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Learn to receive, and not just give

There is absolutely nothing selfish about caring for yourself first

Make the hand the gesture of giving, and notice that it is exactly the same as receiving.  Yet we are so caught up not in receiving, but in giving.

Think about it, and focus on how many times a day you give and give.  Look at the dynamics of your family life, friendships, relationships. People love so much that they believe that loving others means giving all of themselves to those they love.

Just look at a new mother, and you will see this expressed in the most vivid way. She will not even attend to any of her needs, as long as those of her infant are met. That giving until it hurts is the best way to love is just a belief—and it can be damaging.

Let’s use the analogy of a glass of water. You are the glass, love is water. In order for you to be happy, your water level needs to be at the rim. Full equals joy, happiness, love, bliss and a fulfilled life. Now, let’s say you are constantly giving. Your water level will decrease rapidly; the more you love, the faster the water level drops.

You start to feel depleted, cranky; you start expecting your water level to be refilled, and you begin to feel lack. Lack of water leads to all sorts of negative responses because you become desperate; without it you will die. But there is no water in sight, because you have used it all up, giving it to others.


How many of you can relate to this analogy? How tired, spent and drained are you from your everyday life because you are only doing what a loving person is “supposed” to do? The way you are feeling is an indicator of your state of being. If you are feeling drained, you are giving too much and not receiving.

There is only one way to allow yourself to  receive, and this is to change the belief that loving others means to give of yourself completely. We will also add the belief that “In order to give to others, I need to give to myself first.”  And, “I am the source of my own completeness and love.”

How do you do this? This is the fun part. When you wake up in the morning, ask yourself what you can do for yourself. It might even help to say your own name and speak to yourself in the third person. You talk to yourself a lot during the day anyway, so you might as well manage those negative thought patterns.

Say, “What would you like me to do for you today, (your name here)?” A thought, an idea, an activity, a non-activity will enter your head. Do the first thing that comes to your head, provided that it is loving and kind towards you. Cooking dinner for your family is giving. Tutoring your kids is giving. Driving for your mom is giving.

I’m not saying stop the giving; I’m saying, add an act of service for yourself. It could be one of the following:

Whenever I pass by a mirror, I will say, “Hi, beautiful!”

I will only say nice things to myself about myself today.

I will not judge myself or anyone else today.

I will wear lipstick.

I will smile at everyone today.

It does not have to be some grand gesture.  It is any act that makes you feel good about being you.  Once I tried to set my alarm every hour for eight hours, and each time it would ring I would say thank you to God for whatever it was I was doing at that particular moment.  It made me so happy that whenever I feel that that world is not being fair to me, I do this, and it instantly makes me feel good.


This teaches you that you are the source of your happiness, and you alone can create happiness in your life.  It isn’t easy to do an act of service for yourself, only because you really never have. Don’t you think it is time to start?

In giving to yourself everyday, you are actually reprogramming your brain, thoughts and belief systems into focusing on the fact that it is safe for you to receive, that you can receive without guilt, that it is okay to take care of yourself first. The only way to true happiness and fulfillment is through self-love, self-care and self-acceptance, and there is absolutely nothing selfish about caring for yourself first.

On the contrary, if you care for yourself first, you are validating to the universe and your brain that you are the source of your own love and fulfillment. That source is within, and never external.  You will never find it in a spouse, a job or even the best friend in the world. You will always be searching for external validation unless you give it to yourself.

By filling your own water glass, you create more and more love, which you are now free to give to whomever you wish without expectation. Expectation that ruins all relationships. Yet the only way we can free our loved ones from expectations is to love ourselves. Then what you give becomes free, pure, authentic and without strings attached. That is true giving.

And when you give without condition, because you are no longer depriving yourself, you open yourself to receive.

Let’s go back to the glass of water. It is now full because you filled it up from your own source, and are not depleted in any way, now you can receive. Your stores will never run out because you are  your own supply, and whatever you receive is just the  icing on the cake that you give thanks for on a daily basis.

This is the true nature of abundance. This is the cycle you focus your attention on, and I guarantee that happiness will be a constant in your life. What have you got to lose?  You won’t know unless you try.

Give yourself a week. One act of service to yourself, for yourself, for seven days. If it doesn’t work, stop. If it works, make it a part of your daily ritual. You will not look back.

