not feeling good or fitting well on their body, feeling too tall or short. These reasons are pervasive because these are the things that people experience on a daily basis.

Over time it becomes ingrained as a belief that people have about themselves. These beliefs become more ingrained when a person starts associating who they are based on their appearance. It can look like, “ I am fat because I’m lazy. Neither may be true, but you are giving yourself the message that you don’t like how you look and it’s because of some character defect. It’s about reshifting how you approach your inner voice. Instead of the above comment, a healthier approach may be, “I would like to be more productive in my day. How can I do this?” Now we are stepping away from appearance and looking specifically at what you would really want, instead of not want. Being more productive gives you the opportunity to do something that would improve your life.

People can associate how they look with what happens in their life more often than looking at other possibilities that could be more accurate. We have grown up with messages that if we look a certain way, we will have our dream relationship, dream job, perform at our peak level. The danger in this is that we then don’t end up acknowledging the real reason we say, didn’t get the promotion. We then can never do anything about the real reason because they are so focused on their appearance as being the root cause.

Focusing on appearance pulls us away from making our morals, beliefs, and values the most important factor of who we are as people. When we shift the focus to who we are as a person, our identity becomes more tied into how we want to conduct ourselves and how we want to live each day. When our identity is tied into our appearance, it reduces our self-esteem. We only see ourselves at face value and we start to lose who we are underneath. It reduces our ability to see the positive aspects of who we are. We begin to have trouble seeing our own intrinsic worth. This in turn creates a disconnect to the things we are capable of doing in our life and then creates a vicious downward cycle where appearance becomes our worth.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Our self-love is the foundation of how we live our life. Self-love cultivates self-esteem. When we have increased self-esteem, we increase our self-respect. We are more likely to only allow people and situations into our lives that improve the quality of our life and with whom we can have a mutually respectful relationship.

We are able to stand up for what we know is right for us and make decisions based on this. We are less likely to feel pressured by others opinions or expectations of us. Our self-respect becomes the number one factor in our decisions regardless of how difficult the decision may be. We are mentally and emotionally strong enough to follow through on healthy but tough decision.

When we love ourselves, we begin to look at possibilities for our life. We believe in ourselves and that we can do or accomplish our dreams and goals in life. We open ourselves up to taking on challenges that will improve our life. We no longer accept mediocrity because we know that our potential is limitless.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

There are a number of different reasons people stay in mediocre relationships. The relationships we pick are largely due to how we perceived our parents relationship as children. If a person sees their parents relationship as mediocre they may then enter into a highly enmeshed, passionate, high conflict, relationship to compensate for not wanting to be like their parents. Alternatively, a person may enter into a similar relationship as their parents. In either case, both would be considered mediocre because you are not in a relationship that is truly healthy for you. This is not to say that a person can’t have a healthy relationship if their parents have a mediocre relationship.

You may decide to maintain mediocre relationships because people tend to be adverse to change, not feeling like they can do better, or comfortable knowing what to expect. There is also a fear of future relationships being worse than the current one.

Also, people stay in mediocre relationships because of the fear of being rejected. The fear of being rejected by someone that they may really feel is a good match for them is greater than just putting up with the current relationship.

There is an element of being afraid of being alone. A person may feel that a mediocre relationship is better than no relationship. There is a deep fear of being alone and they choose to be someone that they know will be with them even if it’s not the best match.

There can also be an inner fear of getting too close to someone or an issue with your own confidence. If you’re not comfortable with getting close to people, then you may feel like a mediocre relationship is best.

You also know that there can be more emotional distance in a mediocre relationship. The other person won’t challenge you to be a better person leading you to not work on yourself as much as when you are in a healthy relationship. You can glide along without having to really work on the relationship. There can be a discomfort in emotional intimacy with a partner, and that can keep a person comfortable in a mediocre relationship.

