You Betray Yourself Before You Betray Anyone Else

aesopYou are not your thoughts, and you are not your feelings. You are you; your thoughts and feelings come and go. Some of them are wonderful and inspiring, and hopefully you act on those. Some of them are untrue and unkind, and those are the ones best left to arise, peak, and subside. Witnessing your experience is always a powerful way to be in tune with how things are for you from moment to moment. Not every feeling deserves your energy. You don’t have to believe everything you think, as the saying goes, nor must you act on every feeling you have.

Years ago, one of my closest girlfriends was dating a man who cheated on her while he was at an ashram, and said he was “honoring the truth of what he felt.” He said it was a deeply spiritual experience, and that he was a “mysterious and enigmatic being.” There’s nothing spiritual or particularly mysterious about that. Honoring the truth of your experience in that scenario means observing your attraction toward someone other than the person with whom you’re in a committed relationship, without acting on it. It’s either a normal, passing attraction borne of the fact that you’re a human being, a mammal, a person with desires and fantasies, or it’s an indication that you need to regroup with your partner. Regrouping might mean taking a compassionate but honest look at the state of your relationship. Maybe you’ve been taking it for granted, and both you and your partner need to direct your energy toward the space between you. If you don’t feed and water it, it’s going to starve and die, after all. Maybe it’s already dead, and there’s no hope for resuscitation, and it’s time to have that conversation. Maybe this other person really is someone with whom you’re going to have a long, meaningful, lasting relationship, but starting out with deceit and a lack of integrity doesn’t bode well for anyone.

Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but most people, given the choice, would opt for painful conversation over betrayal. Betrayal is awful, because it can only happen at the hands of those we trust, and nothing shakes your faith in your own judgement more, than the sting of having made yourself vulnerable only to realize that your heart was not so important to the person with whom you entrusted it, after all.

Having said all of that, none of us will act from our highest selves in every moment. Sometimes we screw up in a huge way, and learn a painful lesson. There are all kinds of betrayals, after all. The truth is, the only way to break someone else’s trust, is to break your faith in yourself, first. We all want to feel in our hearts that we’re good people. Not perfect, but that we’re doing our best to be kind, that we know how to be a good friend, that we understand right from wrong. When we behave in a way that goes against what we know to be right or okay, we’re letting ourselves down. We’re showing a lack of self-respect. It’s really hard to feel good about yourself when you know your actions would cause pain to someone else if they knew what you were doing. That includes unkind things you might say behind the back of someone you purport to love, or an inability to be happy for the success of someone you care about. When we’re in a petty, judgmental place, that’s always an outward expression of inner pain. Something within us feels unworthy, not good enough, less than, and instead of leaning into that and having compassion for ourselves, we point it outward, and put it on someone else, but that feels even worse. Nothing makes us want to shower more than the stink and weight of gossip and mean-spiritedness.

If you’re in a stinking ditch of your own creation, it’s really time to climb, claw, and drag yourself out. If you can’t feel good about yourself, everything else is going to erode. That’s your foundation. If you’ve made huge mistakes, own them. Apologize. I’m not talking about unburdening yourself of guilt, here, so you can feel better and someone else has to suffer. Sometimes things are better left unsaid. It really depends on the situation, but if you’ve done something for which you feel terrible, and an apology is in order, have at it. If it’s something you have to grapple with on your own, get some support. Figure out what went wrong. Maybe you acted out of desperation. Maybe you’ve been putting your own needs on the back burner for so long, you justified one reckless act. Maybe you’ll receive forgiveness, maybe you won’t, but eventually, when you’ve learned everything you can about why you didn’t show up the way you wanted to, or the way you’d like to moving forward, you really have to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, it’s part of the gig of being human. If you were selfish, thoughtless, reckless with someone else’s heart, try to make amends, and do better moving forward. One of the things that gives us compassion and a forgiving nature with others, is our own ability to forgive ourselves for those times we made poor choices.

