Step Out Of Your Outdated Definition of Self!

Step Out Of Your Outdated Definition of Self!

Have you ever told yourself “That’s not me!” “I’m not the type of person who would…” or “Not in a million years would I…”?

Day after day, I hear stories from people who are certain about who they are, how they will react to situations, and what is or isn’t in their realm of possibilities.

They tell themselves things like:

  • I will never...get divorced, get married again, date someone ten years older or younger than myself.

  • There is no way I could...sing karaoke, speak in public, live anywhere but NYC, travel by myself, jump out of a plane.

  • It’s not important to me or I don’t care about…having a child, getting involved with politics, making money.

  • I could never... set a boundary, be selfish, lazy, or cheap, act spoiled, be friends with that person, emotionally survive the loss of a loved one.

But then something happens and boom - they are confronted with an opportunity or some situation that challenges their belief system. They are challenged with giving up control and being vulnerable. They are faced with letting go of the safety of the self they have known and defined themselves to be. They are tested with the dilemma of remaining in or breaking free from their self-imposed box.

Although I am a great believer in being aware of who we are and what we stand for, learning from our past, and being conscious of what has and has not served our highest, I have also come to realize that:

Thinking we know ourselves minimizes ourselves.

Many of our self-imposed rules, although masquerading in the guise of “this is who I am” and "this is what is best for me," come from our ego's need to control, be “right,” and to protect us.  Driving this ego's need is generally a deep-seated fear that if we let go or at all digress from the self or beliefs that we think we know, our lives might spin out of control.

However, when you label it, you limit it.  The costs of being attached to the self we think we are and have defined our self to be are great. Our choices become limited. Our thinking becomes narrowed. Our present becomes a repeat of our past. We live a life dictated by who we were yesterday. And, any new possibilities for the future cease to exist because we become stuck in the rigidity of our righteousness of who we think we are.  We lose touch with the fact that our righteous positions are not the truth, but thoughts that we have turned into truths and that our attachment to our outdated sense of self are rooted in insecurity and fear and blind us to seeing a reality greater than narrow view of self.

The truth is that in any moment we have the choice to step out of the definition of the person we have known are self to be and step into the person we are meant to become.

To do this requires two essential ingredients: humility and surrender.

Humility is the antidote to righteousness. It enables us to relinquish control as well as our need to be “right.” It liberates us with the freedom that comes with finally being able to admit that we don’t have a clue. It is the prelude to surrender.

When we surrender, we are finally able to let go and free ourselves from the attachment of our definition of self.  Instead of resisting change and limiting self-growth, surrender allows us to change, redefine who we are, grow and flow with the current of our evolutionary process. 

For me, a person who always tried to "get it right" and keep myself safe, it is now with a sigh of relief and a smile that I can admit, "I have no clue!" And that is the good news! The fact is the Universe holds countless amazing and inspiring futures.Thinking I know who I am and what is possible, I might miss the invitation to live and become something beyond my wildest imagination.

So this week I invite you to join me in challenging your definition of self.As Lao Tzu said,

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

Transformational Action Steps

1. Make a list of some of your self-imposed rules as well as the ways in which you define yourself.If you need help, then finish these sentences:

  • I will never…

  • There is no way I could…

  • It’s not important to me or I don’t care about…

  • I could never…

2.  Think about how these rules or definitions actually limit you and what would be possible if you didn’t live inside these limits.

3. Challenge yourself to take do something outside your limited definition of self.

If you truly want to live beyond your limits and step in infinite possibilities, then I invite you to join me and some of the world’s greatest visionaries and manifesters for “Global Gathering 2019 - The Summer of Infinite Potential” August 23rd to 26th in Phoenix, Arizona. I can promise you that after 3 days with this amazing group of people you will feel turned on, lit up and ready to claim your power, expand your possibilities and transform your life!

3 Keys To Emotional Independence

3 Keys To Emotional Independence

Happy Independence Day - the day we celebrate our “unalienable rights” to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom!  Now of course there are many ways to achieve living life to the fullest, feeling liberated, and attaining happiness, but I can promise you that if you truly want to let freedom ring, then you must foster emotional independence.    Emotional independence is being able to stand in your power, and to make choices based on what is in your highest versus as a reaction to external circumstances. And the crazy thing is, that even though “unalienable rights” are defined as those that cannot be surrendered, transferred, given away to, or revoked by another, the fact is that most of us give away our power when it comes to emotional independence and let outside sources rob of us our joy, equilibrium, internal knowing, and sense of self.

So, if your day, mood, or reactions are being controlled by:

  • the way your butt and thighs look in your jeans,

  • whether a person you are dating asks you out for Saturday night or texts you the day after you slept together,

  • a disagreement you’ve had with a family member,

  • someone else’s opinion of you, or

  • your desire to numb out and avoid dealing with certain situations,

then chances are you need some support in fostering emotional independence.

Here are 3 tips to aid you on your path to true freedom.

Tip #1: Befriend the Full Spectrum of Your Emotions 

Most of us have a strained relationship with our emotions.  We have been trained or trained ourselves not to feel. We have become masters at distancing ourselves from and suppressing our emotions, shutting down, numbing out, keeping busy, and staying in our heads, all so that we don’t have to feel what we perceive will be hurtful.  In our efforts to protect ourselves from potential pain, we lose access to some of our greatest tools and teachers - our emotions!  Our emotions are our greatest guide.  Like an all- knowing GPS, they are there to inform us when something feels off or right for us. Yet, the problem is, we can’t learn from something we refuse to look at.  To cultivate emotional independence, we must allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of our emotions, to use them as learning tools and guides, and to freely express them in healthy and constructive ways. 

Tip #2: Take A U-Turn Back To Yourself

Most of us look to the outer world for love, validation, affirmation, and stability. We are emotionally dependent on others as well as external circumstances to fill our cup, make our day, and inform our sense of self. However, as long as we keep looking outside ourselves for our answers as well as our self-worth, we will never feel free.  To foster emotional independence, we must take a U-turn back to ourselves.  We must learn to go inward and tap into our truth. We must become self-referred.  Self-referral is a way of continually looking to yourself instead of the outer world for approval, answers, and guidance. It empowers you to clear away the voices of society, friends, family, and the people-pleaser inside of you that is looking for love and validation so that you can finally connect with your inner wisdom (as well as your likes and wants) and live in your authenticity.

Tip #3: Step Into Radical Responsibility

To feel safe enough to live in our truth, confident enough to follow our gut, and liberated enough to live authentically, we must be able to trust ourselves.
  But unfortunately, deep down inside most of us don’t trust ourselves.  And why should we? 

How many times have we:

  •  said we would speak up, and then sat silent,

  • known the person was not right for us, but stayed in a relationship out of comfort or convenience,

  • promised ourselves that this week things would be different, only to break that promise to ourselves by Tuesday?

 

We break promises to ourselves all of the time. And it is all of these broken promises, that fosters our lack of self-trust and whittles away at our ability to be emotionally independent. To turn the tides on distrust and bolster our sense of emotional independence, we must turn words into action and step into radical responsibility. 

Radical responsibility means taking 100% responsibility not only for the emotions we are feelings but also our capacity to listen to, honor, and act upon these emotions.  To be emotionally independent we must be able to count on ourselves, our ability to make and carry out high-level choices and actions, as well as our capability to navigate life in a healthy, effective, and self-honoring way.

So this week I invite you to join me in exploring and celebrating the gift of emotional independence.  As Debbie Ford said in her book Courage,


"When you have emotional independence,
you want for nothing because you have everything.”

 

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Befriend the Full Spectrum of Your Emotions:
  Begin a practice of tuning in and connecting to your emotions.  A few times each day, make an effort to pause from whatever it is you are doing and ask yourself, “What am I feeling?”  It may sound odd, but the truth is many people have no idea what they are feeling at any given moment.  It takes pausing from what you are doing and tuning into your feelings on a consistent basis to get connected to even emotional world.  And remember, this exercise is not about doing anything with what you are feeling, for example if you are feeling sad, nervous, anxious, you don’t need to try to fix it.  This exercise is just about developing a deep relationship with your emotional world.

(2) Take a U-turn Back to Yourself: Start noticing how much you give your power away to others.  Notice how much you look to others for love, approval and your answers.  When you feel yourself looking to the external world for others, picture yourself taking that U-turn back to yourself.  Ask yourself questions like:  “What is right for me in this situation?” or “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?” Practice tapping into to your answers.

(3) Step Into Radical Responsibility:  It’s time to fortify your muscle of self-trust with action.  After asking yourself questions like: “What is right for me in this situation?” or “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?” you must act upon what you are hearing.

If you feel called to take back your power and ignite your sense of emotional independence, then I invite you to join me and some of the world’s greatest visionaries and manifesters for “Global Gathering 2019 - The Summer of Infinite Potential” August 23rd – 26th in Phoenix, Arizona. I can promise you that after 3 days with this amazing group of people you will feel turned on, lit up and ready to claim your power, expand your possibilities and transform your life!

Are You Having Fun Yet?

Are You Having Fun Yet?

Happy Summer!  The season of relaxation, vacations, warm weather, and FUN!  But after teaching hundreds of programs and working with thousands of people, I know that the reality is most people have a hard time having fun!   We have a hard time putting their to-do lists down, kicking back, and prioritizing our need to just have fun.   And when it comes to comparing our level of satisfaction as well as the time and effort we put into having fun, especially when compared to other areas of their life, having fun generally ranks last on the list. 

Can you relate?

So, even though we are all so quick to say “Have Fun!” and it feels like it should be a relatively easy task to do, then why is it so damn difficult for so many of us to just…have fun? What is it that gets in our way? And, what can we do to increase our capacity to enjoy?

Below are three tips to support you in having more… “Hot Fun in The Summertime!”

Tip #1: Uncover Your “Fun Blocks”

Chances are, something happened in your youth which impacted your ability to have fun.
  Whether as a child,

●      you were admonished or even punished for being irresponsible or lazy,

●      you were told “Hard work pays off!” or raised in an environment where you felt the need to prove your worth, or

●      you or someone around you was  put down or even shamed for being “bad,” “the class clown,” “party girl,” or “mess up,” something happened that made you feel that it was wrong or unsafe to relax and enjoy.


As you may know, our shadows are the parts of ourselves, the qualities that we disown, don’t like, don’t want to be or feel shame around displaying because we judge them as wrong or embarrassing. Shadows are born as a result of the beliefs of our family, community, or the environment we were raised in or because of some event that happened when we are young. So, when it comes to fun, not wanting to be lazy or frivolous, feeling shame around being called irresponsible or unproductive, being raised in an environment that rewarded hard work over enjoyment, or just being raised in an environment that was toxic, sterile, or serious, can all impact and limit our ability to go for the gusto and just enjoy life.

To break through your fun blocks, you need to start by looking back and asking yourself questions like:

“What happened that had me disown the fun part of myself?” 
“What happened that made me feel that having fun was bad or not safe?”

