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Bonita Bennett, publisher Of Being Single Magazine and a former TV/radio personality, is the author of the books “How To Catch & Keep The Man Of Your Dreams,” and The Coming Of Dawn. She is also a nationally recognized life coach/relationship expert, and noted motivational speaker, whose life-changing counseling techniques, classes and innovative workshops on life-skills, inter-personal relationships, conflict management, and problem solving are well-known in her field. Bonita Bennett is the publisher and founder of Being Single Magazine
Last Year In Review…How Did You Do?
by Bonita Bennett
Well, last year is gone and reflection time begins. For me, it was an exciting year of progress, new discoveries, great fun and some change. I experienced some giant leaps in personal growth and I got better at being me. I also believe in miracles now more than ever, and I’m even more steadfast in my faith that you should never give up, no matter how dark it looks.
What about you? How was your year? Did you make a difference in the lives of others in your personal realm? Did you touch someone’s life significantly? Did you experience growth as an individual in measurable terms. Did you learn or experience something new? Did you overcome any obstacles or challenges you had doubts of overcoming? Did you progress from Point A to Point B, as it relates to your lifestyle, habits, decision-making, and/or dreams?
Are you still hanging on to something or someone you know you should let go? Did you conquer any of your fears, or do they continue to govern your world? Did you discover something about yourself that you never knew before? Did you find happiness or peace? Did you free yourself from any self-imposed boundaries, by stretching yourself beyond your perceived limitations?
Were you more demonstrative with kindness and affection than you’d been the year before? Overall, did you make good decisions, or did you just stroll along life’s path until you were circumstantially forced into a corner of reckoning?
Were there improvements in established relationships? Did you embrace new ideas and new friends? Did you explore or venture off into unfamiliar territory? Did you break any patterns or strongholds, which needed to be broken? Were your prayers answered?
Did you give up at any time when you should have stayed on the course? Did any of your dreams come true? Did you make any major mistakes and not admit to them? Did you increase your likeability factor? Did you accomplish much or little? Did you become a better person?
These questions are designed to perhaps invoke some new thought for the New Year, and to encourage you to examine your journey and measure your progress. Remember, we are here for a purpose, and to discover all that life has to offer. We must not mope along the trail of life until it ends. As the BeeGees sang…”You should be dancing!”
This means moving along at a joyful pace, stopping occasionally to change your shoes and direction…to reflect on how far you’ve come and where you want to go, while being a blessing to others May this be the best year ever!
Mediocre Or Magnificent?
by Bonita Bennett
You are what you think…I learned long ago that to be comfortable with who you are is the epitome of true freedom. I know several people who are prone to look down their noses at what they see as “lesser souls” while socially clamoring to be recognized as equals by those whom they consider to be on a higher rung on the ladder of life.
There are many who have unresolved feelings of inferiority that have been embedded for years, while some are struggling to overcome. This is often apparent in social settings where it’s important that their names are recalled instantly and smiles linger in their direction.
Money, clothes and attitude are often used by those who feel less esteemed, to bring them up to a standard of the acceptability they lack on the inside. When someone has the tendency to feel less than, oftentimes they have suffered either by their own hand or at the hands of others. This person is usually convinced subconsciously that they don’t measure up in some form or fashion as a person to be admired and respected on the basis of who they are. Therefore, it is all too common for those of this mindset to scour and scratch the earth for a place of honor, respect and approval by all means necessary. However, this is seldom accomplished without disapproval from some aspect of the observing public.
The person who feels inferior is most likely to easily feel slighted, overlooked, disregarded or passed over. I believe that we all have experienced such feelings at some point in our lives for different reasons, but few realize that our insecurities may manifest in our behavior and/or actions.