It’s not realistic or desirable to control every thought and feeling you have; in fact, anything you reject will push back four times harder. You don’t have to be horrified by your thoughts, you just want to observe them, and choose the ones that strengthen and nurture you, and take into account the feelings of those you love. Sometimes we behave poorly because we’ve refused to accept what’s true for us, and that’s like sitting on an active volcano. You can’t deny who you are, or the song in your heart. If the people around you have asked you to do that, they’re asking too much. You have to be you. The more you’re able to do that, the less likely it is you’ll act in ways you’ll regret, because your whole life will be directed by knowing who you are and what you need to be at peace. We really only get in trouble when we aren’t clear about that.

Sending you love, and a huge hug,

Ally Hamilton

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Stop the Cycle

oprahSometimes we get into a pattern with someone that just isn’t serving our highest good, or theirs. This happens a lot with toxic relationships. Usually, something in the dynamic is harkening back to old wounds for both parties. We’re driven to heal, but we often go about it in all the wrong ways.

Unacknowledged pain swims below the surface of everything we do, and until we bring this stuff into the light, we’ll keep calling it into our lives in unconscious ways. You know when you feel very triggered by someone? There’s an excellent chance they’re hitting a painful nerve. The thing is, when we attract people into our spheres so we can play out an ancient drama, we also attract people who are going to be very unlikely to help us rewrite the script.

If your dad left when you were four and you have abandonment issues you haven’t dealt with, it’s likely you’re going to be attracted to men or women who can’t commit. That way, your fear of being left is now in play, and you can go about the business of trying to claim your prize and procure your happy ending by getting your partner to be “yours”, but a person who has trouble committing is going to run like hell from that scenario. It could be they grew up feeling smothered by one parent or the other, so they’re both attracted and repelled by your neediness. We want to overcome those feelings and situations we couldn’t master as children, and our attachment styles play a big role in how we go about trying to do that.

Anyway, the point is, you won’t heal this way, you’ll just relive that old pain, and throw salt in a wound you’ve never addressed. You’ll take your partner’s inability to commit to you (or whatever issue it is you keep replaying), as a sign that you are in fact, unlovable, or easy to leave, or invisible, or whatever it is you fear the most, when the truth is, they have their own story and their own wounds. A person with fear of commitment fears all commitment. It’s what you represent, it isn’t you they’re rejecting, but that doesn’t matter, because if your heart is broken, it’s broken.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you simply face your pain. If you notice you keep repeating patterns in your life with family members, friends, partners, colleagues and strangers, it’s time to get some help. Identifying your issues is half the battle; you don’t want to stop there. You want to be able to rewire the system, and put a time-stamp on those things from your past that are still haunting you today. If you had a parent who overpowered you or made love a conditional thing, you don’t have to be afraid of intimacy for the rest of your life. You can work with your fear. You can meet it head on. You can be aware of it without acting on it, but it takes work, and you’ll almost definitely need support.

I highly recommend the combination of yoga and therapy. Therapy to me is the “top-down” part. You identify your issues and get really clear about your tendencies, weak spots, and potential pitfalls. Yoga is the “bottom-up” part. You get in your body and you breathe. Whatever your tendencies are, believe me they’ll follow you onto your mat. Yoga is confrontational by nature. You’ll get to deal with your habitual responses to challenge, frustration, and intense, uncomfortable sensation. Intense emotions create intense sensations—deal with this in on your mat, and you’ll be able to deal with it in your life. Over time, when you feel triggered, you’ll be able to breathe through those feelings without acting on them—running out the door, or lashing out, or saying or doing things you’ll later regret. Now you’re not stuck in the identification phase, you’re actually taking ownership of your issues, and refusing to let your past ruin your present and future. If you have a loud inner critic, you’ll become aware of that, and in so doing, you’ll give yourself the power to starve it. You’ll get to rewire your system from the ground up. Does it take dedication and determination? Yes. Is it easy? No. But you know what’s a lot harder? Not doing it and replaying your pain like you’re in a real-life version of “Groundhog’s Day.” Great movie, but no way to move through life.

Break the cycle and create something new for yourself that feels good. I’d trade short-term pain and discomfort for a lifetime of suffering any day of the week. I’d love to meet you in your living room and see if I can help you with this.

