Are you in an Unhealthy Relationship?

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Unhealthy relationships are becoming an epidemic.  More often than not, people are remaining in relationships that cause them to be hurt, confused, mistreated, and even abused.  But why are they staying when it is blatantly clear to everyone else that they should walk away?  Why do people connected to someone who is making their life miserable?  Why don’t they just walk…err, run away?

Great questions.

Last night, I facilitated a workshop at a local women’s shelter, and all of the women there had endured some type of abuse.  At some point, they walked out and that decision landed in the safety of the shelter.  It was an honor to sit down with this diverse group of “sheroes” and it caused me to think more about relationships, in general and unhealthy relationships, more specifically.

Why do people endure unhealthy relationships?

Perhaps they don’t know that it’s unhealthy.  After leaving the shelter, I was later on air doing an interview, and we discussed how jealous and possessive behavior can look “cute” and “endearing” at first.  The fact that he (or she) shows up where you are, and seems overly interested in your activities and attire, makes them seem as if this person really cares about you.  As the incidents of jealousy and possessiveness increase, sometimes we remain oblivious to the changes that are obvious to others in our lives.  You may not go out anymore, your clothing may change, you seem distant.  But it’s all done in the name of preserving your (unhealthy) relationship, and that shows committment, right?  No…it shows that you are losing yourself to a force that is attempting to subdue you, and that if you continue to accept this behavior that it will be to your detriment.

Then again, perhaps they know it’s unhealthy, but have no clue what to do with that reality.  Or, (and this happens often) they know the relationship is bad, but they have decided that they want to win.  So, this means that every piece of “leave him or her alone” becomes motivation to stay with this person and make it–if only to avoid the “I told you so’s” of the people who cared enough to tell you that your relationship was not a good place to be. This is the wrong time to “let your haters be your motivators,” as the song says. Whatever the justification, it is steeped in the fact that by the time any relationship becomes undeniably toxic, both parties are vested so deeply, that it almost seems easier to remain in dysfunction, than to escape into loneliness (or I told you so’s as previously stated).  Sadly, this keeps many people in relationships that will impact their lives negatively now, and some, for years even after a breakup.

Perhaps it’s less unhealthy than their last relationship.  Now, this is the kicker.  Some people actually believe that as long as this relationship is not “as bad” as their last relationship, then everything is ok, and there’s not a problem.  This is not okay.  Despite the fact, that this person only cheats on you consistently and the last person physically assaulted you, that comparison does not make either one of these relationships better than the other.  They are both bad, and they are both unhealthy, you cannot continue to deny the truth, nor can you ignore the fact that you must do something about it.

I could go on, but then there wouldn’t be a part two.  If you happened to see your relationship characterized in this article, then you can no longer claim ignorance.  It’s time to make some changes because if nothing changes, nothing changes. If you need help, I am here, if you have questions, ask.  This is not the time to think about loyalty, or committment–unless you’re thinking about the loyalties and the commitments that you made to yourself.

I told the group last night, and I am telling YOU now:  As Katt Williams says, “it’s all about your star player…this means you.”  Now you know better, so I hope you’ll at least think about doing better.  Every action begins with a thought (hint-hint).

#CSHS #StopDomesticViolence

 

7 Scary Relationships

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There are all kinds of relationships…but here are six that I find a little, and one that I  find really “scary.”

We don’t really know anything about each other.
Consider the fact that most people send their representative out on at least the first 5 dates, and add to that the reality that the majority of people who date don’t want to ask hard questions about the other person, and the possibility of not really knowing anything about each other becomes very real.

But it doesn’t have to stay this way.  Both parties can ask meaningful questions so that they do get to know each other.  Questions such as:

  • What are your expectations for someone you’re in a relationship with?
  • Have you ever cheated? Why did you (if you did)?
  • What are your life and career goals?

help you come to an understand about who the person you call your “signif” (significant other).

I don’t like you, despite saying I love you.
Admittedly, I spent a decade in a relationship with someone I loved, but didn’t like.  But, liking the person you’re in a relationship with supersedes loving them–believe it or not.  The friendship element of your relationship helps sustain the rest of your relationship.  Out of friendship is born respect, trust, honesty, communication, common ground.  Friendship is the foundation of an amazing love story.