Here are some common signs of low self-esteem vs. good self-esteem..Those who feel inferior…often claim to have co-signers to their viewpoint to add credibility to their position. They believe they need an “entourage of thinkers” for their opinions to be accepted. “I believe such and such and Sally and Bob said the same thing.” Those who don’t…express their views and label them personal. They have no need for support or backup…Those who feel inferior…are often heard saying, “so and so doesn’t like me.” This person doesn’t expect to be liked, and either doesn’t try or tries too hard. Those who don’t…aren’t usually aware of who may dislike or disapprove of them, because it’s a non-issue. They expect to be liked and accepted and don’t worry if they’re not. This is usually apparent in their demeanor…Those who feel inferior…are usually self-promoters who do so by either excessive bragging or ostentatious display. Those who don’t…seldom mention their assets or accomplishments. Their accolades usually come from other sources. Those who feel inferior…usually operate or communicate from a defensive position because of the unforgotten pain of their past. They lie in expectation of disappointment. Those who don’t…expect the best…whether they get it or not
With those who feel inferior, everything and everyone is considered suspect until proven otherwise. They often enter a door feeling that their inadequacies are on display. They are not intuned to their self-worth because they use a measuring stick that is frayed and bent from the memories of their experiences, which usually has taken up permanent residence in their hearts and minds.
The key to overcoming feelings of inferiority is to change the way one sees one’s self, and to work hard to see yourself as The Creator sees you. Whereby, you are loved deeply, accepted wholly and protected always. When this new attitude becomes apparent, others will automatically fall in step and begin to see you in a different light, because you view yourself in a different light.
What A Real Woman Looks Like…
by Bonita Bennett
Often, I think of the many women I know, and the qualities that make them special. In fact, I know few who wish to be viewed as anything other than classic, significant or distinguishable in the crowd. However, lately I’ve encountered a number of women, who appear either oblivious to the traits of quality behavior, or disinterested in the female imagery of womanhood. This point brings to mind a recent incident where I witnessed two women scream vile obscenities at each other through the window of their late model Jaguar and Mercedes respectively is a supermarket parking lot. I almost wrecked my car at the shock of it all.
I flinch often in public at the women I encounter who loudly and commonly refer to one another and whoever else may disruptively cross their paths as “b’s” and “ho’s.” In these days and times, it seems that for too many women, behavior befitting a real woman is not necessarily in their frame of reference. This could be due to several reasons. One being that in their training environment, (childhood), the focus on good female imagery may have been absent, meaning few role models.
Perhaps, certain character building principles were not an emphasized part of their life’s orientation. I also believe that those women who are self-empowered, and understand the true art of being a woman, have a great responsibility to reach back for those who may be less enlightened or in need of emotional support on whatever “battlefield” they’re standing on
I believe that true beauty, which is widely associated with womanhood, makes more of a lasting impression when it’s sported on a woman with a quality mind and a compassionate spirit. A woman is in serious trouble if she depends solely on her outer package to establish her in the minds of others in a meaningful way. Beauty needs backup, and a woman’s core qualities play a major role in making her distinctive. Here’s a portrait of her likeness…The Real Woman…
*views God as the source of her existence and her carriage reflects His presence in her life. a needed factor in all of life’s relationships.
*speaks no evil, tells no secrets, and maligns no one.
*strives to view life as an adventure and its challenges as seasoning on a privileged existence.
*possesses a certain virtuous quality regardless of her life experiences.
*has full understanding of her feminine power, and how to use it-when to use it-where to use it -and who to use it on.
*knows instinctively how to make others feel valued.
*has absolutely nothing to prove.
*possesses the required confidence it takes to laugh at one’s self.
*has the courage to say what needs to be said.
*is not afraid to make mistakes or admit them.
*looks upon others with an open heart and an open mind
The Ballad Of Battered Women
by Bonita Bennett
Not long ago, I was sitting in a very lovely room in a very beautiful home with a group of women gathered as a committee for a charitable project. Suddenly, the front door flung open, and the husband of our host stormed in and demanded all of us to leave. (One woman in the group left out so fast, she left her purse behind). It was obvious that he was angry, and all we wanted to do was get out of his path of fury.
As we stood paralyzed in shock on the sidewalk outside, we became even more flabbergasted when the front door opened, and the husband threw the wife out the door and slammed it shut. It was bitter cold outside, and she didn’t have a coat on. We watched sadly, as she shivered, screamed and pleaded to be let back into her home. Later, I learned that he was known for his cruelty, but for her, divorce was not an option because she “loves him.” They are still together, but her designer attire and her sleek car fail to overshadow the sadness in her eyes.