Sending you love, and wishing you peace,

Ally Hamilton

Give it Time

stripyourgearsSometimes our expectations of ourselves are so unrealistic. We have ideas about how we should feel, or where we should be at any given point in time, and if we aren’t meeting those markers, we feel disappointed in ourselves, or frustrated, or we wonder what’s wrong with us. This comes up a lot around grieving, mourning, and recovering from heartbreak of any kind. There’s no timer for this stuff; there’s no formula. It’s different for everyone, and dependent upon so many factors. But the last thing you need when you’re suffering, is to feel badly about yourself because you aren’t done suffering quickly enough.

Obviously it’s no fun to be pining or longing or missing people we cherish. Death is the most extreme version of this, of course. Grieving has no time limit. As Earl Grollman says, “The only cure for grief is to grieve.” No matter how much we understand we’ll all die eventually, it’s still almost incomprehensible when someone we love is ripped from us. It’s natural to want to hug the people we love, to hear their voices, their laughter, to hold their hands. The loss of a person is like the loss of a whole, beautiful world. There’s a shock to it, it seems impossible that the earth could keep spinning, and depending upon who’s been lost to you, and in what way they were taken, and at what point in your life and theirs, the impact may bring you to your knees. The only thing at a time like that, is to ask for help. Hopefully, you don’t even have to do that. Hopefully the people in your life know how to show up for you, at least some of them, so that you know you aren’t alone.

For many people, grief is difficult to witness, because it reminds them of their own mortality, the fragility of life, and the potential that they, too, could have to hold a sorrow so great. The people who are the most uncomfortable holding a space for your pain, are likely the same people who will tell you you “should be feeling better by now.” What they’re really saying is, “I’m having a hard time being around you when you’re in pain, and I’d like you to make it easier for me.” The thing is, when you’re mourning, your only job is to allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel, for as long as you need to feel it. Anyone who can’t honor that or understand it is probably not going to be one of your cronies when you’re ninety-five, sipping lemonade in your rocker, but you don’t need tons of close friends. You just need a few.

The same goes for the loss of any relationship. You have to factor in all kinds of things. How much time and energy you invested, how many memories, shared experiences, heartaches and growing pains you went through. If you had a family with this person, it gets exponentially more complicated, but even if we’re talking about someone you dated for a few months, having a broken heart never feels good. You just have to give yourself time. Examine what happened, especially if you’re disappointed with the way you showed up, but try not to obsess. Glean the information from the experience that’s going to help you grow, and make different choices the next time. If you’re recovering from a toxic relationship, understand your oldest, deepest wounds were probably in play, and that it’s very likely you could use some support. It might be a great time to find a good therapist, and do some deep and needed work toward healing, but don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t over your ex. Some days will be better than others, and these are just natural feelings. Don’t stalk their social media making yourself sick, and try not to invest too much of your time or energy wondering what they’re doing. Focus on your own healing. As Regina Brett says, you have to “give time, time.” You know that anything you resist, persists. Of course we don’t want to marinate in pain, but denying it or running from it or numbing it out just prolongs the inevitable. Eventually you have to face it, and the more you’re willing to acknowledge and work with your pain, the faster you’ll move through it.

Be kind to yourself. Gravitate toward people who don’t try to fix things or tell you how to feel, but are simply able to listen and to be there. Nurture yourself, and spend time doing those things that bring you joy and fulfillment. Volunteer if you have it in you. Try to move your body and sweat and breathe once a day. Weep. Feed yourself well, and I don’t just mean food—pay attention to what you’re watching, reading, telling yourself, and try to have patience. One day, you’ll wake up, and the weight and heaviness of your grief won’t come crashing down upon you as you blink your eyes open and remember where you are. In the meantime, have some compassion for yourself. Life is a constant lesson in impermanence and loss. There’s also incredible beauty and joy and love, but it isn’t easy.