Just by bringing awareness to what happened and realizing that it was the sweet, innocent child inside of you who wanted to be loved and accepted that was afraid to have fun, might transform your ability to have fun. By finding compassion for that child who felt unsafe to have fun, you can finally give them and yourself permission to play!

Tip #2: Change Your Relationship With Fun

Most of us have a conditional relationship with fun. We see it as a reward.
  Dating back to our childhood and being told that we needed to “finish our homework” or “do our chores” before we could play, these messages altered our relationship with fun. 

Fun wasn’t a right or a necessity, but a privilege that needed to be earned and was often doled out sparingly.  For some, fun became an unattainable dream, because it could only be attained by making a certain amount of money, when everything was “perfect,” or when we could finally prove that we were good or deserving enough to stop doing and start enjoying.  In order to step into having more fun, we need to shift our relationship with it and begin seeing it through new eyes.

What if you viewed fun as your birthright instead of a reward?

The truth is that not only do we have a right to have fun, but it is a necessity!

Fun and relaxation are part of our self-care. They impact our mood, health, creativity, vitality, as well as our connection to others.  They help us recharge and rejuvenate and get our juices flowing so that we will actually be more productive, effective, energetic, and enthusiastic.  To change our relationship with fun, we need to start thinking about it differently. To play without guilt, we need to acknowledge the importance of fun and to own that we are worthy and deserving of self-care!

Tip #3: Schedule in Fun

I know that fun is supposed to feel spontaneous and free.  To some, “scheduling” in anything feels laborious and the exact opposite of fun. But the fact is, how many summers have we said we were going to do something, and before we knew it September was here and we never got around to taking that Friday off, swimming after dinner, making ice-cream, or having that family outing or girlfriend gathering?

Setting aside time for fun and relaxation can be difficult.  Sticking to the leisure plans we’ve  made can be even harder since other more “pressing matters” tend to come up, guilt sets in, and we all have dozens of excuses as to why we can’t do something or need to cancel.

So, just like we did when we were kids or most of us do or did for our children, we need to schedule play dates! We need to designate time in our schedules that are just for play and relaxation.  You don’t necessarily need to know what you are going to do when you make room for fun in your schedule, that can be spontaneous, but if you don’t schedule it in and commit to it, it is likely to never happen!

So if you are ready to have more fun this summer, create a structure for planning ahead and scheduling in play days!  Chances are you will be happier and healthier for it! 

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Uncover Your Fun Blocks: Become curious as to what happened that impacted your ability to have fun and dwell in the questions:

“What happened that had me disown the fun part of myself?” 

“What happened that made me feel that having fun was bad or not safe?”

(2) Change Your Relationship With Fun:

-       Think about the conditions you put on your relationship with fun.  When do you allow yourself to have fun?  Is it a reward or a right? 

-       Next expand your thinking and ask yourself what would be possible if you allowed yourself to have more fun? How would your life be different? What would you have more of?

(3) Schedule in Fun:

-       Grab your calendar and schedule in times designated for having fun.

-       Make a list of the things that bring you joy or that are on your bucket list. Think about the things you used to enjoy as a kid, the things you’ve been saying you want to do. Invite your friends and family to join in your fun. Come up with family bucket list ideas, girlfriend adventures, and write them down and schedule in now.

Hope you...have fun!

If you feel drawn to the notion of having more fun in every aspect of your life, then I invite you to join me and some of the world’s greatest visionaries and manifesters for “Global Gathering 2019 - The Summer of Infinite Potential” August 23rd - 26th in Phoenix, Arizona. I can promise you that after 3 days with this amazing group of people you will feel turned on, lit up and ready to claim your power, expand your possibilities and transform your life!

And please share with someone who you think would resonate with this messaging today!

Igniting the Fire of Your Inner Desire!

Igniting the Fire of Your Inner Desire!

I am always in awe of people who start with a passing conversation or idea and then actually make it happen! Many of us have a great thought or a brainstorm yet it never gets off the ground or comes to fruition. So when it comes to creating something from nothing, doing something you have never done before, or putting yourself out there in a whole new way, what drives those who do versus those who just think or talk about it? What have they tapped into inside themselves that fuels their fire and carries their commitment?

Answer? Desire!

Desire is the most important catalyst for bringing about radical change.

It is the spark that ignites the flame of your soul and illuminates your innate creativity, passion, and vision. It is the impulse that seeds your ambition and sources your energy to share your unique talents with the world. It is fuel that has you go through whatever tests, training, or development necessary to be all that you can be.

In its purest form, desire drives you to let go of the safety of your status-quo. It makes you want something so badly that you are willing to do whatever it takes in order to manifest your dreams. Yet generally desire does not come without a long list of doubts! And for many of us it is our fear, insecurity, or doubt that has derailed the pursuit of our desires.

To stoke our internal fire so we can keep driving toward the destination of our desires, we must:

  1. Stop denying our desires and give voice to that which we long for in our heart. We must name and claim our desire before it can materialize in the outer world.

  2. Make a commitment to not only manifest our desire but also to not quit on ourselves if the going gets tough. Accepting from the beginning that this is new and there will be real setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges makes it easier to lean in, hold on, and navigate the speed bumps along the way.

  3. Have the compassion and patience we would have for others if they were taking on something new. When those bumps in the road appear, instead of beating ourselves up, we must speak to ourselves the way we would to a friend we admire for having the guts to take on something new.

  4. Ignite our confidence and courage. To walk through the unknown, have trust in ourselves and our abilities, and take on whatever is being thrown at us along the road of creation and manifestation takes confidence and courage. They are the antidote to our fear as well as “the wind beneath our wings” when it comes to moving forward and living in alignment with our deepest desires.

Every day we have the opportunity to unearth the desires that may be covered over with days or years of fear and resignation. Do not wait another day to become fully engaged in your life and to live with greater purpose and meaning. This is not a dress rehearsal! You can create your own red carpet experience.

Transformational Action Steps 

(1) Give voice to that which your heart longs for and make a list of your desires. Think about the things that you want to achieve in the outer world and those that you long to feel inside. Do you want more peace, more love, a clearer sense of purpose, greater peace of mind? If so, write it down. Do you desire more money, more friends, a soulmate, a child, or a new career? If so, write it down. This is the time to list all of your desires without censoring yourself. Be honest. Be bold.

(2) Create an action plan.  To turn your dreams into reality it takes action.  Now that you’ve given voice to your desire, map out an action plan that includes goals and milestones.  Yes, the plan may take twists and turns along the way and you may need to alter it.  But you need to start somewhere.  Create the plan.  Make sure you check in every week to determine what action steps you should be taking that week.  Review the plan every few weeks to see if it needs any revisions.  It’s amazing what happens when you take consistent action steps toward the destination of your desires!

If you feel drawn to the notion of “Igniting The Fire Of Your Inner Desire” and know in your soul that it’s time, then I invite you to join me and some of the world’s greatest visionaries and manifesters for “Global Gathering 2019 - The Summer of Infinite Potential” August 23rd – 26th in Phoenix, Arizona. I can promise you that after 3 days with this amazing group of people you will feel turned on, lit up, and ready to claim your power, expand your possibilities, and transform your life!

How to Live Beyond Your Limits

How to Live Beyond Your Limits

“We’re not the cause, we’re the effect.” - Nipsey Hussle

I am always in awe of the divine design of life. A true believer in the philosophy that “there are no coincidences,” I am always fascinated by the people who cross my path. Whether it be someone I am standing next to in a long line or the person who sits next to me at seminar, workshop, or dinner party, I am always curious as to what the connection will be and why we are crossing each other’s path at that moment in time. This is especially true when I travel – I am always intrigued to see who will be in the seat next to me and why.

About nine months ago, I was flying from Miami to Los Angeles. Trained to get on the plane as early as you can to get that overhead space, I was all settled in and just waiting for my flying partner to appear. A man in his thirties wearing big gold with diamonds chains finally came and claimed the seat next to me. As he got comfortable in his window seat, I realized that many of the people walking by seemed to know and pay homage to him with a high-five, thumbs-up, or some sort of gesture of recognition and respect. Now totally curious as to who he was, I decided to ask. He humbly and gracefully explained that he was a rapper. Later he shared that his name was Nipsey Hussle.

Admittedly, I had no idea who he was. However, being someone who works with so many people who feel stuck, cannot get out of their own way, or remain the victim of their past or some life situation, I am always in awe of the people who manage to move past their stories of victimization - “Oh woe is me” or “life is unfair” - and manifest huge success. Wanting to learn more about who he was and what had driven him, we chatted for a while. He shared about where he had come from, his family, his work ethic, his different business ventures, and all that he was doing to give back to the community. Reflecting on all he had created, he said that what really struck him is that one day he woke up and found that he had “crossed that imaginary line.

My conversation with Nipsey has stuck with me. The fact is, whether we realize it or not, most of us have this imaginary (or, for some people, very vivid), line of what we think is possible. We have stories filled with limiting beliefs about what we think we can achieve or manifest in our lifetime. Think of the times you have told yourself that you can’t do, have, or achieve something because of your age, background, physical appearance, finances, education, or life circumstances.

Think of the times you believed thoughts such as, I’m:

  • from the wrong side of town to ever amount to anything,

  • too old to start a new career,

  • not educated enough to get a better job or pursue my passion,

  • destined to live a life just like or no bigger than my parents,

  • not significant or engaging enough to fit in with a certain group of people, or

  • not fit, good-looking, or interesting enough to find love

Whether we realize it or not, we are drawing a line in the sand that more likely than not will become an unscalable wall.

But here is the thing. The line is not real! It is made up of thoughts and stories that we have repeated to ourselves so many times that we have come to believe they are the truth!

But they are not.

That is why it is crucial to learn to bust our beliefs and to start consciously distinguishing between thoughts and truths.

Truths are facts. They are details that can be verified by others, like: I am __ years old, I am single, my level of education is ___ . Our thoughts are the meanings we attach to these facts. They are not truths but interpretations. Unfortunately, most of us tend to create negative interpretations of the facts of our life and it is the limiting stories and beliefs that we make up that keep us stuck, never crossing or even realizing that we have drawn this imaginary line that is in the way of us reaching our desires.

The good news is that just like we are the ones who drew the line and created the self-imposed barriers, we have the power to obliterate them. How? By changing our thoughts.

There are two kinds of thoughts. There are those that imprison us and those that empower us. Since neither category of thought is more true than the other, at any moment we can replace a thought that imprisons us with the one that empowers us. We can go from “stinking thinking” and always believing, “I am not…” and “I cannot…” to the power of positivity and the realization that “I am…” and “I can…” We can cross over the line and bust through the barriers that we once might have thought were impenetrable road blocks.

It was never my intention to ever write about this concept of the imaginary line. It was Nipsey’s story to tell and after a little encouragement, he agreed it would make a great song.

Like many of you, I was shocked and saddened to hear that Nipsey Hussle was murdered a few months ago. I am still not 100% sure why our paths crossed that day on the airplane, but I do know as a tribute to him, a person who I probably would have never met in my day-to-day life, but for some reason sat next to on a 5-hour flight, it felt fitting to share what I learned from him.