I personally know a number of women who suffer at the hands of their lovers and go back for more. Unfortunately, they are among many who are willing to sell their souls and self-respect under the theme of “companionship.” The question on the minds of many is why? Do these women put themselves back in harm’s way for love, or are they psychologically bamboozled by the potential loss of “loss.”
Statistics show that there are millions of women across this country being emotionally and physically abused in relationships, and they are hanging on for dear life, and using the “Love” word as a life raft. Some don’t like it, but don’t know what to do about it. They hate the abuse, but they love the man or so they say. Some feel unworthy of tender affection, because they’ve never experienced it. Others saw it coming early in the relationship, but pressed past it in hopes that their “good lovin” could affect his bad behavior. Too many of these women see warning signs, but choose to push them away with romantic idealism. They see, but they don’t want to see.
I remember being excited once after meeting this great looking guy and our first date was a party on a yacht. He was fun, accomplished, and seemed sincere. I was captivated momentarily by his brilliance until I sat across from him over dinner. Though I was mesmerized by his smile, I realized by his conversation that he had a low regard for women. Later, my observation was substantiated when he informed me that he didn’t believe in picking up the tab on dates. He expressed that he felt dating was a shared expense, and he expected me to pay half the bill. I smiled to disguise my disgust and excused myself to go to the ladies’ room. I went outside instead and flagged a cab. For once, I surrendered to my instinct, which told me that he wasn’t kidding, and I wasn’t hungry enough to let one of those stupid romantic notions get in the way and overrule my good sense. He got the message and never called me agai
If more women backed out at the first sign of trouble in a relationship, the statistics of emotional abuse would drop drastically.
Keeping It Real…Few Do.
Think about it. How real are you on a scale of 1-10? I ask this question often of friends and colleagues and find it exceptional when someone claims to be a 7 or above. I believe that being real (living your truth) takes a certain courage not held by many. Here are some examples:
Common Scenario #1: One reader wrote about how a co-worker embarrassed her once in a group of other co-workers, by making a belittling comment regarding her attire. She was angered by her remark, but instead of letting the woman know how she felt, she said nothing and began to avoid the woman. When the woman confronted her about being ignored, she lied and said she was just having some personal problems. The reader admitted however, that she felt like such a coward, but the truth would have required a courage she didn’t have and a confrontation she didn’t want. She is not alone, which is why bullies reign on so many levels in our society.
“Being real” is such an overused cliché in our society today, but in certain arenas it has very little substance. Yet, those who are daring enough to be upfront about who they are and what they really feel are rare and usually highly respected.
Another reader wrote that she is “deathly” afraid of conflict and therefore leads a life of submission and restraint where she accepts and tolerates the unacceptable. Unfortunately, those with this problem usually end up in the back row of life, hoping to get to the front through someone else’s benevolence.
Common Scenario #2: A friend complained about how a mutual friend hadn’t returned any of her calls in the last three months and she didn’t understand why. I knew why. Our mutual friend shared her feelings and the nature of the offense with me, but didn’t wish to engage in a verbal confrontation with the “offender.” She did what is common practice for some…she vacated the relationship. She cut her off without a word, and left her hanging to figure it out. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual scenario. It is common practice is to be offended by someone, and never tell them…but tell others.
There are many who are ignored, passed over and condemned for various infractions they don’t even know they committed. One guy was passed over for promotion because he failed to thank his boss for the wedding gift he gave him.. His boss was angered by what he viewed as ingratitude, but never expressed it. Yet the man was penalized for his “sin” without ever knowing why.
I’ve observed “members” of the “keep it real club” make strong negative comments and when confronted, they deny their words and withdraw sheepishly with a lie on their tongues, and their self-esteem in their pockets.
What about you? Do you keep it real in your world? If so, how would you grade yourself on the scale?
The Costly Consequences
Of Unrequited Love
by Bonita Bennett
A woman in Texas spotted her ex-boyfriend in a bank after he’d gone missing four years ago and killed him by stabbing him in the neck from behind. When the police arrived, she stated calmly that she killed him because he deserted her for another woman without saying goodbye. This story is not an uncommon one. Statistics show that there’s a preponderance of men and women in this millennium age, who allow their feelings and emotions to get so out of control, that they’re forfeiting their freedom by committing unspeakable crimes of passion.