Published March 1, 2016 in Philippine Daily Inquirer Thriving in SouLove column.


You could be unconsciously sabotaging yourself

The unconscious mind is very powerful. Our thoughts and actions are largely based on our subconscious fears and desires, and we do not even realize it.
Think about this for a minute with an open mind. Think of a time when your dream, desire or deepest longing was right in front of you. Think of that time when your dream job or school, or an entrepreneurial opportunity, or even a great romantic love was right there for you—and just when it could have been yours, something happens, and poof!

You start feeling so bad about yourself and the world around you that you can’t even explain why it happened. You begin to question everything and blame God, wishing the circumstances were different, or you simply consider yourself unlucky.

What most of us do not realize is that this is self-sabotage, and we do this all the time. What makes it so difficult to change is that most of the time we are unaware that this is happening. Part of mindful living and conscious awareness is to recognize the patterns.

Look back and see how difficult it has been to get to your fullest potential, or how it always seems to feel like you slide back just as you are about to reach your goals and dreams. Just when you are about to close that deal, finish a project, or get that job you have always wanted, something happens. It can be so simple or so dramatic, but something happens, and what you so desired is no longer within reach.

If you find this happening on a regular basis, luck has nothing to do with it. It is, again, all about limiting subconscious beliefs, and the fear that is stored within your subconscious. What we refer to as luck, karma, opportunities, being in the right place at the right time, serendipity—all that is frequency.

This frequency or energy that you are is housed in your subconscious mind. Which is why, half the time, we are so completely unaware of what is happening inside us. We play the blame game and become reactive toward our own lives. But there is a way to recognize, change and reconfigure your frequency so that you attract your dreams, desires and fullest potential.

Muscle testing

This muscle testing method is based on the science of kinesiology. It is really quite easy and amazingly accurate. Here are the simplified steps for you to try.

1) Download a compass app on your cell phone and face north.
2) Make sure you are hydrated; drink at least a glass of water before doing this exercise.
3) Place your hands on the side and keep your spine straight and close your eyes.
4) Out loud, say, “My name is (state your name).” Your body will naturally tilt forward. Say, “My name is (make up a name).” Your body will naturally tilt backwards. Test this further by saying “Yes, yes, yes” and “No, no, no.” Your body will move forward for “Yes” and backwards for “No.”
5) If your body does not move, you are dehydrated; take another glass of water and then do the test questions again.
6) Then make the following statements to yourself to test your subconscious belief systems. “I am worthy of achieving my dreams.” (Most people self-sabotage because they feel they are unworthy.) “Dreams can be reality.” (Some people feel that dreams can never become reality because this is what they have been programmed to believe, for whatever reason.)
7) Remember that the beliefs do not have to make sense to your conscious mind. You will find that the beliefs your conscious mind may find incredible are actually the ones that hold you back. These include: “Money is the root of all evil”; “There is lack in this world”; “If I reach my full potential, I will die”; or “I have a vow of poverty.” Most of us who have been self-sabotaging will have these beliefs. And yes, we can change it.
8) Fear is the great paralyzer. Fear can totally disable you emotionally and spiritually in all aspects of your life. Fear is the direct opposite of love. Check for limiting beliefs on the following, over and above what I have just suggested: I fear success. I self-sabotage. I fear becoming a different person if I reach my full potential. I fear moving forward. I fear (add your own fears here).

Changing beliefs

Please note that the muscle test does not function as a lie detector. It does not determine the truth; for this particular purpose, it is used to determine beliefs. Asking help from a professional will make the process go faster, but you can definitely do it yourself.
There are many ways to change beliefs; some are faster and more effective than others.

Beliefs that are not fully ingrained in your subconscious are, of course, faster to remove.
The more attached you are to your beliefs, the more difficult it will be to change. Remember that all beliefs serve you in one way or another; otherwise, you would not have accepted the programing to begin with.