It is vital that all of us realize that transformation is a shift in perception. By shifting our thoughts from those that imprison us to those that empower us, we can bust through the confines of our smallest thoughts and enjoy the vastness of a life beyond our wildest dreams.

So this week I invite you to start uncovering the lines you might have drawn.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Think about a goal or desire you have.

(2) As you ponder this goal or desire, be aware of the negative thoughts that flood your mind and tell you why you can’t have this goal. Write these down.

(3) Allow yourself to really see how these negative thoughts have stopped you, kept you stuck, and have created a line between what you desire and what you are experiencing.

(4) Now replace the thoughts. Since they are just interpretations, see if you can replace the thoughts that imprison you with ones that empower you.

(5) Let these empowering thoughts be the “wind beneath your wings” as you create a plan to realize your desires.

To gain even more insight on how to cross the invisible line to live a life of integrity and abundance, you can read my book The Integrity Advantage or book a one-on-one session with me. If you want to learn more about how to love yourself and your body, please join me at my upcoming in-person workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega June 14th-16th, 2019.

Stop Covering Your Butt!

Stop Covering Your Butt!

When I recently attended a bootcamp class at my gym, I noticed this adorable twenty-something standing next to me. Although I have seen her before, I have never talked to her. Truth is, she generally works out every morning at 6 AM, whereas I stumble in at 7 AM. I have in the past overheard some of her conversations. They generally revolve around what she is eating and her asking advice from others since she is “starving herself and not losing any more weight.” Having been in that situation for a huge portion of my life, I have had tremendous empathy for her. Although part of me wanted to jump right in and save her, I could hear my three daughters (who are also in their twenties) in my head saying, “Mom, don’t be scary!” So beyond complimenting her whenever I could and was appropriate, I kept my scary-self quiet.

But on this day, my mind was on overdrive, stunned by the news that continues to come out of the growing number of reports of sexual assault and harassment as part of the #MeToo movement and of the women (and men) whom were silenced by the shadow of shame and frozen by fear.

In my mind, the battle-cry that kept sounding louder and louder was “Enough is enough!” It compelled me to look once again at my own life as well as in the world to see “In what situations and circumstances am I or others compromising, settling, accepting the unacceptable, quieting our voice, or stepping over our truth?”

I literally took on proactively walking through the world looking through the eyes of “Enough is enough!” not in a judgmental or make-wrong way but more in a social justice kind of way – a way of really looking at “Who do I want to be in the world? What do I want to stand for? and What can I no longer tolerate?” (This was very much motivated by what I wrote in an older blog post entitled “Join The Integrity Movement” and taking on being the change I want to see in the world.)

So that day, as I looked over at this beautiful being who was working out so hard, I was saddened and disturbed to see her wearing a sweatshirt tied around her waist, covering her butt! Now let me preface this by saying that I live in Miami where it is close to 90 degrees. No one needs or is wearing a big bulky sweatshirt. Having also spent many years literally and figuratively covering my ass, I knew exactly what this girl was doing and why! She was covering her ass because of shame!

In my book The Integrity Advantage, I have a chapter dedicated to what I call “Integrity Snatchers.” Integrity Snatchers are the constant companions, the characteristics and situations, that we all live with that diminish our sense of self, erode our self-trust, and whittle away at our birthright of integrity. Integrity Snatchers keep us from making the highest choices for ourselves and going for the life of our dreams. In my book, I talk about seven different Integrity Snatchers, the first of which is shame. In my book, I write:

Shame is one of the most painful emotions that there is. Our shame, which is generally birthed from some childhood event, teaches us to hide who we truly are because we fear that who we are is fundamentally flawed. Our shame leads us to believe that people won’t like us if they know who we truly are at our core. Our shame is what creates our external persona and robs us of authenticity.

Believing that we are our shame, fundamentally flawed, need fixing, are not to be trusted, and must hide, we dull down our desires and don’t strive for amazing. Why? Because we don’t believe we deserve amazing or can achieve amazing. Above all, we don’t want to feel the pain of our shame if we risk something and fail. The time bomb of our shame is ticking loudly and keeps us stuck and playing small. It leaves us paralyzed, fearing rejection, expecting disappointment, hiding who we are. It keeps us from reaching for the life we dream of and know we are meant to live.


Now I know there has been a lot of conversation about body-shamers – people who say nasty, inappropriate, and unwarranted things about others. Their comments and commentary are not needed or wanted. If given the opportunity, I would encourage these body-shamers to look at the purpose and intent of their words as well as the impact and really dig deep in the exploration of knowing that their words are their calling cards. Who do they want to be in the world? But enough about them.

Debbie Ford always used to say that other people cannot make you feel a certain way. In wrapping my arms around her theory, I used to imagine it like a hook and eye. If someone’s words or a situation stirs up a certain feeling, it is only because somewhere within you there is an eye to anchor in their hook. That is why the same words or event might not generate similar feelings in someone else – they don’t have the same wounds or sensitivities so they are not getting hooked in.

So, as I looked at this girl next to me, working out tirelessly, sweating profusely, trying to fix herself, and covering her butt, I started to think about all of the ways we consciously or often unconsciously shame ourselves.

Think of the times when you:

  • Wear baggy clothing to cover some part of your body

  • Negatively compare yourself to the person sitting next to you or to some celebrity

  • Don’t eat, spend money, or even sleep in public out of fear someone might think you are lazy or irresponsible

  • Quiet your voice, thinking your thoughts don’t matter or would sound stupid

  • Don’t take a risk or go for a dream or desire because you’re afraid to fail 


Although I know we all walk around on some level trying to guard ourselves from the pain and sting of rejection or embarrassment, the truth is that playing small makes us feel small – and that kills our soul and destroys our dreams! It is like we are constantly beating up that little, innocent beautiful child inside of us. It is abusive.

So today I am declaring “Enough is enough!” when it comes to us all shaming ourselves! I encourage you to really look around your life and see the ways you are whittling away at your self-esteem. As you go on this exploration, be mindful not to use anything you find to shame yourself even more. Be fascinated by what you find and amazed by the insidiousness of shame, especially when we do it to ourselves.

The only way to bust out of our shame is to bust out of our shame! It’s time to stop hiding, claim our right to be fully expressed, and dance in the light of authentic aliveness and the inspiration of integrity!

A person of integrity is someone whose life isn’t full of contradictions. They do as they say, and they say as they do. Who they are on the inside is who they are on the outside, and who they are on the outside is aligned with how they feel on the inside. They have declared what is important to them and who they want to be in this lifetime. The actions they take and choices they make are aligned with that declaration and reflect that they feel worthy and deserving to manifest that which they most desire.


As time has gone on, we have seen the courage of the “Me Too” movement spread throughout social media and the world. Women are stepping out of the shadow of shame and isolation and imprisonment of Integrity Snatchers. I am also happy to report that after mentioning my crusade to have people stop body-shaming themselves to a best friend of the girl with the sweatshirt, who quickly assured me that she too tells her friend to stop wearing shirts tied around her waist, the “girl with the sweatshirt” is no longer doing so. She came into the gym on Thursday for the first time without having something covering her butt!

I am still in awe of what can happen when we make that declaration of “Enough is enough!”

Transformational Action Steps

Start walking through life looking at your own life and in the world at the situations where “Enough is enough!”

(1)  Become fascinated by all of the ways you consciously or unconsciously shame yourself. What are the ways you cover up, quiet yourself, play small, or hide?

(2) Picture that little child inside of you and truly think about whether they deserve to be put down, pushed away, or put in the corner. Ask them, “What is the love that you need to step out of your shame and into the light?”

(3) Do something unrecognizable. Take on your shame and let your whole self shine!

To gain even more insight into Integrity Snatchers and learning to love yourself and your body, you can read my book The Integrity Advantage, book a one-on-one session with me, or join me at my upcoming in-person workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega June 14th-16th, 2019. 

You Are Not Your Shame

You Are Not Your Shame

Whenever I have the privilege of leading transformational workshops, I am always in awe of what an honor it is to be invited into people’s lives and have them share so openly about their past as well as the honest and raw feelings they have about themselves and their lives. I expect to feel the same sense of awe and privilege at my upcoming workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega in June 2019.  Of course, we are also seeing so much of this in today’s culture – people, especially women, coming forward and sharing about the assaults, attacks, abuse, and secrets that they have not wanted, been able, or felt ready to share.

Although I am always very mindful of never assuming I know or can even comprehend what someone else feels, since I never want to diminish someone else’s pain by comparing or making sweeping assumptions or generalizations, I think it is fair to say that most of us have endured situations that felt off, wrong, or were just downright soul-crushing. And, in order to deal with or manage the pain or to just do what we need to do to get by and function, we learned to manage it, push it down, remain silent, numb ourselves, or stay busy and try to forget about it.

Although all of our stories are personal and unique, whether it comes from what we are seeing in the news, the #MeToo movement, how we feel about our bodies, or the stories I hear from the people I have the privilege of working with, I am always so present to the insidiousness of the shame we all carry.

In my book The Integrity Advantage, I write,

Shame is one of the most painful emotions that there is. Our shame, which is generally birthed from some childhood event, teaches us to hide who we truly are because we fear that who we are is fundamentally flawed. Our shame leads us to believe that people won’t like us if they know who we truly are at our core. Our shame is what creates our external persona and robs us of authenticity.

Believing that we are our shame, fundamentally flawed, need fixing, are not to be trusted, and must hide, we dull down our desires and don’t strive for amazing. Why? Because we don’t believe we deserve amazing or can achieve amazing. Above all, we don’t want to feel the pain of our shame if we risk something and fail. The time bomb of our shame is ticking loudly and keeps us stuck and playing small. It leaves us paralyzed, fearing rejection, expecting disappointment, hiding who we are. It keeps us from reaching for the life we dream of and know we are meant to live.

We all have things we wish we did not do, things we wish didn’t happen to us, or things we feel anywhere from traumatized to embarrassed about. We have secrets of our own and often secrets of others, especially those of our family, that we carry around and that weigh us down. We have feelings of being less than, not good enough, the outsider, or bad, defective, unworthy, and unlovable. Shame is the tyrannical manager that sucks the life out of our dreams and desires and robs us of being authentic and having the intimacy we crave. It keeps our past dramas alive and prohibits us from being fully alive and expressed in the present. Our shame drives us to step over our truth and silence our voice. But here is the thing…

Every time we bite our tongue, we swallow our integrity.
And when we are out of integrity we don’t feel worthy and deserving of having a great life.

Fearing that we are our shame and that others will reject us if they know our “horrid truths” or see our true selves, most people try to hide or run away from their shame. They get busy in other areas of their life, trying to distance themselves from their shame. However, as is true with anything we fear or try to get away from, it is when we resist something that it holds on tighter.

“The only way out is through.”