We don’t share anything/our communication sucks.
Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships with people who don’t let us into their lives.  If this is you, consider sharing some thing that is special, but doesn’t make you uncomfortable.  If you’re person who feels a bit jilted about what you’re not being told, then perhaps its time to look at the root of this situation.

Of course, you could always schedule an intervention or mediation, and we can talk through the things that are not being talked about.

I can’t trust you.
While this is a warning for both guys and gals, guys need to be aware that the gals in their lives need stability.  Stability doesn’t stop with trusting you to take care of things and being financially secure.  Trust and stability starts with keeping your word, calling/coming/doing when you say you will.  Every promise needs to be kept, or admitted that it can’t be kept.  It’s scares people (no pun) to be connected to someone that doesn’t keep their word, or fails to admit when they can’t.

In the end, everyone needs to be able to believe in the person they are with. Your word is your bond.

It’s just sex…REALLY!
You cannot build a relationship that lasts on sex.  You can build a sexual relationship, but to attempt to turn that into something meaningful is usually futile.  If it’s just sex, then that’s a decision that you BOTH should make, along with setting boundaries, getting tested, and agreeing that being physically intimate does not imply or guarantee an exclusive, long-term, or loving relationship.

If you want an exclusive, long-term relationship, you may want to consider exploring sex-free relationships so you can get to know each other and spend quality time without the burden of STDs, pregnancy scares, or late night texts asking, “what are
you doing?”

Lastly, you hurt me.
This is not just about emotional pain, but physical pain as well.  Without going through all the signs of an abusive relationship, the one thing that you have to know is that if you don’t feel safe…you probably aren’t safe.  Not only is today Halloween, but it’s the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness month.  If you’re in an abusive relationship–emotional, physical, financial, etc, perhaps it’s time to make this “last time,” be the LAST TIME.  Get  CONFIDENTIAL help now…

In conclusion, there are definitely some other scary relationships, and if you see your relationship in one of the seven above…there is something you can do about it.  There is no reason to settle for an average relationship when you can have an amazing relationship using the same time, energy and emotions.  Learn more…

Ask Coach Steph: Was My Marriage a Mistake?

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Coach Steph,

Hi! I my name is (NAME WITHHELD) and I am afraid that I have a big problem.  I got married six months ago to a man that I love, and who I thought loved me.  But since the wedding, he has been different.  He’s just not interested in me.  We don’t talk and we don’t go out.  He just comes home and sits in the house.  I have asked what is wrong, and I get a “nothing.”  I don’t know what to do, and now I am wondering if my marriage was a mistake.  I am scared to ask him if he wants a divorce. It’s just been six months.

Help!

-A.K.

Dear A.K.,

I am sorry to hear about your problem.  Recently, I hosted a mediation for a couple in a similar situation, and I am happy to say that now they are doing much better–and planning to stay together.  In your situation, first of all, know that the problem may or may not be you.  Perhaps he is overwhelmed by the new role of husband, or perhaps something has happened financially that is making him distant from you, because he fears he cannot be the husband you want, or that he promised you he would be–men do not do well, when their role of provider is tampered with.

The truth of the matter is, that perhaps you should–CALM AND NICELY–ask him if he wants a divorce (if and only if that feels right).  Asking can remove your fears and stop you from carrying that burden.  Secondly, perhaps being asked such a direct question might coax him into revealing what is really going on with him.  You have to be prepared that he might say yes; however, that is more than likely not the case.

Now…If the divorce question doesn’t feel right–don’t do it, an alternative is to tell him that you’re here and promise to be understanding, whenever he wants to talk…this might also pave the way for him to reveal the issue, if he was afraid of your reaction.  You must keep the promise to be understanding, by the way, or you could cause more damage.

The early stages of a marriage can sometimes be the hardest.  The two of you are merging lives, and trying to build a life together.  This can be stressful, especially if you have been on your own for quite some time.  Consider that this transition is also going on within each of you.  As you move into the roles of husband and wife, understand that most people have no REAL clue what it means to be married.  This is why we offer pre-and post-marital visioning programs, so that couples can set their expectations together, and then live up to them in peaceful co-existence, versus just being married, and having no clue what that means to you individually or collectively.