1) Determine what your limiting beliefs are without judging yourself. Do this through the muscle testing.
2) Trace the source of your belief. Did it come from school, family, society, religion, etc.? Acknowledge and validate that the limiting belief is not the truth. You decide what you want to keep and what you want to remove. All decisions are made by you and you alone.
3) Reprogram your thoughts through repeated action and affirmations. Affirmations will work only if you have determined your limiting beliefs, and make a decision to release them with the intent of changing them.
4) Take action. Step out of your comfort zone. This is the only way to release the limiting belief.
5) Like, love and celebrate your achievements to validate yourself and experience the new joy these new thoughts are bringing you.

I know it sounds a bit abstract, but remember that we are working with frequency and energy here. Both are propelled by thought, action, intent and determination. Start slowly, and begin to feel the difference immediately.


You will know when the limiting belief has been changed successfully because when you do the muscle test again, you will now test “No” where you tested “Yes” before. When you see the results made manifest in your day-to-day life, you can repeat the process as often as you like.
You will begin to reach your goals with ease and grace. And if you don’t, stop judging yourself and stop labeling yourself as unlucky. Simply find the limiting belief and change it.
You are in charge of your own life. Empower yourself, determine and change your limiting beliefs, and start living the life you have always desired. Dreams do become reality. Your birthright is to be happy.

Visit www.liabernardo.com; e-mail: namaste@liabernardo.com

Read more on the The Philippine Daily Inquirer Thriving in SouLove column.

SL PDI 2 Final

Being stress-free is a decision

Just like everything else, if you want something gone from your space, change your beliefs about it. The same goes for stress.
The No. 1 cause of unhappiness, worry, anxiety, sleep deprivation and illness is stress. Yet people have come to accept stress as part of life. It isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.
Some people can be in major anxiety-inducing situations and still remain calm, while there are some who react to the smallest things. The measure of stress comes from how each individual reacts to the stressors in their lives, not the magnitude of the situation.

This is why it is important not to judge the situation as small or big, because when stress is triggered in a person, the reaction will depend on how the person will process the stressors. The best way to determine whether you are stressed or not is to pay attention to your body.

Your body is the most accurate gauge of how stressed you are. When you are calm, there are no sharp pains or intense feelings in your body. Try this exercise: close your eyes and breathe normally. Focus on your breath and notice how your body is reacting. If there is a reaction, including not being able to sit and focus on your breath, your body is under stress.

If your body feels calm and there are no sharp sensations, this is your state of relaxation.

Body sensation

Now think of something that stresses you out—traffic, not paying bills on time, the fear that someone in your family might get sick. Notice that the minute you think of something that will stress you out, there is a bodily sensation that corresponds to the thought. Your shoulders may freeze up, the back of your neck might hurt, the solar plexus feels hollow, the lower back aches, the head starts to throb.

Pay attention to how your body reacts to stress, because each person will react differently.

It is important to recognize how your body responds to stress so that you can understand and listen to your body. This way you will stop judging the situation as too small or too big, because it does not matter; what matters is that you are in stress mode, and you need to decide that you no longer want to be there.
Decide to change the situation, or don’t. Just know that you and only you are responsible for your state of being. Yes, it is just a decision away.

Face it: Sometimes you like the drama, and if you want to be in drama mode, go ahead and stay there—the choice is yours. You and you alone are responsible for the choices you make—not the driver in the car in front of you, not your boss and not the situation you are in.

A large part of being under stress is thinking and believing that your are not in control of your feelings. This is, in fact, the farthest thing from the truth.
Once you decide that you no longer want to feel a certain way, change it and see what happens.

This is why it is so important to recognize that you are reacting to the situation with stress, as your body will tell you so. The situation will not change; you are the one that changes your reaction toward it.

The first step is deciding that you no longer want to feel that way, and then doing whatever works to change how you feel.


We all use tools to make us feel better. Some choose to drink beer after work, others smoke cigarettes, some take anti-anxiety drugs. But there are tools that don’t require a lot of money and that are far more conducive to happiness and empowerment.

Alcohol, cigarettes and other “maladaptive” tools create dependence. When we go toward something outside of ourselves to cope with something unpleasant, we create dependency. But our objective is empowerment and accountability, so instead of using maladaptive tools, we take responsibility for our state of being—and that’s just recognizing that you are in a state of stress, and not judging yourself as good or bad.

Second is to use means or tools that empower you, rather than giving your power away. Here are some tried-and-tested tools you can use to raise your frequency, or to put yourself in a better mood.