The most potent antidote for toxic shame is sharing our secrets with others and learning to love ourselves. It is when we speak our truth and share our shameful stories that a weight is lifted and an incredible amount of energy is unleashed. Suddenly there’s space for compassion and forgiveness, for ourselves, our bodies, and for others. This is why after every workshop I lead, people are amazed that they feel lighter, are walking taller, and feel an inner radiance emanating from within…it is because they have released themselves from the shackles of shame.

This week I invite you to find someone you trust completely – whether it be a friend, family member, coach, or mental health professional – and share a piece of your own shame. Begin with whatever feels comfortable. Baby steps are welcome. The point is to give yourself the opportunity for deep connection and the support of another.

We all can rewrite our stories of shame. We can create new interpretations for the things that happened in our past and choose to view that which we have shame around as something that happened to us instead of the totality of who we are.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Become present to the shame you are carrying. Start seeing each story of shame as a ball and chain that you are lugging around.

(2) Begin looking at what you made those situations means about you and the shame that was birthed.

(3) Next, allow yourself to see how those meanings and your shame has impacted your life.

(4) Find someone you trust and share one of the secrets you have been carrying around that has been weighing you down. Take time to feel the impact of sharing this piece of you and what opens up as a result.

To learn more about uncovering and overcoming your shame and learning to love yourself and your body, you can read my book The Integrity Advantage, book a one-on-one session with me, or join me at my upcoming in-person workshop ‘The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving’ hosted by Omega June 14th-16th, 2019.

 

From Loathing to Loving: A New Relationship With Your Body

From Loathing to Loving: A New Relationship With Your Body

As we transition to warmer months, you’ve probably started to notice that bodies and skin are showing up everywhere. If you tune into daytime TV talk shows, you’ll start to see bikini fashion shows. On the bestseller list, diet books are on the rise. Gyms are full as people keep their beach bodies in shape. And dietitians are offering discounts to reach your summer body. 

It’s no surprise that this time of year can stir up a lot of shadows — the emotions, beliefs, habits, and patterns stored deep inside the psyche that dictate our relationships with our bodies. It’s prevalent in every program and workshop I do. Person after person shares the depths to which they have struggled with body issues and the years they have hated their bodies and thus themselves.

Personally, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image from a young age. The quality of my day used to be determined by the number on the scale. I would only feel worthy of being loved by myself or others if I looked a certain way. I had grown up with the belief that it was not okay to eat so in my book, food was the enemy. I made my body my enemy!

Every day, I was in an all-out war and very out of integrity. I spent every moment evaluating, “Who is winning — me or my body?” Would I pass up the carb or take a bite of the piece of pizza? Could I push myself to exercise for another hour despite the swelling in my knee? Would I find the next “miracle” cream to take away the wrinkles? This minute-by-minute battle was exhausting. Even me, a person who trains people to become Integrative Coaches, a person who guides people to blast through their limitations and accept, love, and embrace all of who they are, saw my body as an external foe which continually needed to be defeated!

Armed with this awareness of my own shadow, I chose to reinvent my relationship with my body. I became more loving and accepting of my body. I no longer abused and starved it. I began to view my body as a fine automobile and I understand it’s my job to keep it well-oiled and functioning impeccably. I rewired my operating system by unconcealing, owning, and embracing my shadow. It was only then that I achieved my once elusive goals for my weight and well-being — not from a place of self-hate or shame but rather from a place of deep love.

Debbie Ford wrote in The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse, “To transform your relationship with your body, you must embrace the agent of change known as reverence. When you are present to the absolute gift you have been blessed with – the sacredness of having a body – you will begin to move in the world with more grace, gratitude and humility than you ever thought possible.”

I love this quote because I believe that our bodies are a sacred gift. They provide the opportunity for us to experience life and the evolution of our souls. Instead of hating our bodies, battling with them and constantly trying to fix or change them, we need to love them, make peace with them, cherish them, and treat them with kindness, compassion, and respect. Wondering how to start today? Check out the action steps below to begin and be sure to leave a comment on my social media channels - Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter  with your experience!

Transformational Action Steps

(
1) Identify something loving you can do for your body this week. Your body will tell you what it needs if you take the time to ask and listen for the answer. So ask your body what it needs and commit to doing what it tells you. Looking for suggestions: perhaps your body is asking for an epsom salt bath, a sunset walk after work, a home cooked meal, or trying out a hobby!

(
2) Start viewing your body as a sacred gift. Spend three minutes in front of the mirror every day and take in the blessings that your body gives you. Affirm what is right about your body. Send gratitude to each of your parts and declare out loud how each part serves you. For example: take a look at your feet with the perspective of them allowing you stability, the opportunity to walk around, the ability to ground yourself.

(3) To free yourself from the limitations that impact and sabotage your relationship with your body, register for The Body Shadow: From Self-Loathing to Self-Loving workshop hosted by Omega June 14-16th, 2019.

(4) For a massive body breakthrough, RUN (don’t walk!) to purchase a copy of The Integrity Advantage to live your life fiercely and confidently!

Break Free From The Shadows That Drive Your Parenting

Break Free From The Shadows That Drive Your Parenting

These past few weeks, I like many of you have been shocked, rocked, and somewhat horrified by the college admissions scandal in which parents paid a college consultant to falsify their children’s records, bribe test administrators and college coaches, and cheat on entrance exams so that their children could gain admission to elite universities.

Although I in no way condone what these parents did, I do have empathy for any child who is being told directly or indirectly that who they are is not good enough to take a college exam or to apply to college on their own merits.  Although it is easy to judge these parents who are accused of committing a crime, our personal growth does not come by judging others.  Our evolution comes by using the situation to take a deeper look inside of ourselves - asking ourselves questions such as “How we are like the people we judge?” and “How can we learn from this situation?”

Being a perfectionist/overachiever, there is no question that, in the name of “wanting what was best for my children,” I helped them, pushed them, and tried to steer them in directions which I believed would lead to their “success.”  Whether it was bringing them the homework they forgot at home so they wouldn’t get an incomplete mark, proofreading an essay, or, when they were young, doing their art projects for them.

I can now see how my actions potentially crossed that line of too much parental involvement and could have communicated to my children “Mommy is doing it because I am not smart enough, responsible enough, just plain…not good enough.”

It was actually not until I got into this work that I realized how my insecurities, fears, and shadows were driving my parenting and impacting my children’s sense of self. Here are some of my “ahas” that radically shifted my parenting style.

Find Peace With Your Parental Projections

Our shadows are made up of the qualities that we don’t like, judge as negative, or disown in ourselves.  They are the parts of ourselves we want to hide, manage, and tend to overcompensate for so no one will ever find out that these characteristics reside inside of us.  That is why the people who have shame about being irresponsible often become the ultra-responsible or those who think it is bad to be selfish can never set any boundaries or say “NO.”  They never want to feel the pain or shame of being the quality they hate.

But here’s the thing. Hating and judging these qualities does not stop with just ourselves.  The qualities we judge as bad or negative in ourselves are the ones we judge as bad or negative in others.  Simply put, what we can't be with in ourselves we can’t be with in others.  This is especially true when it comes to our children since they are the ones who most of us, consciously or unconsciously, feel are the most profound extension of who we are. So, any quality we judge and make wrong in ourselves we will judge in our children. And just like we will push ourselves, we will push our children to get rid of, overcome, hide, or manage the existence of these traits. 

For example, if you have shame around being left out or not belonging, chances are you will push your child to be popular or create scenarios where they are always having social plans. If you were embarrassed about being chubby as a kid, chances are you will push your child to not be overweight.

If, like in my case, you had a need to be special, you might project your need to be perfect and an “A student” on your children which results in them feeling anxious about coming home with any grade other than an A.

It was not until I started learning about the shadow, projection, and the concept of wholeness that I could make peace with the parts of myself that I judged as wrong. When I could see that the gift of stupid is that it gave me a huge appetite for learning or that the gift of failure was that it allowed me to let go of situations that no longer served me, then I could embrace these traits that I hated for so long. And the blessing for my children was that not only could I embrace them in myself but also in my children.  As I stepped into owning that I was smart and stupid, perfect and flawed, exciting and boring, extrovert and introvert, responsible and irresponsible, I gave them the space to own and be all of who they are!

Uncovering Your Parental Meaning-Making Machine

We are all meaning-making machines.
  Anytime something happens in our lives, whether we had control over it or not, we attach a meaning to it.  Generally, the meaning comes back to being that we did something wrong or right, good or bad, which then reinforces or diminishes our sense of self.

After working with thousands of people, I can safely say that most of us truly want to be “good parents.” We have hopes and dreams for the lives we want our children to live and the quality of the person they will become.  We have expectations of who we will be as parents and believe that who we are as parents will influence the “success” of our children. 

Conversely, our inner parental meaning-making machine also tells us that our children’s “successes” or “failures” are a result of how “good” or “bad” we are as a parent. So, if our child gets into a good college, is cast as the lead in a play, lands a high-paying job, or is always complimented for being, “beautiful, poised, witty, smart, compassionate…” not only did we do we kvell with pride but we also make it mean that we succeeded and did something right as a parent.  Not only do our children’s accomplishments serve as our badge of honor but they also act as a statement to ourselves and the world that we did something right… that we are a good parent!

Ultimately, we need to uncover and bust open our parental meaning-making machine.  The fact is that the meanings we make from any given situation are just interpretations. They are not the truth.  Having your child lose a chess competition, not get elected to a class officer, or not gain admission to an Ivy League college might be the best thing that ever happened to them!  But chances are a positive will never come from a loss, rejection, or disappointment if you are not open to seeing that.

Bottom line, it all comes down toFaith and Surrender!

As a mother, one of the most challenging lessons I and so many other parents I know have had to learn is the process of faith and surrender when it comes to our children. As much as our instinct is to be a "good parent" and try to protect and probably control our children's journey, do we really know what is ultimately in their highest? This is why we need to have faith in our children, ourselves, and the Universe.  There is a reason that their souls joined with your soul in this lifetime.  Cultivating faith serves as the wind beneath our wings which allows us to surrender.

Just as there is a divine design and plan to our lives, the same is true for our children.

Every experience our children have is part of their evolutionary development.  Ultimately, it is part of our job as a parent to let go and get out of the way.  When we stop holding on and trying to control so tightly, that is where the magic happens since we truly have no idea about why something is happening or what is possible!

So this week I invite you to join me in re-examining your parenting style.  If you are not a parent then join in looking at how your shadows impact your relationships.

Transformational Action Steps

1) Make Peace With Your Parental Projections: Make a list of the qualities that you judge as negative or don’t like in yourself.  Allow yourself to see how you project and judge these traits on to others.  What are the traits that you can’t be with in yourself that you can’t be with in others, especially your children?  Become aware of the cost of your judgments. What is the impact on yourself, your children, and the people around you as a result of your judgments. To make peace with these qualities, allow yourself to see how these qualities could actually serve you.  What would you have more of or be able to do different if you could embrace being selfish, irresponsible, imperfect, etc.?