Check out Allison Vesterfelt’s six tips after six months of marriage…here.

In conclusion, you cannot go on living like this.  I am sure that there is a fair amount of hurt in your heart at this time, and my prayer will be that you’re healed so you may go forward without pain–and the baggage that the pain brings.  Again, I caution you to ask about divorce only if it feels right, and if not don’t.  If you cannot get a meaningful answer from him, I recommend praying and then finding a coach or a counselor–if only for yourself.  Whatever has changed him is substantial, and saving a marriage is no easy feat.  But, continue to walk in love, and keep your household a place of peace, and keep smiling…very soon, this will pass–one way or another.

Keep me posted.

 

3 Reasons Love May Not Be Enough

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Love seems to be the easy part.  People are falling in and out of love every day, and most have no clue why.  But there are others who, despite everything that is wrong with a “loving” relationship, have decided that love alone is the reason to stay–and mind you, some people are being treated really badly.  While the thought of staying committed to the love you have for this person is admirable, and is right up there with enduring a marriage that is failing for the sake of your children…the truth is…love may not be enough, and here are a few reasons why.

Reason One: Love is not synonymous with respect.

If the person that you love doesn’t respect you, then that is a problem.  When your memories of this special person in your life are littered with thoughts of their cheating activities, their lies, and even their bad habits, and the negative effect that they have on you, this is not about whether you love them, this is now a question of whether you love yourself.

Do you?

Reason Two: You may love them, but like them? Eh.

CONFESSION: I spent a long time with a person that I loved, but didn’t like.  While some people will say that love is more important, like is the glue that holds things together.  When I like you, it means that on a basic human level, I think you’re a nice person, a great guy or girl, and that you’re friend material.  Being friend material, and having a friendship within a romantic relationship is optimal.

Reason Three: They do not love you the way you should be loved.

This is usually the problem that most people encounter when they love someone, but the relationship is not quite right.  Just because someone claims to “love you,” that doesn’t mean that they know exactly what that means, or what it means to you.  There are entire programs, like the 5 Love Languages, that try to show people what love language they actually speak.  Some, like me, prioritize quality time, while others gifts or words of affirmation.  If the relationship works, but something is a little off–this may be a place to start. However, if the relationship doesn’t work (this means that you spend more time crying than smiling), then there is a bigger problem.  It’s time to sit down, perhaps use my SWOT Analysis Tool, which is in  The Business of Dating to figure out what is going on. (Click here to get the tool.)  When someone doesn’t love you the way you deserve to be loved–with respect, friendship, honesty, giving (of their time, energy and emotions) and commitment–that is not something that should be ignored, nor is it something that will go away.  It is a serious situation that requires a response.

In conclusion, it just must be said that love is not enough for a relationship to survive and thrive.  Sometimes we have to admit that and move on.  However, whatever you decide, do what’s best for you, and be encouraged by the lessons this situation has taught you.  There’s ALWAYS a lesson.

#CoachStephHasSpoken

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4 Reasons Your Marriage (Might) Fail… (Twosday@TRF)

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If you’ve been paying attention, it seems that everyone is getting married…EVERYONE.  And, while there are still hot debates on who should and should not be able to enjoy nuptial bliss, this article is not about that.

Marriage is a very important union between two people.  While it has been reduced to something you “just do,” and then use a swift divorce to get out of it, it’s so much more than that.  And, perhaps this article will help you see that.  Well, enough with the small talk…let’s get to some reasons…

Reason one: You have NO CLUE who you married.  Now, this is more than likely your fault, sorry, it just has to be said.  This seems to be the biggest cause of marriage failures, because people insist on bucking the order of things.  As any six could tell you, “first comes love, THEN comes marriage, THEN the baby carriage.” But that’s not how we do things now.  Most people have baby carriages and then marriage, but love (or even like) is no where in the equation.  We’re marrying people we don’t know because we “mightaswell.”  As such is the case, the due diligence necessary to learn about a person is never done.  And, then you walk down the aisle and start a future with someone who is NOT who you think (or want) them to be.