If the relationship is mediocre around physical intimacy, it can be due to past negative sexual experiences. If the sex is mundane, or there is a lack of sex, it keeps that person in a safe zone where they are likely to be less emotionally activated by the past sexual experience. Perhaps it is too scary to work on the past sexual experience, or a person finds it easier to always know what to expect from sex so there aren’t any surprises.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Self-love is about always challenging ourselves to make us better. Some great questions to ask ourselves to continue to grow as a person are:

1. What would your life and relationships look like if you loved yourself unconditionally?

2. What is one thing that you find consistently gets in the way of you being a better person, or making better decisions? Why is this? What is one thing you can do to start working on yourself in this area?

3. What are three traits you would like to improve upon? Why is this important to you? How would improving these three traits change how you view yourself and how would your relationships look?

4. What beliefs you have about yourself that you think could be improved? Where did those beliefs stem from? What would you like to believe about yourself instead? How can you start creating the evidence that you are believing and living this improved belief?

5. If there’s a conflict, What is my part in this conflict? Why did I say, or react the way I did? What can I do to work on this so I can react better next time?

I’m not sure if there is one defining example of a time that I needed to reflect and make changes. I honestly feel like this happens on a regular basis. I believe as a coach and therapist, it is important for me to continue to look at myself and challenge myself for the better since it is the work I ask of my clients. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t do the same work.

I would have to say that I am challenged the most to improve myself in my relationship with my husband. He isn’t afraid to tell me when I’ve said something, done something that was out of line or that I could have done better. He is always my cheerleader and support and also the person that is always challenging me to be a better person, rise to the occasion and challenges me to strengthen my resolve when things don’t go right. This causes me to do a lot of inner reflection around the type of person I strive to be, how I want to live my life, the type of person I want to be to others. My goal is to do the best work on myself that I can in order to best help my clients.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

There are many important aspects of being able to spend time alone, but many people are held back from being alone for a multitude of different reasons. Some people are either uncomfortable with who they are and they may not feel good about themselves. They may feel anxious or depressed, which makes it difficult to enjoy either spending time on their own or being alone.

If you’re struggling with being alone there are a number of things you can do to work towards feeling comfortable with yourself. To start, it can help to pick an activity that you have to engage in mentally or physically. This can help to keep your brain from wandering back to the fact that you’re doing something on your own. Start slow with this activity. If you know a half-hour is too long, try doing that activity for fifteen or twenty minutes to start feeling comfortable. Try doing this every other day. You want to make this consistent so you start getting used to being alone and hopefully liking your own company! Then, build up the time you are spending by yourself as the fifteen or twenty minutes gets easy.

The time people spend with themselves can be highly beneficial. As the comfort of being alone increases, so does the enjoyment of the experience of being alone. You can start using this space as a retreat from the outside world. It is a place you can go when you need time to rest, gather your thoughts, become introspective and rejuvenate your energy.

You will also start to learn new things about yourself and grow as a person. We can really get introspective with our thoughts and feeling about our life, job, things going on around us, the world, just about anything. We start to notice the things that really light us up, things that we are passionate about, and things that make us angry or upset.

Spending time alone helps us to learn how to hold space for ourselves when we are having a hard time. We can use this space to support ourselves emotionally or to do something for ourselves that make us feel better. We learn what makes ourselves feel better and how we can be self-reliant when challenged or when things don’t go as planned.

When we spend time alone, we are on our own agenda and time. It can be so freeing to spend the time you have doing exactly what you want to do. You don’t have to be concerned about what another person wants to do, if they’re enjoying themselves, or feeling like you have to entertain another person. You get to relax into having your own space.

At the end of the day it is about enjoying our own company because we have to live with ourselves and may as well enjoy our own journey.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

When we are able to love ourselves, we are able to care for and love others.

We are able to more deeply connect with others. When we know who we are, what we stand for, what our beliefs, morals and values are, we have a stronger sense of self. As a person goes deeper in self-understanding, they can then take that self awareness and start creating relationships with a similar basis. This creates rich relationships in our lives. When we are willing to go deeper within ourselves, we can feel comfortable taking our relationships to a deeper level. This strengthens and enhances the relationships we are in.

As we get to know ourselves better and feel comfortable with ourselves, we become a more positive person. This positivity is expressed through how we decide to go through our daily lives, and interact with others. As we are more positive, we will have more positive interactions and relationships with others.