Sending you a huge hug,

Ally Hamilton

Make Better Mistakes

failureexperienceOften people think of their weaknesses or mistakes as failings or short-comings, when really, they’re just places where there’s still some healing or growing to do. If you notice patterns in your life, repeated choices you’re making that aren’t serving you, it’s actually a good thing, because we can’t change anything that’s happening outside our awareness, and many habits fall into that category.

A habit can be a habitual way of thinking about yourself that weakens you, such as, “No one likes me.” This idea may be so ingrained, you’ve come to accept it as the way of things, but if you dig a little, and get yourself some support, you’ll find you can choose a completely different thought. You could flip that idea around and say, “I’m longing for connection. I want to be seen and known and cherished, and that’s a beautiful and natural thing to desire.” Or, “I have deep doubts about my worth, and it’s time to figure out when and why that began.” Then you can get to work figuring out how to let down your defenses and reach out more. How to move outside your comfort zone, and let some love in.

The thing is, when we look back and try to organize our lives into lists of successes and failures, we really lose an opportunity to grow. I hear people describe shame when they get divorced, for example, because they feel like they failed, but usually, so much growth comes out of a situation that falls apart. Obviously no one would ask for heartbreak like that, but it isn’t a failure. It might even be a triumph, if you looked a piercingly painful situation in the eye and decided to release your grip on a story that wasn’t and isn’t yours to write. Perhaps you and your ex needed to release each other, so something beautiful and truthful could emerge. That isn’t a failure.

Maybe you quit a job with financial security to pursue your dreams, and everyone told you you were nuts. Maybe you had to downsize and simplify, but now you’re happy. Now you wake up excited about the day, and grateful to be alive. Not a failure.

Maybe you’ve had a series of romantic relationships that have ended badly. Maybe you have intense fear of commitment, or you find it hard to stay with one person because the grass always looks greener. Maybe you’ve hurt people because you’re in pain. The real issue isn’t what’s happened, it’s what you’re going to do about it. As long as you keep learning and growing and understanding more about yourself and other people, as long as you’re doing the best you can to be true to yourself without hurting anyone else, you’ll do fine. I think it’s a realistic goal to try to make better mistakes as you go along. It’s not that you’re looking for this moment when you’ll be “done”, because that doesn’t happen until your final exhale; it’s that you’re taking the information from each situation, regardless of the outcome, and learning from it. If you’ve hurt people in the past due to your fear or your anger or your confusion, you grapple with all that stuff, so that you don’t continue to hurt people out in front of you in those same ways.

Sometimes we set completely unrealistic goals for ourselves, or we have some very definite picture in our heads of how things should be, or how things should look or feel. Things are as they are. You can’t change what other people will do or want or say or need, but you can certainly work on how you respond. Getting down on yourself won’t get you far. Beating yourself up, or putting yourself down are two sure ways to stay right where you are, feeling awful. Apologize when you have something to be sorry about, be strong enough not to use people for your comfort, and move forward with the intent to take what you’ve learned and show up for yourself, and the people in your life, in a different way. That’s a realistic goal.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can check out my books here.


futurepastIt seemed like a a good day to write about freedom. When we haven’t done the work to heal, and by that I mean, get real with ourselves and seek help if we need it, we are owned by our pain. If we have doubts about whether we are truly lovable, worthwhile, special, unique…that doubt and fear will permeate everything. Following your heart takes enormous courage, and in order to be courageous, you have to believe in your ability to shine; to offer up something only you can. So many people are owned by the idea, “Who am I to chase my dreams?”, or, “Who am I to color outside the lines?”

If you doubt your worthiness to be loved, you’ll play that out by chasing people who seem on the fence about being with you. Rejection will be like a hook, because you’ll see your own doubt in yourself reflected back at you, and in your effort to heal, you’ll pursue, thinking if you can convince other people, maybe you’ll also convince yourself. But it doesn’t work that way, and this is what I mean about being a slave to your pain. Anything we repress, deny or run from, owns us. It might be unconscious, we might not even realize what’s driving us; people suffer without knowing why, it happens all the time. You will never be free from your past, or free from your rage or your fear or your grief until you allow these feelings to catch up with you, until you turn around and sit down and allow this stuff to wash over you. I realize that doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s a lot better than the alternative, because you might be deeply uncomfortable in the short-term, but you’ll be on the path to your own liberation. The other way, you’ll be on the run your whole life.