1) Play music.
Choose music that makes you feel good—classical, gospel, religious, mantras, love songs that are not about heartache, etc. Play music that has a positive message, uplifts your mood and elevates your spirit.

2) Take a walk.
If you live near a park or you have access to a garden, take a walk and be with some semblance of nature. This may be difficult for city dwellers, but there are still some public parks left where you can just take a walk and release your tension and fears. Walking in the mall doesn’t quite cut it.

3) Exercise.
Go to a Pilates class, yoga, Zumba, tai chi, hip-hop dancing, Nia, ballroom—there are so many choices that I am quite sure there will be at least one that you will enjoy. The point is to enjoy, not to go because you have to.
See how your energy shifts from the beginning of class to how you feel at the end of class. This is a great way to stay in shape while putting yourself in a great mood.

4) Hang out with friends.
Be with people who uplift you, with whom you can laugh out loud and just be yourself. This is bonding with like-minded people who make you feel good about yourself because you are also making other people feel good about themselves. Have fun, watch a movie, get together and just be happy.

5) Play with your pet.
Never underestimate the ability of pets to heal you. Play with and nurture your beloved pet, as it responds by loving you unconditionally—and learn how to receive that love.

6) Eat fruits.
Nature’s feel-good food is fruit. Bite into a fruit, and you will instantly feel better. Eating fruits on an empty stomach will amplify its healing qualities in terms of nutrition, but it will also instantly make you feel good inside.

7) Find something to be grateful for.
The gratitude tool is the easiest and most effective way to shift your negativity into positive thoughts and feelings. There is always something to be grateful for; the fact that you are alive is one of them. Look for something or someone to be grateful for, and see and feel the stress disintegrate.

8) Pamper yourself.
This isn’t free, but it is money well spent. Go to the barber shop, the salon or the spa, or get a home service massage. Just give time to take care of yourself.
It takes practice, yes, but this can be as easy or as difficult as you decide it to be. Being happy and stress-free is a decision you make. Do it because you love yourself, and you know that you deserve to be happy, and that happiness is your natural state of being.

Read more on The Philippine Daily Inquirer Thriving in SouLove column.

E-mail the author at namaste@liabernardo.com.

SL PDI Final 1202

Judging others is judging yourself

Our relationship with another person is a direct reflection of our relationship with ourselves. When you find that your self-talk leads toward judgment and criticism of yourself, you are creating a negative relationship with the person you ought to be loving the most, and that is you.

Take a minute here and just see yourself as objectively as you can, and look back at the number of times you put yourself down in your head. Then think of how many times you put yourself down in conversation with others. Think about how often you say, “I’m so fat or I’m not good enough or I’m afraid to…”

These are all judgments created by you about yourself.

Now imagine yourself as a pin cushion, and each judgmental thought or phrase you utter is symbolized by a pin. How many pins are in you right now? There shouldn’t be any, yet most of us indulge in this daily practice of self-flagellation, and we have been doing so for years on end, we don’t even realize we are doing it.

When you judge yourself, you are in fact taking a whip and hurting yourself with each thought and each word you say that puts yourself down.
Take today, and just for today—monitor your thoughts and words to rephrase and rethink and reverse any judgmental thought you may have about yourself and others.

Just for today, be free of any self-criticism, self-deprecation and expectations of yourself. Be judgment-free, just for today. And don’t start judging yourself when you catch yourself putting down another or yourself. Simply change the thought or rephrase what you are saying.


This exercise is a crucial step toward developing self-love and radical self-acceptance. There is only one way to happiness: Love yourself, just for today.

When you suspend or release self-judgment, you automatically stop judging others. It is impossible to stop judging another or to stop being critical of another without doing this for yourself. You will find that the most judgmental people are those who are un-accepting of themselves.

When you begin to accept yourself and see yourself not as broken or damaged goods but as someone who has experienced life, then you begin to see others in the same way. Your relationships, remember, are just mirrors of your relationship with yourself. If you are dissatisfied with yourself, you will always find fault in others. You will always be unhappy, and that is the truth.

The only way to happiness is pure self-acceptance, and this can only come from a deep love for the self. Yet a majority of those reading this will equate self-love with selfishness, which is the farthest thing from the truth.