2) Uncover Your Parental Meaning-Making Machine: Start noticing the magnitude and impact of your meaning-making machine.  Start writing down situations that happened and the meanings you created around them. For those of you who are parents, really pay attention to the events that happen involving your children. Then ask yourself:

●      What did I make this mean about me?

●      What did I make this mean about my children, others, or the world?

Next, start poking holes in your meaning-making machine.  Ask yourself, “Is my meaning the truth or my interpretation?”  Since none of the meanings are true, see if you can replace the old disempowering meaning with one that empowers you.

3) Cultivate Faith and Surrender: To aid you in strengthening your faith and having the courage to surrender, start looking back at your own life.  Journal about the “divine design” of your life.  How do you see that one situation or person lead you to or prepared you for the next?  Like a person on a treasure hunt, be in awe of what you see!

If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of living in integrity, I urge you to read The Integrity Advantage as it will help you navigate even more transformational action steps to overcoming your shadow and living from a state of wholeness. If you have any questions, feel free to submit them in the “Ask Kelley” section at the bottom pages of my website and they will be answered in future blog posts and/or on social media.

Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

For as long as I can remember I have been the ultimate overachiever.  Starting in elementary school, it was like a badge of honor for me to study longer and harder than any of my classmates. Although my workaholic tendencies produced a lot of achievements and success, they also came with a cost.  I can’t tell you the number of invitations I turned down, the time hanging out with friends I missed out on, and the added pressure I imposed on myself.

Have you ever wondered about what your driving force is?

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from manifesting and actually experiencing that which you say you want?

Have you ever wondered about what keeps you from letting go, even when you know something or someone no longer serves your highest vision for your life?

What’s Really Controlling Your Life?

The answer is your unclaimed shadows! Shadows are the negative thoughts, fears, and beliefs that live in our unconscious and determine how much success, joy, fun, and love we allow ourselves to experience, or conversely,  the silent suffering, the lack, and disappointment we may endure. Our shadows are responsible for the internal dialogue that plays as a tape in our head, constantly repeating the same story of dread and trepidation, which keeps us playing safe, feeling small and stuck where we are.

Our shadows trick us into believing that who we are is unacceptable, unlovable, not good enough, or in some form just not okay! They convince us that to feel safe we must create facades, wear masks, and deny our most authentic self. Ultimately, it is our shadows that give birth to our fear and keep us paralyzed, striving for more, or trying to fit in and get it right. They control our actions, non-actions, and basically eliminate our ability to make high level choices.

When we are being run by our shadows, we lose our freedom to choose. We feel as if our only choice is to try to hide it, deny it, or achieve over it. We lose our ability to make choices that truly serve us because the only choices we can make are those that are aligned with the shadows that are driving us. For example, think about:

The person who believes that they don’t matter. They become the ultimate people-pleaser, exhausting themselves doing everything for everyone else. Yet, when it comes to taking care of themselves, they are at the bottom of their to-do list.  Why? Because the only choices they can make are ones that they think will make them matter to others.

The person yearning for love and connection but who fears being hurt. They leave before they are left and push away love, whether they want to or not, so as not to feel the pain of rejection.

All the overachievers just like me.Somewhere under our façade of perfectionism, there is a little girl or boy who fears not getting it right!

Claim Your Shadow and Your Life

Since your present is a result of the choices you made yesterday and your future will be determined by the choices you make today…if you want to experience a different reality, you must wake up to really see what is controlling your life.  You don't have to allow your shadow to be in control of your life. Instead, you can choose to shine the light of awareness on the shadows that are unconsciously driving your choices.  It is when you bring the unconscious conscious that, all of a sudden, a whole new array of choices will become available to you. 

I am happy to report that once I realized that it was my unclaimed shadows of not believing I was good enough or worthy enough to have abundance that was driving my need to always work and prove myself, I was able to find compassion for the little girl who just wanted to be special.  Since that time, work has become a priority but not the priority.  I have let go of always multi-tasking and have learned to put my computer away so I can be present for the people I love and the experiences I want to enjoy.

Now it’s your turn.

By owning your shadows, you will feel worthy of claiming the highest vision for your life and you will be free and able to make healthy, high-level choices that will move you in the direction of your dreams! Bottom line, “the gold is in the dark!” and shadow work empowers you to bring light to the dark so you can find and enjoy the gold!

The following exercise is something that you can practice weekly to help you become aware of your shadows as a way of overcoming and claiming them.

Transformational Action Steps

 1) Make a list of two goals that you are committed to reaching.

2) Ask yourself, "Are the choices I made this week moving me in the direction of these goals?"

3) If not, identify the part of you that has been driving your decisions. Who is driving? Who is making the choices? Is it your wounded self? Is it the part of you that worries what your mother will think? Is it the part of you that wants to ensure your peers like you and approve of you? How long have they been in the driver's seat? And how much longer will you give them the wheel?

4) Set a strong boundary with this part of you by letting them know that you are now taking control, that you are going to protect yourself, ensuring your future, and that they can no longer drive. In other words, revoke their driver's license. How? Write it down. Create a positive statement and put it up where you can see it daily.

If you want to learn more about claiming your shadow, book a one-on-one session and to learn how to live a life of integrity, purchase a copy of The Integrity Advantage today!

STOP…Looking for Permission!

STOP…Looking for Permission!

Day after day I work with people who, when facing some issue, question, change, or decision, feel overcome by uncertainty and are paralyzed by the possibility of “making a mistake.” Despite having an inkling of how they want to handle the situation at hand, they don’t trust it.  Instead of going with their gut and following their inner impulse, they look for confirmation from others and spend time and/or money:

  • seeking counsel from therapists and coaches,

  • polling friends and sometimes even strangers to see what they should do, and

  • having sessions with astrologers, psychics, and intuitives to find out what is in the stars or what their chart says.

Basically, they are looking for permission to follow their truth!

Now, it is normal to feel scared or insecure when faced with living our truth.We worry about how our truth will not only affect ourselves but others as well.Not wanting to be seen as selfish, mean, unreliable, or narcissistic, we question whether we have the right to pursue our passion, heed the messages of our heart, or break out of the box of what has been.As a result, we:

  • stay in marriages for the “sake of the children,” jobs for the “stability,” and friendships for the sake of the past, and

  • fail to set boundaries and walk away from toxic situations that just don’t work for us anymore.

Bottom line, we put the needs and desires of others in front of our own and we question whether we have the right to change or challenge the status quo.

Feeling compromised and sometimes even imprisoned by the reality we have created, we look to others to validate our desires.

But here’s the thing….you don’t need permission to live an authentic life. 
It is your birthright!  You just need to claim it!

To claim this birthright and stop looking to others for permission, you need to retrain your brain. And you can do so by consistently reminding yourself of the following three tidbits.

#1. All of your answers are inside of you! 

Although most of us have been trained to look to the outside world for approval, validation, and direction, it’s time to take a U-turn back yourself.  You are the greatest expert on you and the first place you should be looking for your answers is inside of you.

#2. Self-trust is a muscle – it gets stronger with use! 

We all have that inner voice - some call it gut instinct, others call it intuition. Although some of us feel connected to our inner voice, many do not.  We don’t trust that it is within us or that it will guide us effectively. Well, it’s hard to trust something we don’t know.  We need to take time to get to know and trust our inner voice and the wisdom it has.  Self-trust is a muscle.  It needs strengthening.  Learning to go within, ask ourselves the questions, and have the patience to listen is a practice.  Our inner voice does recognize what is best for us and is willing to speak to us if we are willing to listen.  Like all practices, it gets stronger with use.

#3. You have the right to take back your life! 

Like I said, most people have a hard time putting themselves first.Although, we know in our minds that we “deserve to live a great life,” many of us struggle to feel deserving and worthy of truly being, doing, and having all that we can be, do and have.We play small so others don’t feel threatened and we compromise ourselves and our truth to fit in or “make life easier.”We endure the status quo and tell ourselves, “When it gets really bad, then I will do something about it.” Well here’s the thing…you have the right to take back your life!

There are no medals for learning to accept the unacceptable.

And the fact is that when we accept the unacceptable, all we do is empower the bad behavior of others and whittle away at our own self-esteem.  Situations don’t need to get to the point of abusive, toxic or unacceptable for you to change them. 

If a situation no longer works for you, you have the right to rethink it…no permission needed.

So, this week I encourage you to take back your power and affirm that you don’t need others to tell you that something is “Right.”  All you need is to start going inside and feeling and trusting what feels right to you.

Transformational Action Steps

I encourage you to start looking at how you give away your power by looking to others for permission. 

(1) Start noticing who you look to for permission.  You don’t need to make it bad or wrong to ask others for advice or guidance but just be aware if you are bypassing connecting with yourself and automatically going to others for your answer.

(2) Take on developing a close and trusting relationship with your inner voice. When faced with a situation or issue, take time to go inside and seek your answers, insight, and truth.When you receive your answer consciously affirm that all of your answers are inside of you and breathe into the feeling of owning that you are the greatest expert on you.


Are you interested in creating your dream life now?

Sign up to receive Kelley's “3 Must-Do's to Ignite Your Fierce Confidence.” Ready, set, go!


Self-Love For Valentine's Day!

Self-Love For Valentine's Day!

Happy almost Valentine’s Day! A day all about love and relationships which most of us tend to have a love-hate relationship with.

Whether we are in a relationship or not or have decided we don’t care about this day devoted to love, somewhere inside of most of us is some residue or very palpable pain from Valentine’s Days past when we were either:

  • not in a relationship and feeling like a loser,

  • mending a broken heart and pining over lost love,

  • feeling alone in a loveless relationship,

  • overcome with anxiety and doubt, questioning our relationship status or wondering if and how our partner would show up and acknowledge this special day.

Bottom line, we have let a day all about love strip us of any feelings of love for or about ourselves!

So on this Valentine's Day, whether "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" or "All You Need Is Love," may I suggest that if you truly "Want to Know What Love Is," then focus on being your own Valentine and giving yourself "The Greatest Love of All" -- self- love!

Now, the whole concept of self-love can be tricky.  On a daily basis, between work, family, and all of the items on our to-do list, most of us don’t take time to think about self-love.  When asked about their feelings of self-love or what they do to foster it, often people respond with a blank stare.  So in honor of Valentine’s Day and enjoying “Everlasting Love,” here are 3 tips to help you cultivate more self-love!

Tip #1: Foster Your Uniqueness

Most of us spend years or even a lifetime looking for love outside of ourselves. Our feelings of self-love are determined by our outer accomplishments, level of success, or ability to make others love and affirm us. Although all of the achievements and expressions of affection do feel good, they are fleeting. Whenever we are looking to others or anything in the external world to validate us or fill us up, then we truly are "looking for love in all the wrong places!"

When it comes to self-love, if you never want to go without, then you must go within.
You must take on valuing yourself. How? By consciously fostering your own uniqueness. Start taking stock of your fabulousness! “What do you love about you?” “What makes you special?”  “Why would someone else love to have you in their life?”