Knowing yourself is the most freeing thing there is, and not knowing yourself is the loneliest thing I know. When we aren’t sure what lights us up, what scares us, what excites and inspires us, or where we have healing to do, we’re left to flail around in the dark. When we don’t have a strong center, the chances that we’ll betray ourselves in important ways increase exponentially. If you want to be free, you have to take ownership of your life, and you may have to abandon your way of being if it isn’t working for you. When I say “your way of being”, I mean your way of being in the world. If life doesn’t feel good, whatever you’ve been doing so far isn’t working well. Maybe you’re owned by ideas like, “Everybody leaves”, or, “Everybody cheats”, or, “You can’t trust anyone.” How about, “Life isn’t fair”? Or, “I never get any breaks”, or, “No one likes me”? If any of that sounds familiar, I’d get busy breaking those chains, because that’s a prisoner’s mentality.

We can’t control or rewrite what has already happened, any more than we can predict the future. What we can do is lean into our pain and look unflinchingly, but with compassion, at how we’ve been managing ourselves. How we’ve been showing up for ourselves and the people we love. How willing we’ve been to reach out and ask for support when we need it. How much we’re trying to control, and how much we’re able to face reality as it is. To be curious about how things are, instead of being attached to a picture in our heads of how things should be.

The more able you are to work on the things you can control (the way you respond to whatever life puts in your path), and let go of the things you cannot (pretty much everything else), the more you’ll free yourself from suffering. Wishing that for you, and for all of us. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be free.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you might like the books!


angerWe can forgive people without deciding that what they’ve done is okay. We can find compassion for people, even if we cannot comprehend what has driven them to do the things they’ve done. I think these are important distinctions to make, because a lot of people seem to feel the need to hold onto their rage in order to make the other party pay, but when we cling to our rage, we’re the ones who suffer. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, not the other person.

How do we have compassion for someone who’s hurt us? Maybe we’re dealing with someone who’s come out of so much abuse, they know no other way but to perpetuate what was done to them. This does not make their hurtful behavior okay; it simply gives us a lens of understanding to look through. Maybe we can release the grip on our pain and allow ourselves to soften. Maybe we’re dealing with a person who has a personality disorder that renders her unable to empathize or sympathize. That can’t be an easy or fulfilling way to move through life.

You might be dealing with someone who knows right from wrong, but chooses wrong. Maybe you’re dealing with a person who is truly focused on what’s good for her or him, and nothing else. I would argue that most people are not trying to hurt us, and most people do care, but there are certainly a few people here and there who are in it for number one, who don’t care about you, or how you feel. I’d still argue that’s a crappy existence, and I wouldn’t want a life like that.

Some things can be taken that you can never have back, like your innocence, or your childhood. How the f&ck do you forgive that? You can swim in your rage, or you can mourn and grieve for what was taken from you. You can lean into that sadness, that despair, and let it take you out to sea for awhile. Allow yourself to feel everything you need to feel around that, and then release it, free yourself. Otherwise, you have to move through life with this anchor of pain, and it will pull you away from love and it will pull you away from creating something you’ve never known. Then these things that were done to you will render your present and your future unlivable, and the person or people who hurt you in the first place get to keep hurting you.

If you’re caught up in a linear story about what’s happened and how these things have affected you and brought you to this point and made you the way you are, I would say, rewrite the story if it’s miserable. Create something out of thin air and hope that feels like a life you want to be living. If you aren’t there yet, then whatever you’ve been doing is not working, so try something else. Get help if you need it. There are so many healing modalities available—yoga, seated meditation, therapy, body work. Just explore and keep exploring until you find a path that starts to bring you some relief, some peace, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t cling to your rage like a shield, because it will block the love. Put it down. Truly. Life is too short for too much of that.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

You can find my books here <3

The Green-Eyed Monster

jealousyLet’s crack open the green-eyed monster. I’m talking about envy, but while we’re at it, let’s tackle jealousy, doubt, insecurity, fear, a history of betrayal, doubt about self-worth, and abandonment issues, too, shall we?