Reason two: You really just wanted a wedding.  Ah! Such a beautiful event.  The dress, the food, the attention, the gifts–all for you.  It’s easy to see how this happens, and unfortunately, some people loved the wedding, but hate the marriage.  While this may seem silly to some, there are people who just wanted the experience of getting married, and now their marriage is either failing or has failed.  Five words: Don’t…let…this…be…you!

Reason three: You’ve taken marriage advice from married people.  I say it often, “just because you are married, doesn’t mean that you know how to be.”  Some married people will give you flawed advice.  EVERYTHING from take revenge on your spouse to just leave your spouse.  Here’s the problem: it’s not their marriage!  The tenets of your marriage (which my clients explore in marital visioning and pre-marital coaching), are not the tenets of someone else’s marriage.  Stop believing that because someone has been married for “X” more years than you have, that they have the secret to your success.  Married people should seek unbiased support when encountering marital challenges, not the advice of those who could cause more harm than good.  Am I saying that all married people give flawed advice…not at all.  But, I am saying, that you should scrutinized the advice you receive, and if there’s not a stitch of encouragement or support in their statements to you…RUN!

Reason four: Communication has gone out the window.  Everyone knows that communication is required for any relationship to survive.  However, in a marriage, communication takes many different forms.  The communication that I am talking about, is the communication of needs and expectations.  During a marriage, people continue to evolve and to learn about themselves–this is good.  What is not good is when the other spouse is unaware.  Communicating needs and expectations is an ongoing process in a successful marriage, and when your spouse meets your needs and expectations, then celebrating them is in order.  In fact, communication and celebration go hand in hand in a marriage–don’t think otherwise.  Everyone needs a pat on the back (or lower, if that’s a need-smile).

In the end, these are just 4 of many reasons your marriage could fail, but it doesn’t have to.  We help marriages in crisis all the time with mediations and coaching, so reading this article could be a turning point in your marital relationship.  Remember, you avoid bad relationships (and marriages) when you get FIRM. www.TheRelationshipFirm.com

He’s (or She’s) Not Relationship Material

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He’s sweet, kind and even super nice when the opportunity presents itself.  You find yourself wondering if he could be the guy that you’ve been hoping for, despite the fact that he’s never made an advance nor seemed all that interested.  Nice, but not really “interested.”

But he could be the one…right? Or, at least the one for right now,  yes?

Well…Sadly, no.

Take the fact that he’s never made an advance to heart.  It’s not that he’s not interested, it’s that he is not, I repeat, not relationship material.  This is not a cliché, this is a reality.

So, what does it mean, he’s not “relationship material?” Great question.  Not being relationship material means that this person is not ready nor willing to invest the effort necessary to initiate or to maintain a mutually beneficial romantic relationship.  Yes, this does apply to people in friendships, but people are more apt to put more effort into making someone romantic relationship material–so that’s the angle I am coming from.

Now, most people believe that this is a fact that can be changed.  Many people believe that if they make enough of the effort for the person, that they will eventually pick up the slack because all they need is someone to care for them.

Again, no.

This person has made a decision to avoid relationships.  This is why he, or she, is nice but not pursuing you.  Don’t delude yourself into believing that you can change their mind.  For whatever reason, they are deeply committed to themselves, and that’s their priority.  If you choose to make the effort to change their mind, you are only setting yourself up to be disappointed, aggravated and often frustrated with the fruits of your labor.

Consider the possibility that perhaps they’ve recently been hurt–deeply hurt–by someone who they trusted.  This hurt created such pain within them that they decided that they needed to take a break…to heal. Or, perhaps they just realized that all their relationships are ending badly.  They’ve decided to get to the bottom of this cycle, and to do so means stepping away from starting a new romance–at least for now.

Now, you are in their life, hoping and wondering that this may become “something.” Honestly, it might…but not right now.

The best thing that you can do is to respect this person’s decision to take time to heal.  That is the best thing you can do.

  • Not try to convince them how awesome you are.
  • Not attempt to care and love them into being obligated to start a relationship with you.
  • Not lecture them about what they’re missing out on (this means you) because they are guarded or cautious.

Just respect the decision, and be the friend, confidant or best buddy that they need now…if you can handle that.  If you can’t, then care about them from a distant.  There is another option: you can wait them out.  But, seriously, do you have that kind of time?