I used to visit the female inmates at The Cook County Correctional Center in Chicago and I met a number of women of all ages from all walks of life, who were locked up because they either killed their lover or their lover’s lover. Some were stately and poised, and appeared out of place on the steel benches that lined their cells, while others were scarred and hardened from a life of pain and rejection.
I received a letter from a female inmate serving time at a prison in downstate Illinois that painted a poignant picture of how our actions can have costly consequences regardless of who we are. Like so many, she had let her emotions dictate her actions,when she killed her lover’s lover. She wrote…
“I never thought I would find myself riding down the Interstate on a bus loaded
with inmates on my way to Dwight. When we got there, I was put in a cell with a girl young enough to be my daughter and a woman old enough to be my grandmother. She never receives mail or visitors, and is too old to receive a state pay of $15.00 per month.
In the stillness of the night, I can hear her pleading with God to relieve her of her loneliness, pain and suffering and praying to die. Before the sun rises, you can hear someone crying down the hall, and you realize that she’s crying for her freedom. This woman has already served five years locked in a small cell 24/7. She can only shower three times a week for five minutes. As tears fill my eyes, I can hear myself saying out loud, ‘Lord, deliver me from this place.’ I ask myself, how I in the world did I get myself in this situation, but in reality I know how it all came about. But it’s too late now. What’s done is done.” As I open my window to let some cool night air sift through the steel bars, I fill my lungs with a fresh breeze, and stare at the moon and the stars. I hear a train making its way down a nearby track, and for a moment I imagine everything as beautiful and peaceful, and at the height of my reverie, the prison bullhorn bellows through the darkness and staunchly reminds me that I am secured and far away from the reality world I once belonged to.”
Rich Are You?
by Bonita Bennett
I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was sitting alone at my grandfather’s bedside as he lay dying. I was holding his hand when he uttered his last words. “Baby, I’m on my way to the Promised Land, and my only regret is that I’ve never had a real friend.” In the midst of my grief, his words struck me as odd, since I was of the staunch opinion that he had a bevy of friends judging from all the associations I knew about. But since that time, I have come to realize the true meaning of his words, and the emptiness he must have felt.
As I write this, I can think of a number of people who are well-known, “admired” and always in a crowd, who admittedly walk alone through life’s curves and valleys with not one person to claim as a real friend. I discovered long ago that friends come in a variety of “packages” with false labels that are often confusing to our psyches. Real friendship entails so many facets that are partly indefinable that we have a tendency to confuse truth with perception.
A common thought is that buddies, as we claim to know them could be categorized by two words…pal or friend. For example: A friend squeals over your high times. A pal envies your success or is not made privy to it. A friend is genuinely interested in what’s going on with you. A pal doesn’t ask.
A pal has never seen you cry. A friend has wiped your tears. A pal doesn’t know who to reach in case of emergency. A friend has the names listed in a book.
A friend listens intently to your problem or woes. A pal can’t wait for his/her turn to “share” their stuff. A pal brings a bottle of wine to your party. A friend stays and helps you clean up. A pal wonders about your love life. A friend could blackmail you. On special occasions, a pal wishes you well… a friend buys you a gift. A pal thinks the friendship is over, when you argue. A friend knows a friendship isn’t official, until you’ve had a fight. A pal may discuss you behind your back. A friend won’t allow it. With pals, you may have fun together, but there are sides to yourself that you just don’t share. Your “friendship” has some common ground, but it also has boundaries due to a difference in perspective or values. With a real friend, there are no limits. You trust this person with the issues of your heart and your graveyard secrets. You have no fear of vulnerability, for they are with you and you know it.
Sadly, in today’s world, our lives are fast paced and private agendas greatly dominate our existence as we rush back and forth in pursuit of success and personal fulfillment that does not necessarily include garnering real friendships or learning how to be one.
The great writer, Emily Dickinson once wrote, “I consider my friends to be my estate.” I agree. I believe the true richness in life is the attainment of meaningful friendships and I consider myself wealthy by this standard. My only regret is that my grandfather failed to reap this blessing before leaving this earth.