When we envy what someone else has, it’s because we’re coming from a place of lack. We’ve stopped focusing on all that we do have, and have become transfixed and obsessed with what we don’t, and with what others do. When we’re envious, we fear that someone else has taken up our space in the sun. Now our chance is gone, because the sun can only shine on that other person, and any hopes we’d had are dashed, and we never get any breaks, anyway, and maybe we just have really bad karma. Or maybe that other person is a lying, cheating whore who’ll stop at nothing to get what s/he wants. The green-eyed monster isn’t at all pretty, and it has bitter breath, too. It gets in our heads and tells us tales of how we don’t measure up and probably never will, and you can choose to feed the monster with your fear, or you can send it packing. But I’ll get back to that.

Jealousy is a close cousin of envy. We worry that someone else may have something we don’t, or may take something we have. We doubt our own value. We feel threatened and insecure, and we focus on our perceived weaknesses. We dwell on what could happen, we worry about imagined slights. Jealousy makes us sick, and if we let the sickness grow, the symptoms are ugly. Jealousy makes a person check their partner’s texts, emails, pockets. Jealousy whispers that what you treasure most could be stolen from you. You can feed that fear, or you can send jealousy packing, too. But I’ll get back to that.

You may have a history of having been disappointed, disrespected, betrayed, unheard or unseen. Maybe you put up with treatment you never thought you would. Maybe you were left as a child, or maybe it happened later, at the hands of the first person you really, truly fell in love with. Maybe you think everyone cheats, simply because everyone you’ve picked has cheated. Maybe you’re so worried about being left or betrayed, you bend over backwards to be perfect so that there’s no way your current partner would do those things to you, but they don’t get to really know you that way, either. And you know that they don’t, so the relationship won’t be satisfying, anyway. You’ll be “perfect” for them, and unfulfilled. Unseen, unknown.

When we doubt our worth, it’s because some deep part of us thinks we might not be truly lovable. There’s something in us that believes we might be easy to leave, or betray, or disrespect. Let me circle back, here. How do you send envy, jealousy, doubt and fear, packing? You pick up your mind and direct it toward all the things you do have. You remind yourself that there’s only one you. Something like seven billion people on the planet, but only one of you. You remind yourself that you have your health, you have people in your life you love beyond words. You have people in your life who know you and see you and cherish you. You have a particular, gorgeous song to sing. You have a beautiful, tender heart, and you have gifts only you can share. If you start to train your mind on all that abundance, the nasty green-eyed monster will climb out of your head and slide off your chest and vaporize before you so you can breathe again.

Be mindful about what you’re feeding yourself. When you’re feeling vulnerable and insecure, try not to push those feelings away, see if you can lean into them, and find the source of your doubt and fear. What’s really bothering you? What’s happening now, and is it reminiscent of something that happened long ago, that pierced you and made you doubt your own beauty?

If you find yourself trolling around on social media, feeling sick because everyone’s statuses are pithy and positive, everyone’s pictures are shiny and insta-perfect, and you feel like crawling in a hole with a bag over your head, try to breathe. We all have those days. Everyone you encounter has pain. Most people don’t put that stuff in their updates. Put your phone down and go for a walk.

You are not here to worry that you aren’t good enough. You are not here to chase after people who don’t see you. You are not here to convince anyone else of your worth. You are not here to be in relationships with people who make you feel sick and full of fear, wondering if you’re going crazy, or if it’s them. You really aren’t. Life is too short for all of that. If you’re not sure you’re lovable, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy and heartache if you deal with that doubt before you try to do anything else, like be in a relationship, or follow your dreams. Those things are hard enough to do when we feel good about ourselves. It’s near-impossible when you’re riddled with self-loathing and anxiety.

Wishing you love, peace, strength, and the ability to focus on everything that is right and good about you. There’s a lot.

Ally Hamilton

You can find my books here <3