Really?

You will avoid many, many moments of sheer confusion if you accept the fact that he, or she, is just not relationship material.  If you choose to do anything else but accept it, then let me know how that works out for you.  I am willing to be wrong–but I don’t think that I am.

Bottom line: Accept it…it’s ok.

#CoachStephHasSpoken

♥ Avoid bad relationships when you get FIRM. www.TheRelationshipFirm.com

Celebrity Love Notes: What I Told Evelyn Lozada About Chad Ochocinco

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With the new season of Basketball Wives, we are now forced to relive the saga that is the short-lived marriage of Evelyn Lozada and Chad Ochocinco.

First things first…this relationship started off with a major handicap.  When you sleep someone on the first date (or very early in the dating process), you lose the ability to learn more about the person. Now you’re just looking for more sex–especially if the sex is good.

Secondly, Evelyn ignored some key signs that Chad wasn’t ready to be a husband.  In my honest professional opinion, Chad is a nice guy, and while I believe there is more to the “headbutt” story, the truth is that Chad wasn’t ready to be a husband.   Now, post-incident, she spends much of her on-camera time with therapists and getting her life “fixed” (you know what I mean). However, I humbly ask the question of why wasn’t this time spent pre-nuptials  with the both of them working to put this relationship on a viable path-if one existed?  Evelyn is a beautiful woman, however, wisdom is what is most needed when choosing a mate.  Take heed.

If Evelyn was my client, I would tell her that choosing a boyfriend and then deciding if that boyfriend can be a husband is a process.  And, in order to make that process work well, physical intimacy has to be left put of the equation, and the emphasis should be placed on getting to know each other and assessing how this person’s past has affected them.  There has to be a certain amount of diligence when learning about someone, and again, when sex is one facet of the relationship, learning about the other facets becomes a real challenge.

When someone you are interested in shares tales of tragic childhoods, deadbeat fathers, dead end relationships, and the like, you don’t have to disqualify them, but your antennae should go up and your new mission is to learn how these past occurrences affect them today.  Do they hate women because of something their mother did? Or is their definition of manhood based on the teachings of a “rolling stone” father? This is important! It’s even more important than how great they are in the sack, or how successful they are.  These are the hard questions that no one wants to ask.  But if you’re considering this person for the rest of your life, then that is nothing to take lightly.

What anyone can learn from this situation:  Just as I “told” Kris Humphries, there were signs before you walked down the aisle that this union may not have been for you, or may not have been ready to become the relationship that you want it to be.

Marriage is serious business.  We’re talking about two people, becoming one, and making a covenant with Divine power.  People have minimized it to a pre-nuptial agreement and something that a divorce can get you out of, but don’t be confused by the trite behavior displayed by popular culture.  And, don’t get trapped or caught in a situation that could’ve been avoided with diligent investigation and dedicated time spent communicating INSTEAD of consummating.

Now, if they decide to reconcile, there are major issues that should be dealt with…but I will address that in another article.

#CoachStephHasSpoken

Disclaimer: Just so it’s clearly stated, Coach Steph has not nor is currently working with Evelyn Lozada or Chad Ochocinco.  This article is simply a professional perspective on how the elements of this relationship can affect others, as well as what others can learn from this incident.

Stop the Pain! Here are Four Reasons They Treat you So Bad…

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Recently I encountered a random question on Facebook about being with an inconsiderate person. The question was, “how do you handle this?”

My response was, “that’s not the right question.” (At least that is the first sentence…)

Look at what you are asking. You, considerate person, are asking how to deal with someone who is the opposite. But, based on the question, it is quite clear that you have no affinity for this behavior; however, for the sake of having a relationship…you are inquiring how you should “handle” it.

Reason Number One: You are not putting yourself first. Now, I’m sure this is not a new phrase, people say it all the time. Here’s my take: putting yourself first doesn’t just mean loving yourself and holding yourself in high esteem. It’s also about knowing your boundaries and sticking to your dealbreakers. It’s about observing a person’s behavior, BEFORE you decide that they are worthy of sharing a relationship with you.

Got it?