The only way to treat another well is to treat yourself well. The only way to show kindness to another is to treat yourself with kindness. The only way you can fully accept another human being for just being himself is to accept yourself fully—both in shadow and light.

When you get irritated by others who judge, this is a signal to see it as an alarm that you are denying or suppressing that side of yourself. You are being nudged by the universe to acknowledge that you are that way, and it needs to be accepted and healed.

It is all about perspective. Shift your perspective and reverse the self-judgment. See how quickly judgmental people disappear from your space because you no longer need to be taught the lesson.

So, the next time you judge yourself or another person, know that you can create the shift in perspective within, and the outside will take care of itself. Know that you can learn this one day at a time. So, just for today, free yourself from any thoughts or words that judge yourself or others.

Published Nov. 24, 2015 in Philippine Daily Inquirer Thriving in SouLove column.

By Mia De Zuzuarregui  for SouLove

Why gratitude is good for you

In this space I will give my thoughts and insights on how to create SouLove in your life. And I am starting with the power of gratitude. By creating gratitude in your life, you can immediately feel its transformative ability to create miracles within.

Gratitude as game changer

Love is the most powerful, energetic force in the universe. What propels love? Gratitude is the most definite game changer. Gratitude will magnify anything and everything. If you focus on what you do not have, you are magnifying that, and that will become your reality. This is what happens when “nothing goes right.”

Think about it—how many times do you say, “What’s wrong with today?” or “What’s up with today?” whenever things do not go right within your day?

By focusing on what is wrong, you actually are unconsciously creating all that could possibly go wrong. The result will be a horrible day. Creating gratitude in your life is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Gratitude has the power to heal. You will become happier, nicer and will see everything from a positive perspective.

Remember, your reality and everything happening to you now is just the result of your perceptions. The easiest and fastest way to change your negative perception is to focus on gratitude. Just try this little experiment for one day, and see the difference.
There are four ways to create gratitude in your life:

1) Awaken to gratitude. From the moment you wake up, be thankful for something, anything. Be thankful you woke up, or be thankful you slept well, or try being thankful for the day that is about to happen. It doesn’t really matter what you are grateful for, but regardless of what you were thinking when you woke up, shift it to something you are grateful for.

2) Validate gratitude. Throughout the day, say thank you for every little thing that happens. You find a great parking space, say thank you. You eat something that is good, say thank you. You pay for something, say thank you for having the money to buy what you just bought, even if it is just an ice cream cone. Just say thank you for everything. It is just for one day. Focus on what you have.
Now, let’s magnify it even more. Every time you say thank you, validate gratitude further by saying, “How does it get better than this?” Say this each time without feeling guilty. Most people will not utter this phrase because of guilt. But, just try it for a day. By saying, “How does it get better than this?” you are validating abundance, gratitude and being limitless.

What is good can get better

Whatever is good can get better, whatever is happy can get happier, and whatever is awesome can get more awesome. By saying these words, you are validating gratitude and magnifying it, and in doing so, you are attracting more of what you are focusing on into your life and your reality.

3) Be gratitude. When you validate gratitude, you are reformatting your thought patterns; you are training your mind to focus on what is positive and good, and what you have vs. what you do not have. You affirm gratitude, and when you validate or affirm something, you become that which you validate.

Notice that people who have branded themselves as lucky are in fact extremely lucky. But those who say they are unlucky are in fact unlucky, right? What you validate, you become. You can shift anything that is negative in your life into something positive.
By being in gratitude, you do this so instinctively that you do not even think about it anymore. But for your one-day practice session, observe and be mindful of you becoming gratitude. Notice how you are smiling more often, and how much nicer you are becoming to others. See and observe your overall disposition—you will notice that you are lighter, more pleasant and seeing the more pleasant side of things. Your attitude becomes that of gratitude.

4) Have a gratitude journal. You can make your own with cutouts and artwork. You can buy any notebook and make it into your gratitude journal. You can even download it as an app. It does not matter how you do it; what matters is that in some way or form, you write down three things that you are grateful for every single day.
I often ask parents to do this activity with their kids. It is a great bonding activity, and it teaches children to think positively and be in gratitude. Do this every day and watch your life change almost immediately. Today, I am grateful for…

You can e-mail the author at Namaste@liabernardo.com

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