For self-love to grow, it must be consciously cultivated and it starts by proactively looking for all that we are and valuing our uniqueness.

Tip #2: Change Your Thoughts

We have all heard it…“Our thoughts shape our reality.” However, our thoughts are primarily automatic and unconscious.  We don’t even realize we are thinking what we are thinking. Did you know that we all have about 50,000 negative thoughts per day and that 95 percent of these negative thoughts are repeated daily?  That means: 

We listen to the same narrative of 47,500 of negative thoughts day after day! 

And who do you think our negative thoughts are mostly about?  Ourselves!

Let’s face it. The soundtrack that loops around our brain is far from a “Silly Little Love Song.”  Instead it is this choir of condemnation and criticism which questions “What is wrong with you?” and sings a refrain of “You are not good enough!”

For self-love to grow we need to change the song in our head.  We need to catch the thoughts that disempower us and make us feel bad and learn to replace them with ones that feel nurturing, supportive, and empowering.

For self-love to grow, we need to start treating and talking to ourselves like someone we love!

Tip #3: Take On Filling Your Own Cup

Self-love is not a spectator sport.  It’s an active practice that takes conscious thought, consistent action, and ongoing attention.  There is no one-size-fits-all definition.  To live a life of self-love, you need to continuously define what that looks and feels like for you.  You must define:

  • What are the thoughts, actions, habits, situations, and people that feel good to and for me?

  • What are those that don’t?

Then you need to take on filling your cup with the thoughts, actions, things, and people that make your mind, body, and soul sing.  And you must be diligent, since…

If it doesn’t feel like love, it is not!

And anything that does not feel like love should not be put in your cup!

As Valentine's Day quickly approaches, remember that the greatest gift you can give yourself and others is to love yourself completely. When you love yourself completely, not only can you love others more but, more importantly, you teach others how to love themselves more…And to me, that's even better than chocolate!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Start observing your internal dialogue, your thoughts, and your actions. Become aware about how self- loving they are or are not. How are they impacting your feelings of self-love?

(2) When you catch yourself doing or thinking something that is not self-loving, close your eyes for just a moment and, with a slow, nourishing breath, turn your attention back inside. Ask yourself, "What can I do in this moment to bring more self-love into my life?" Maybe it's going for a walk or making a list of ten reasons why you are utterly and completely fabulous. Perhaps it's calling one of your favorite people in the world. (This is also a great ritual to do at the beginning of each day. Ask yourself what you can do today to bring more self-love into your life.) Whatever it is, take that action!

(3) Celebrate yourself on Valentine's Day! Write yourself a love letter, cook yourself a fabulous meal, buy yourself some sexy lingerie, take a bubble bath…Do something to spoil yourself and make yourself feel totally and completely loved and lit up!

Breaking Out Of The Cage Of Fear

Breaking Out Of The Cage Of Fear

On a daily basis I encounter people who are frozen in fear.

  • They want to date but fear getting hurt. 

  • They long to quit their day job to pursue their passion but fear failure. 

  • They yearn for connection but fear rejection.

  • They want to speak and live their truth, try something different, ask for a raise at work, take the next step in their relationship, go to a movie by themselves, or try a new exercise class but their fear of being embarrassed, what other people might think, judgment, or just plain not being good enough keeps them clinging to their comfort zone, unable to embrace or navigate change.

No matter the situation or area of their life,
they remain captive under a dark cloud of always desiring and never doing.


Their fear is insidious.  It poisons their joy and becomes the conscious or often unconscious catalyst for self-sabotage and pushing away any potential for success, happiness, or whatever it is that they truly crave.  Exhausted by living in and lugging around so much fear, they soon become disgusted with themselves when they realize the impact and cost of their fear on themselves and everyone around them – since not only does our fear affect us but it infects all of our relationships.

Wanting to live in their greatness, they ache to break out of their cage of fear and long to know “How?”

Since we all love a “how to” guide, I decided to share some of the tips I and others have found helpful.

1. Identify your fear and understand its origin.  

Such an incredibly uncomfortable feeling, most of us try to separate or distance ourselves from our fears.  Masters at denial, numbing out, and staying busy, we have turned avoidance into an art form.  But we can’t heal that which we refuse to look at.  So instead of continue to run away from our fear, we need to lean into it and find out what our fear is really about and where it comes from.  Personally, I like to give my fear a voice and talk to it.  I ask it: “What is going on?”  “What is this feeling of being frozen, worried, or insecure really about?” 

Viewing my voice of fear as one of my greatest teachers, I continue to invite it to go deeper and show me more. 

Chances are you can trace the origins of your fear back to a childhood event – one that you might not even realize had an impact or left an imprint.  I can’t tell you the number of times someone realizes that:

  • their fear of being alone or that they will have to do it on their own comes from having been left by their parents at some point in their youth,

  • their fear of lack comes from their father losing his job or the stories of loss they heard from their parents or grandparents, or

  • their fear of never being enough was birthed out of some embarrassing moment that occurred when they were in grade school.

Identifying and looking into our fear, we get to see it from a new vantage point.  Understanding where it comes from releases us from its grip. 

2.
Bust your fear.

Most of us see our fears as facts.  We convince ourselves:

  • “If I get a divorce…I will be alone for the rest of my life, my kids will be screwed up, and I will never find love again.”

  • “If I say, “No” or set a boundary…people won’t like me, they will think I am mean, I won’t be included.”

  • “If I allow myself to love…I will be hurt.”

To get to the other side of your fears, you need to bust through them.  You need to separate the facts of the situation from the story you wrap around it.  It’s not the facts but the sad stories, negative meanings, and limiting interpretations that we wrap around the facts that keep us frozen in fear.  And here’s the thing. All the stories, meanings, and interpretations are all made up…they are False Evidence Appearing Real.  So if you want to create a new ending, you need to learn to bust your fears, separate facts from the fiction, and focus on the facts. 

3.  Walk yourself through your greatest fears.

Most of us don’t realize how strong and resilient we actually are. We also don’t realize or are quick to forget that on a day-to-day basis, we encounter situations that we never thought we could handle and have made it through.  We have:

  • had our hearts broken,

  • lost loved ones,

  • “failed” at new ventures,

  • been embarrassed or judged publicly,

and not only have we survived but, in some instances, we are better than we were before. 

However, fear is not rational and when we are catapulted into that tidal wave of fear it’s easy to lose our way.  That is why it is important to get off the path of pessimism and consciously walk yourself through your greatest fears.  Walking yourself through your greatest fears is a process identifying your fear, then playing out the possibility that it actually happened, and asking yourself, “So, then what would I do?” 

For example, in my last blog post, I shared I am getting married in April.  A few weeks ago, I moved out of my apartment and into my fiancé’s house.  Packing all my belongings, thinking about leaving my nest, and having to find all new “go-to” people and places.  I kept asking myself, “What are you doing?” “Why are you doing this?”  “What if it doesn’t work out?”  Since my fears were popping up big time, I literally sat down and walked myself through my fear. What will I do if…my relationship doesn’t work out or if I don’t like living where he lives? I kept walking down the road of “Then what will I do?” and playing out the “worst possible” scenarios. By the end, I got to where I get to every time I do this exercise.  The same two things are always apparent:

1.    I know I will be fine!

2.    I know whatever is happening, it is because the Universe has other plans for me!

Living with the knowing that if I am brought to it, I will be brought through it dissolves my fears and enables me to embrace change.

4. Make the choice to have your greatness be bigger than your fear.

Ultimately our fears are our fears.  If we could get rid of them we would.  Some fears tend to dissipate with time and consciousness. Others might not.  If we could take a magic pill or exorcise them from our body, we would.  But just because they are there does not mean they have to be in the driver’s seat!  We can choose to live outside of our fears.  Very simply, our lives are a reflection of our choices.  Realizing that in every moment we have the ability to be guided by faith over fear, to trust over trepidation and decisiveness over doubt, and to makes choices guided by our grandest desires instead of our tendency to play small is our ticket to freedom.  Chances are, there are some fears that you might not be able to “get rid of” but you do have the power to make the choices to not let them control and define your life.

So this week, whether it has to do with going to a new exercise class, speaking up at a meeting, asking someone for coffee, or moving to a new city, I invite you join me in breaking out of your cage of fear and allowing your desire for greatness to be bigger than your fear!

Transformational Action Steps

When you are feeling frozen by fear, try:

1. Identifying your fear and understanding its origin. 

2. Busting your fear.

3. Walking yourself through your greatest fears.

4. Making the choice to have your greatness be bigger than your fear.

What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

I hope you are feeling energized by the possibilities of 2019!  As you may or may not know, I am getting married in 2019! It seems hard to wrap my head around, but after 15 years of being single, I will be “walking down the aisle.”  Planning a wedding as a 58-year-old bride has been interesting, especially when I compare it to the experience I had as a 28-year-old one:

  • Salespeople and vendors tend to do a double-take when they realize that it is me and not one of my 20-something year old daughters who is the bride. 

  • Instead of feeling compelled to follow protocol or formalities, you quickly realize that you are in a situation where “no rules apply.”


And the biggest and most profound difference is that this time the most important aspect of the whole event is the walk down the aisle and the person and life I am walking toward. And here’s what I truly find so fascinating. Even though I thought I was I pretty aware person, this imagery of walking down the aisle has provided a huge breakthrough in terms of all aspects of my life and being truly cognizant and conscious about what and whom I am walking toward.

Yes, I, like you, have had lots of various types of relationships in my life.  We all have not only love relationships but also friendships, co-workers, and family members in our lives. Yet, when you think about it:

  • How many of these relationships have you consciously chosen and how many were formed as a result of some situation, mutual acquaintance, by circumstance, or you just kind of inherited them?

  • How many of these relationships flourished because they were healthy and fueled your flame as opposed to being kept alive out of habit because it was expected, to honor the past, or just because?


Just like many of us tend to live our life on automatic pilot, following our routines and remaining in our comfort zones, we tend to do the same in relationships.  We are born into families, assigned a co-worker, placed into committees and play groups with parents of our children’s friends, or consistently attend brunches and birthday parties seated next to the friends of our friends who are then expected to become our friends.  Wanting to be included, to belong, and be “a part of,” we go along for the ride and become creatures of habit instead of the conscious co-creators of our relationships.

Creatures of habit stay in a job, situation, or relationship because it is familiar.  They continue to push the boulder up the hill because they are the strong ones.  They accept unacceptable behavior because they are the patient or nice ones.  They put others in front of themselves because they do not want to be the selfish ones.  Although being a creature of habit is not bad or good, and often creatures of habit are quite high-functioning, it does come with a cost.  Creatures of habit are so busy doing what they have always done that they become oblivious to what they are doing, their motivation, whether their actions serve their highest purpose, and, when it comes to relationships, whether they fuel their flame and are truly healthy.

