Put On Your Own Mask First (Yes, You Really Can)

“Nice try,” the counselor said with a kind smile. “But there’s one thing … ”

He bent his head to write on my paper, and I frowned. I’d labored over the words of the affirmation, trying hard to get them exactly right.

It was one of my first workshops at The Clearing, the residential rehab where I spent a month learning how to heal the underlying core issues that drive substance abuse.

(Though I didn’t use drugs, my work as a digital copywriter and some unexpected struggles opened a door for me to participate in the program.)

Our participant group was charged with writing personal affirmations, and I’d thought that mine was done: “I am a strong, courageous woman, living in my integrity, loving myself and others.”

I’d chosen each word with care, so where had I gone wrong?

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Set Boundaries and Declare Dominion: You Need to Read with Anna Kunnecke (Plus a Book Giveaway!)

Let’s start our conversation about how to set boundaries and declare dominion in the most logical place: with the dream I had the other night about owning a living, breathing miniature elephant.

(We’re going somewhere with this, I promise.)

I’d had the tiny elephant for a few days, and I’d thought that I was taking pretty good care of it. But then I placed a container of water down on the floor where the elephant lived, and the little guy went crazy.

set boundaries and declare dominion, elephants

Within seconds it was splashing and guzzling water, equal parts desperate with thirst and wild with joy.

That was when it dawned on me that while I had provided food, I had never given the elephant water. I just hadn’t realized it was necessary.

Aghast, I kept repeating, “I didn’t know.”

When I woke up, I realized that the elephant represented me and the water stood for sustenance, for the ability to take care of my own needs.

For so long, a small, vulnerable part of me had been so thirsty, and I hadn’t known enough to give it water.

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How to Protect Your Energy: 3 Unconventional Tips

Have you ever woken up one day and realized that panic mode and pure exhaustion have become your default settings? If you’ve ever Googled, “How to protect your energy” and “Tired of being tired” and “How to set boundaries” … then you are not alone.

I’ve been there, so I understand how hard it can be to feel hopeful. The good news is, you don’t have to stay in that drained, depleted place.

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