Reason Number Two: You’re doing ordinary things, and expecting extraordinary results. No matter how good you are, at whatever “kinky” acts you bring to the table. If you haven’t noticed, that doesn’t stop them from treating you badly. Why? Because what you’re doing is no different than the last person. The sex…the catering…whatever you’re giving them, they have had that before. But since you’ve convinced yourself that you are special (and you are, just not because of that thing you do), you’re expecting them to be mesmerized by those acts. Ever considered doing the opposite of what the other or previous person has done. Hmmmm…

Reason Number Three: There are no consequences. People will continue to engage in the behavior that you reward or allow. While I am not a fan of the “make them pay” mentality, I also think that it is ludicrous for someone to hurt you and then you turn around and lavish gifts and affection on them. If nothing else, this person should know how you feel, because you CALMLY and NICELY let them know that you don’t appreciate ___________. Too many people sit in silence and excruciating pain in an attempt to keep their relationship. That’s a price that is too high.

Reason Number Four: YOU LET THEM! You handle the inconsiderate behaviors; you tolerate disrespectful words thrown your way, and as long as you do…this is what you will receive.

If you were at a store and someone kept bringing you items that you did not want, would you just take them, PAY for them, and leave the store? No, and if you did, people would think that was ridiculous.

Now, here’s the big question: You knew all of these things before you read this article. Now that your suspicions have been once again confirmed, what are YOU going to do?  You are worthy of better, you deserve better, and if they cannot do better, then you have options.  I encourage you to be a wise person and choose what is best for you.

Don’t live in the situation that you just read about. Learn more about The Relationship Firm and what we can do to “fix” your relationship.

#CoachStephHasSpoken

New from @KingdomKid725: Are YOU Being Walked on?

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Intro and Review

Hey everybody!

Last month around I put a lot of emphasis on this gold standard in regard to how you want to build a relationship. I put particular emphasis on those even the closest to you. However, before we go into that, let’s review.

Everyone you know will fall into one of these three categories:

1) Those who wish to do no more with you but exploit and abuse you for their own selfish gain.
2) Those who have your best interest but not the best data to convey their wishes.
3) Those connected to a higher standard and want to do right by you just because you are you.

Got it? Well think about it like this. If you have a co-worker that falls into category #1, you can distance yourself…and leave work at work (we’ll talk about that concept a little later). If you have some sort of casual acquaintance, or someone you’ve only known for a set amount of time, you can boot them on out of your business.

A New Quandary

Well, what if you have someone in Category #1, or even Category #2 and they are your homie? Or your BFF? Or worse yet, your mother or father?! Yes there are dysfunctional family dynamics out there, and left to themselves, those dynamics will only produce after themselves. Well, you know you have charge to live your own life, but you’re supposed to love your parents right?

So what the heck do you do?

Well, there’s a difference between servanthood and what I like to call “doormat’ism”. Servanthood is doing things for folks and putting your all into it because you want to see them become the best thing anybody’s ever seen with zero strings attached (this would make you a Category #3’er in their lives). “Doormat’ism” is when your entire life revolves around what they want.

I want to briefly talk about why this is BAD from two perspectives:

1) Anyone you date will be dating your family and NOT you. Don’t be that person who is apologizing for who you date. No you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone uncouth, but even if you are you don’t owe your parents/family an apology for that in of itself. Understand that it’s bad, get out, learn your lesson, and move on. Even your significant other is on the up and up (and they are a “Category #3’er”), sometimes your folks may not approve. In these cases, you gotta stand up and put your foot down. While this has to be in love, it does have to be. Otherwise….

You know cult followers? They “followed” someone too.

 

2) You deliberately follow short of that higher standard I keep yammering about. And I yammer on it because that higher standard works. Your mother, while she loves you, doesn’t know tomorrow today. Your dad, who may just want you prepared for the world, wasn’t around when the foundation of the world was laid. While they may know more than you practically, that doesn’t mean that (1) you’re no less an adult or (2) you have less access to the higher standard than they do. Get your own mind and be the best thing anyone’s ever seen. [adsenseyu7]

You don’t want to follow anything blindly but that higher standard to get to that commission that you’re here for.

Remember this, know what you follow, as sheep tend to get slaughtered. Will this kill you here? No, but you won’t be much of rockstar following any PERSON blindly either.

Until next time!