When it comes to relationships, many people write and talk about the ones you need to let go of.  Although I agree that in order to make space for the new, you must let go of that which no longer works or serves your highest and that letting go of someone is often the most loving thing you can do for yourself, letting go is only half of the equation. If you want to truly want to make 2019 memorable, then I encourage you to commit to being the conscious co-creator of your life – to actively look not only at who and what you need to let go of but also who and what you want to consciously want to walk toward. Then fill your life with that!  

It is when we shift the level of consciousness that
we bring to each moment of our lives that our lives will shift.

 

Without question, my intended walk down the aisle has become the metaphor for how I want to live my life.  If you too want to move from being the proverbial “Runaway Bride” – avoiding, denying, or moving through life on automatic pilot - to making each step of your life “A Walk To Remember,” then I invite you to join me in truly stepping into being the conscious co- creator of your life and taking these Transformational Actions Steps. 

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Picture yourself walking down the aisle of life.

(2) Ask yourself, “What or whom do I want to walk toward?”

(3) When you picture yourself walking toward a person or situation, become mindful.  If you feel bumps in the road or trepidation of any sort, look inside to see if that is just your fearful or insecure self needing reassurance or if it is your gut and intuition trying to get your attention.

(4) Become present to how you feel when you are around certain people or engaged in certain activities.  If they or it do not feed your soul, they may not be for you and it may be time to shift directions.

A New Year's Ritual

A New Year's Ritual

Happy New Year!

This is a tremendously powerful time of year -- a time when the universe is moving all of us in an exciting and positive direction, a time when everyone, whether they know it or not, is looking to complete the past and move into a new future. 2019 offers all of us a new beginning! 

In the spirit of Debbie Ford's book Your Holiness which was discovered after her death and published in 2018, we're excited to share with you Debbie's 2007 New Year's Ritual to support you in opening up to a new future. This ritual is a great opportunity to powerfully end this year, igniting new possibilities in your inner and outer worlds, so we invite you to set aside some time to read her message and do the exercise she outlines. 

We at The Ford Institute are wishing you a healthy, happy, inspired new year. 


A New Year's Ritual 
by Debbie Ford

Welcome to the holy place that lives inside of you. Actually it does not just live inside of you but it is you. You exist in every living thing. You exist in the beauty of a cloudless blue sky and in the chill storm of a cold winter night. You exist in the beginning and in the end, in the openness of a warm hug and in the frozen cold stare of a wounded hateful heart. You are all that is and all that was. You are the brightest star on this planet and the hidden sun on a cloudy day. 

So now imagine this is the only real truth that will ever bring you the peace, joy and abundance you so desire. But in order to experience this truth you must be willing to make peace with all that you are at war with. You must make peace with all the thoughts, beliefs and righteous judgments that you have rejected out of shame, fear or ignorance. 

What can you do to love all that you are? What can you do to forgive your broken heart and to accept your beauty and grace? If this is all that is needed to live a fulfilled and impassioned life, how can you be present this year to the totality of both your humanity and your divinity, your illusionary self and your eternal essence? When we step away from trying to be something or someone in particular in an attempt to make ourselves feel better about the self that we have identified with, we can see the vastness of our magnificent makeup. 

You were birthed as the greatest expression of G_d that there is. Have you hidden that expression? Have you covered it with lipstick, pain or false bravado? Are you living as the giant that you are or a small speck of your fabricated self? 

The Ritual 

Part One: Your False Self 

Write out the story of your false self, your small self, your persona, whether you love it or disapprove of it. 

Write out all the ways that you have kept that false self in place:

  • the stories you tell yourself inside of your mind

  • the people you cling to that remind you of your smallness

  • your ego's grudges and resentments

  • your regrets

  • everything else you want to let go of for the year ahead

Then, fold it up with the love and care you would give to a love note and pray with it next to your heart for 5 to 10 minutes. Chant the words, "I love, to love, thy love" over and over again and until your story and all that is in it is filled with the love that you are. 

Next, take out your journal and write out the life lesson that you have needed to learn from your human story and your false persona. Write out, from the divine perspective, why you needed to create this false self, this small version of yourself, and why it is fruitless. Write out 10 reasons why this version of yourself must be sacrificed in order for your holy existence to emerge. 

After you have done this, again return to the quiet, peaceful place inside where you are the grandest, greatest version of yourself and spend 5 minutes chanting the words, "I will, to will, thy will" over and over again. 

When you are done, tear up, or safely burn your story of the self that you've been so that you may be rebirthed as the you that exists inside of the greatest heart there is...the collective, global heart. 

Part Two: Your Holy Self 

Now, write out the story of your holy self. Write each word like you are writing one of the most important documents in the world.

  • Write out the two feelings that you will leave everyone you interact with this year. Will you leave them feeling admired, respected, loved, complete or holy?

  • Write out the values of the person who would leave everyone they meet with the feelings that you have chosen. What two values are fundamental to this person? 

  • Write out the behaviors of this person, the way they look, they way they walk, their level of honesty, their truth, their mannerisms.

Now take the story of your Holy Self and place it near your heart. Close your eyes and ask that all the powers that guide you to come to you, to support you in opening up to your greater self, your Holy Self, and then chant these holy words from the Moses Code. "I am that I am. I am all there is." 

Chant "I am that I am. I am all there is." into the night until it is encoded in every cell of your being. 

Then allow yourself to find a sacred place for the story of your holy self, your new holy scripture. 

Part Three: How Will You Live This Year? 

How will you live this year? Reflect on this question -- the only real question that matters at the end of the day. It won't matter to your eternal heart what you have gotten, how you look or how much money you have in the bank. Here is what will matter inside the collective heart:

  • Are you healthy?

  • Are you living in accordance with the divine integrity that you are? 

  • Are you present to the whole of who you are? 

  • Are you beating as one or are you off beating to your own drum? If you are operating as a solo act, ask your grandest self (not your fabricated self), "Does this empower the holiest parts of me and leave me filled up? Or does beating to my own drum at the end of the day, when there is nothing to make me feel better, leave me with the emptiness of a lost soul?" What would the honest answer be? 

  • If you were without your lover, your family, your job, your accomplishments or your sweets, would you love who you are?

There is only one path for the soul who longs to belong and be a part of something greater. And that path is the quest to return home to our whole and Holy Self -- to love who we are, how we live, and how we serve. 

Transformational Action Steps 

To seal in the power of this ritual, take the following transformational action steps:

  • Spend an hour this week carefully writing a dossier on the person who has the ability to live not in the madness of the world but as a divine observer of the grander scheme of life. Who will you have to be to be part of a global solution rather than the human problem? 

  • Close your eyes each night chanting "I am that I am" and wake up each morning chanting "I am, that I am." When you are in the shower chant, "I am that I am." 

  • Make a new commitment: "I will give my gift like I am the only person left on the planet because I am that I am. I am all there is."

I am wishing you a year filled with the knowing that you are the greatest gift there is. Yes, your piece of the puzzle, no matter how large of small, is imperative for the wellness of the greater whole. From my individual heart, the hearts of my staff, and from The Ford Institute, we love and support you in being the greatest expression of yourself this year. 

May your precious soul be watched over and protected each and every day, of this new year. May you know yourself outside of yourself and may you see, even if just for an instant each day, how holy, divine and imperative you are.

A Holiday Blessing

A Holiday Blessing

As we move toward the end of a remarkable year, you are in our thoughts and hearts. In the midst of the busyness of the holiday season, we want to express our profound gratitude for you.

To best express our appreciation, we offer you the blessing that Debbie Ford wrote for her newsletter subscribers in December of 2009. She began the blessing by writing, "You deserve an unimaginable future, one that exceeds your expectations and your deepest desires. You can have it. It is your birthright through your divine connection." We couldn't agree more.

From me and the staff of The Ford Institute, on behalf of all of our Integrative Coaches, and our global community at large, we are sending you enormous amounts of love and wishes for the happiest, healthiest holiday season ever.

A BLESSING FOR YOUR FUTURE
by Debbie Ford

Divine Spirit
thank you for giving me the capacity for wholeness

Thank you for this very precious moment

A moment where I am present
to all the goodness that exists
inside and outside of me

A moment that inspires thoughts of a greater future

A future where I can love and be loved
where I can serve and be served

A future where I humbly and gracefully
contribute my soul's gifts to the world

A future that is filled with abundance and miracles

Today I open my arms to the loving presence
that will awaken me to my greatness
and fill my future with surprises

I surrender my life and will
to the greatest power in the universe

Today I accept my worth and my worthiness

And so it is 

Families Are Messy!

Families Are Messy!

I hope your holiday season has gotten off to a beautiful start.  For me, the holidays are my favorite time of year.  I love the lights, traditions, celebrating with family and friends, and, of course, all the new Hallmark Christmas movies!  Although we all know how the movies will end, there is something so heart-warming about being invited into these charming and magically decorated small towns where families sit around the kitchen table decorating Christmas cookies, helping their one unwed daughter who has come home from the big city mend her past heartbreak, so she can open up to finding love with her old flame, who just happens to be the boy next door.

Always being a person who had a desire for my life to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, there is a part of me that has always craved Hallmark’s picture of family.  Even after I got divorced, I still had an idyllic picture of what I wanted my future family to look like. I imagined myself and my partner sitting connected on the couch as our blended families excitedly rushed in and out, sharing about their day and easily interacting with us and each other. 

Although I have created many magical moments with my family and hope to create many more with my fiancé and his family, the truth is that we have our fair share of family tensions and strained relationships. I, like so many of the people I work with, have stories about:

  • Siblings that no longer speak to each other,

  • Adult children who are estranged from their parents, 

  • Ex-spouses who won’t allow themselves to be in the same room, and

  • Blended families who can’t stand each other.

No question, most of us have that fairy-tale desire to have or have had a “picture perfect” family. And when our reality falls short of the fantasy:

  • it’s human to feel shame or downright embarrassed about our set of circumstances, and

  • it’s natural to think that our family is somehow more screwed up than the next.

As a result, we want to hide or deny our family dysfunction.  We think our resistance to what is will protect us. Yet, the opposite is actually true!

It is our denial that keeps us stuck and it is our attachment to how we think things should be that keeps us from
seeing, accepting, and even enjoying what is.

The fact is….Families are messy!

They can trigger us, hurt us to the core, ignite feelings of deep betrayal, and bring out the absolute worst version of ourselves quicker than anyone else. They serve as the catalyst to rip off our band-aids and expose the wounds and hurts that still need to be healed.

Yet, our family relationships, especially those that frustrate and anger us the most, are truly our greatest teachers.  As I wrote in The Integrity Advantage,

“The people in our life are there to act as reflections - to illuminate the shadows
we need to own, the wounds we need to heal, and the outdated beliefs
we need to reveal and shift so we can be our fullest most loving selves.”

Yet, we cannot receive the gifts of these teachers if we are comparing them to the families in the Hallmark movies or even the families next door who we assume are “normal.”

It is these comparisons and our attachments to some idyllic picture of what our family should look like that is the source of our most profound pain.  They distract us from receiving the lessons to be leaned since we are so busy blaming that we miss the message.