When we develop increased self-love, we are less likely to judge ourselves harshly, and increase how we care for ourselves. Loving ourselves is the first step in loving others. We are then less likely to judge others. We increase our sense of empathy and caring towards others which deepens our relationships.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

There are a number of ways people can better understand themselves. This can be done through introspective work such as journaling about:

  1. Things that elicit different emotions and why they make you feel that way
  2. Priorities you have in your life, and what you would like to prioritize in your life
  3. Dreams and goals
  4. Points of view on different topics and why you have those views
  5. How you have been able to overcome challenges in your life. How you handle difficult situations. How you problem solve.
  6. What your strengths and weaknesses are
  7. What things you like and don’t like. What you like/don’t like to do.
  8. How you take feedback.

These journaling prompts are not for you to judge yourself on, but to better understand yourself. If there are areas that you see could use improvement you can now be proactive and work on yourself.

You can also put yourself in situations that get you out of your comfort zone and challenge you. You can learn so much about yourself when you step out of the norm. You see how you handle challenges, what you are capable of, how you can improve on different areas of your life. Often, even if something is scary, it can be the most rewarding experience and create a stronger sense of self.

Most important, realize that you are human being. We aren’t meant to be perfect. Working on acknowledging and believing that you are great just as you are, even with flaws. Our flaws are there to teach us how we can improve upon ourselves, not to strive to be perfect. Go easy on yourself but also learn and grow. There is no growth when you judge yourself. Learning about yourself from a nonjudgmental stance will increase your self-love.

It can be easiest to do this by stepping back, looking at the situation, your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and then asking yourself what you’ve learned, and how you can manage or look at things differently going forward.

As a society we can spend time offering ourselves and our time towards helping others. When we offer help, a kind word, support to someone or a group of people that need help, we are in essence saying that we’re here for you, you’re worth it, and can make things better for yourself. When we come together to help others, it takes away the stigma or belief that there is something wrong with that person or that group of people. Feeling that inclusion and caring, can help people feel better about themselves.

When we take time and get to know and listen to a specific groups beliefs or actions, we can often walk away with a greater understanding of others, and ourselves. Ask them to explain what they mean, ask questions that may make both parties think. Create dialogue, not argument about a topic. This creates the opportunity for both groups to think about where they stand, and to respect and feel respected when communicating in this way.

We can all do small things collectively that help people individually and as a society as a whole. It can be things like giving a smile, kind word, listening, helping, offering something to someone in need. If we all did these small and easy actions on a daily basis and made them a priority, we would have a society where people felt included, loved, and accepted. Research shows that when we help, we then feel better about ourselves. We identify ourselves as caring and loving.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

There are a number of different things that I do that helps to maintain a connection with myself and increase my self-awareness.

1.I spend time alone in nature. There are so many benefits of not only having some contemplative alone time, but also being in nature. Nature helps to reduce stress, improve mood, create clarity as well as so many other benefits. Whenever I’m struggling with something, need perspective, ideas, or a place to relax, I always go to the woods. When I’m there, I am much more effective in problem solving, receiving clarity and coming up with inspired ideas.

2. I spend time learning. There is a Buddhist monastery in my town and I teach the monks English. I also take stone sculpture classes. In both these experiences as a teacher and student, there is so much I learn about myself. In reality, I’m a student to the monks. The lessons I teach the monks are nothing in comparison to the life lessons they teach me. In my stone sculpture classes, I am challenged. I learn new things, make mistakes (a lot of them) and realize that a mistake can bring about the most beautiful sculpture.

3. I push myself out of my comfort zone. Being outdoors is a huge part of my life. I find that I learn the most about myself when I try something new outdoors. This can be something that pushes my limits or makes me nervous. It teaches me more about what I am capable of, how I can better handle challenging situations, and how to accept myself even if I’m not successful at what I set out to do. It forces me to connect to myself on a physical, mental and emotional level. I find that I am most challenged when it comes to rope courses where I am high off the ground as I’m afraid of heights and have a fear of falling.

Attempting something new can make you feel really great that you tried it, regardless of the outcome. Stepping out of your your comfort zone enlivens you with possibilities for your life that you maybe wouldn’t have ever considered. This makes our life more rich in experience.

4. I spend time reading about anything that helps me grow as a person. I read things that challenge the status quo, that make you think, and books that help to contemplate on self-improvement. I like reading about different perspectives, beliefs, and ways of living that may enhance my own life. Learning from others is such a great way to evaluate your own thoughts and beliefs. It teaches you more about what you believe and know about yourself and what you stand for as a person.

5. I spend time meditating. When I meditate, it connects my breath to my body and helps me to recognize what I am physically experiencing. It also forces me to acknowledge my thoughts. Sometimes our thoughts can be a running stream of things we don’t realize we are thinking. When we get quiet within ourselves, we are able to see all the thoughts that circulate in our heads. Meditation helps to quiet the unnecessary thoughts. It helps you to recognizing your running thoughts, not judging them as we all tend to do, and learning how to release the thoughts. This practice can be used in a practical sense in our life. We can step back, acknowledge what we think or believe, evaluate the situation and make a decision instead of quickly reacting.

When I meditate I realize that there is so much junk or random things that circulate in my head that I really don’t need. I am able to use my breath to calm myself down if a stressful or angry thought comes up. I am able to be more focused, less reactive and have more positive thoughts. The breathing meditation connects me on all levels of self and always helps me to gently care for myself more fully through how I chose to think and feel.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl- This is one of my ultimate favorite books. It’s premise is about a therapeutic approach called Logotherapy that Dr.Viktor Frankl created when he was in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. There is so much to learn about the human experience, identifying purpose in life even in challenging circumstances, feeling positive about it and imagining the outcome. It is about getting through the struggle with a clear picture of how you want things to be different and working towards that desire.

As a therapist, I love this book for it’s perspective on how we can all get through challenging situations and how we all can find purpose and meaning for our life even in the midst of struggle. This is one of my all time favorite books that opened my eyes to a positive and meaningful way of living.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman- This book helps couples to understand how their partner experiences and gives love. People can feel disconnected to their partner when each have a different way of experiencing love. It teaches how to better connect with your partner with each love language. This book can also be applied to any intimate relationship in a family or friend to better understand how you connect intimately with others.

This book has helped give me the perspective of how I need and show caring. It gives me the understanding that if I’m not feeling my type of love in a relationship, it may not be because that person isn’t giving me love, they are just showing it in a different way. It has helped to open me up to other ways of showing love.

Radical Acceptance- This is such a powerful book in helping you fully accept who you are just the way you are. It’s about freeing yourself from insecurities about not being good enough and appreciating who you are and in turn improving your relationship with others. This book is amazing in helping you break out of your own emotional programming that keeps us stuck from living a happy and meaningful life.

There is so much truth to what is discussed in this book. I have been able to look at myself in certain circumstances that I haven’t felt good about and start appreciating myself as I am in the present. Being able to appreciate and love myself is the most powerful thing I have experienced through what I learned from this book.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I have started the I’m Possible Movement. The movement is all about being and doing anything we want in our life without fear or doubt holding us back from living our best life. This movement is about building confidence in who we are and taking inspired action towards our dreams and goals.When we learn to be at our best, we can better the lives of everyone around us. The movement is about giving back, making an impact in the world and creating positive change. We create this change when we believe that we have the power within us to make anything happen!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? 
 Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. C.S Lewis

I love this quote because it gives me hope. Sometimes it is so easy to look back and even look at our current situation and have regret. If only I had or hadn’t done something, I would be in a better place. This quote reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life, I always have options in the present. I have the control to change my life now. I don’t need to worry about what I did wrong, messed up, made poor choices. I know that I can take my life in the current state and make the changes that I want to see in my life. This quote is so empowering to me to remember that I am never stuck in my current situation. I can always make things better.

How can our readers connect with you?

You can connect with me here: www.thebrazenadventuress.com

You can also email me directly here: [email protected]

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

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