Ultimately, you may never be able to heal the rifts in your family. Chances are your family may never be the one you hoped for.  However, if you can find the perfection in messy, let go of your expectations, and become present to what you are actually experiencing, a new family dynamic can emerge as well as a legacy that will touch and empower all future generations.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Become present to the expectations you have in terms of your family.  How do you think the should or should not be?  What is the picture of family you are attached to?

(2) Think about how these expectations and attachments actually keep you from enjoying or learning from what is.

(3) Start unwrapping the gifts of your family exactly as it is.  What have you learned or how have you grown as a result of your family dynamic?

(4) Learn to love messy.  Go do something messy and see how it feels.  

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

There is no doubt about it. December is the time of year that is synonymous with giving. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, charitable organizations, or the people who make our lives better, we all have our lists and are checking them twice! Most of us love to give – and when we do so, we feel good about ourselves, abundant, and alive.

But what about receiving? Most people feel very uncomfortable about receiving! Whether it is a lavish gift, an act of kindness, generosity from a friend, or even a compliment, we have a difficult time receiving. For many, our awkwardness around receiving started at an early age. We were brought up hearing messages like, "Tis better to give than to receive" or "Give more than you get." We decided consciously or unconsciously that people who receive are greedy, selfish, weak, or needy – and since we didn't want to be any of those things, we made receiving wrong. When I first looked at my inability to receive, I realized that I had a belief that if I received something from someone, then I would owe them something in return. For me, being beholden to anyone was a loss of control and a very scary place, so receiving became taboo.

When we make receiving wrong, we not only limit what we don't want but also that which our heart truly longs for. When we make receiving wrong, we diminish the amount of love, abundance, happiness, and magic we allow into our lives! When we make receiving wrong, we erect an energetic barrier around us that keeps us from attracting all that we do desire as well as that which we do not. When we make receiving wrong, we knowingly or unknowingly make a declaration to the Universe, others, and ourselves that we do not feel worthy and deserving enough to open ourselves up to the unimaginable gifts that the Universe has to offer.

I always love to hear stories about people who knew each other for years and one day, in an instant, their relationship turns into love. Or the person who is paralyzed by a problem for months and then all of a sudden has a flash of genius and finds the solution. What has changed? Somehow, they opened themselves up to receive something that was previously unavailable to them.

Years ago, when I was determined to shift my relationship with receiving, I decided to make December my month of saying “Yes!”I had just ended a relationship and I was afraid that I would be lonely and depressed during the holidays. So,

  • First, I texted my friends and told them to include me in whatever they did. 

  • Second, I made a promise to myself that no matter what the invitation, I would say “Yes!” (I would not let my usual excuses of “not feeling like it” or “it may feel awkward” lead the way.)

In making December my month of saying “Yes!” I learned,

  1. To let the Universe lead.

  2. To trust that the Universe is a benevolent partner and friend and has so many amazing futures lined up for me, if I can only get out of the way and go with the flow instead of trying to control its every move.

  3. In every moment a multitude of invitations exist, all dancing right in front of us, ready to be received, promising to shower us new possibilities.

As Debbie Ford writes in Spiritual Divorce,

"Miracles can show up in our lives when we are open to receiving them!"

So, if you are ready to open up to the magic and opportunities dancing around you and to truly make this upcoming month “a December to remember,” then I invite you to join me in what is now my yearly tradition of making December my month of saying “Yes!”

Think about what will be possible in the new year if you complete this year making that declaration that you feel worthy of receiving and are open to accepting the magic of the moment and promise of the present!

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Journal about your beliefs about receiving. What were the messages you received when you were young about people who receive or being a giver vs. a receiver?

  2. Become aware of how you feel about receiving. For example: If you are given a gift this holiday season, notice how it automatically makes you feel. What emotions come up for you?

  3. Be fascinated by your actions around receiving. If you are given a compliment, do you ignore it, deflect it, or breathe it in? If someone offers to do something for you, how do you respond?

  4. Say “Yes!”  Let the Universe lead and see what happens.

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

Most of us have blind spots -- situations in our life that we can’t see clearly or, consciously or unconsciously, choose to avoid.  Whether we realize it or not, on some level, we even fight to keep our avoidance alive.  We justify our excuses and buy into our rationalizations of why we should or should not do something.

On a daily basis I hear stories from people who, despite what they say they truly want in life, remain in the cage of their comfort zone.  They validate their justifications by telling themselves that they should:  

  • Not get into a relationship because they might lose themselves it,

  • Avoid looking at their bank balance because it might impact their feelings of security,

  • Or if they are like me, they convince themselves that they should not get on the scale because it may trigger their body and eating issues from the past.

That’s right. For the past ten or so years, I have not gotten on the scale.  Having always struggled with body issues, emotional eating, and that cycle of bingeing, starving, over-exercising, and the feelings of self-loathing that accompanied it, I decided that it was unhealthy for me to get on the scale.  For me, my narrative of the number on the scale was never a nice one.  It could make or break my day.  It determined how much self-love, acceptance, and freedom I would enjoy or it quickly became the excuse for my self-sabotage as well as the reason why I needed to play small, hide, and not go for what I truly wanted in life. 

After decades of giving my power away to a number on the scale, I decided that it would be healthier for me not to get on it.  My scale at home was used only to weigh suitcases, and when I went to the doctor’s office, I got on the scale backwards and warned them never to show me my chart.

Although I am a huge fan of “structures for success” and believe that not getting on the scale for over a decade gave me the space to develop a new relationship with my body, my emotions, and food, as circumstances would have it, I am now being led to weigh in on these issues at a deeper level.

Recently, I have developed some auto-immune issues.  As a result, I have decided to take on my health.  As part of this process, I signed up for a program where, as luck would have it, it is mandatory to get on the scale!  Yikes! What if…

  • Getting on the scale, brings up the narrative of negatives and those feelings of self-judgment and hatred?

  • The number is so horrific that it sends me right to the refrigerator?

  • “All this work I have done on myself” was not the effective and the number on the scale still has the power to make or break my day?

Although I can admit to being a bit apprehensive, I am actually excited about getting on the scale.  It is time to see if “all of this work I have done” on these issues has been effective or if there are deeper levels of healing and growth I need to engage in.

Just like the person who avoids getting in a relationship out of fear of losing themselves in it or the person who procrastinates looking at their bank statement out of fear that it will impact their safety issues, just because we can soundly convince ourselves that not dipping our toe into certain situations is in our highest, often it is that conversation that is laced with fear and keeps us stuck.

Learning to avoid situations does not mean you have healed them!

Our boundaries can become our borders and they often imprison us in stories from our past and keep us from being aware and working out the issues that still need our attention.

As the saying goes, “The only way out is through!” Although we think choosing harmony over truth or remaining in the cage of our comfort zone will bring us peace, often it is the glue that keeps our dis-ease firmly in place.

If a wound is going to heal, if change is going to happen, then the bandage you have worn for years that is “holding things together” needs to be ripped off! That happens not by avoidance but with total honesty and action.  It is time to operate in reality rather than continue to live in the trance of denial.

So this week I invite you to join me in weighing in on the truth.  What in your life do you need to weigh in on? In what pond or ponds is it time for you to dip your toe?

The “worst” that can happen is you find an issue that you need still need to transform and the “best” is that you realize that you have taken back your power, truly healed a wound, freed yourself from a limiting story of the past, and are ready to step into unparalleled possibilities for the future! 

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Think of an area or situation in your life you are avoiding.

(2) Dwell in:

  • All of the excuses, justifications, and negative stories you tell yourself that validate your reasons for avoidance

  • The costs your avoidance

  • The possibilities that would be available to you if you stopped avoiding and committed to honesty and action

(3) Even if it is a baby step, identify one action you can take that will move you out of avoidance and into action.

What Superhero Are You?

What Superhero Are You?

Halloween is this week. Many of us have spent days planning and putting together the perfect costume. I am always fascinated to see the trends in Halloween costumes since I view them as a commentary on what is relevant in today's society. This year, there is no question we will see all sorts of references to what’s making headline news as well as fake news. There will be groups of people representing everything from Disney Princesses to the casts of Black Panther and Suicide Squad.  And even though we will have the classic stand-bys like the naughty nurse, Rocky Balboa, or the Addams Family, there is no question that year after year, the most popular Halloween costumes are superheroes.  From DC to Marvel Comics to the Avengers, the number and wide array of superheroes that are out protecting, patrolling and partying in the streets are always ever-present on Halloween night!

So, what is it about superheroes that make them so popular? Their superpowers, of course...And the desire we all have to possess them, even if it only is for one night!

From the magical sorcerer to the muscle-bound mutants, we shine our light on superheroes, thinking that they have something that we mere mortals do not! However, if you stop to think about it, although some superheroes have powers that exceed the abilities of most humans, the fact is many do not.

Think of Batman and all of the heroes, villains, and vixens from Gotham City. None of them possess abilities beyond those of you and me. Yet we consider them superheroes! We want to be suave, charismatic, and logical like Bruce Wayne (Batman), smart, sexy and intuitive like Batgirl or Poison Ivy, or clever like the Riddler. Even though we all might want to fly like Superman or be able to make magic like Harry Potter, when it comes to these superheroes with superhuman abilities, it is not only their magical powers but also their human qualities that we truly covet. We want to be healers like the Wolverine, super-strong and disciplined like the Hulk, psychic like the team from X-Men, or all-knowing, certain, and heartfelt like Superman.

The fact is that we all have superpowers!

The only difference between us mere mortals and the people we consider to be superheroes is that they own their light and their greatness and we do not. But the light we see in them is within us. It is our birthright!

We all have the power to be anything we want to be. In her book The Best Year of Your Life, Debbie Ford in the chapter entitled, "Stepping Into Greatness," Debbie writes,

"Each of us has the ability to find and nurture new parts of ourselves and become the people we aspire to be….Each of us has a choice to stay stuck in the persona we have created or to let it go and allow a new expression of ourselves to emerge. Human beings (just like superheroes) are capable of this type of metamorphosis. We don't have to stay stuck displaying the same personality traits over the course of our lifetime but are free to transform into the higher expressions of ourselves."

So if you are ready to unleash your inner genie in a bottle, embrace your bionic abilities, "run faster than a speeding bullet," and own that you are a superhero, then I suggest you call forth your x-ray vision and see past your outdated, limited definition of yourself. Adopt your chest-out, hands-on-hips Wonder Woman-Superman pose and bask in the glory of your light. There is no one in any galaxy quite like you -- no one else who can deliver your gifts to the world. So, this Halloween remember the costume is just a façade. Everything you need and have been yearning for is already inside of you! It is your time to fly!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Identify a superhero or super person that you admire. Ask yourself, "What are the qualities that that person has that you most admire or truly wished you possessed?" Make a list of those qualities.

(2) From that list, pick out the two qualities that you most feel drawn to cultivate. Look to see what actions or practice will nurture the two qualities you identified. What can you do on a monthly, weekly, daily basis to let these qualities shine in full force in your life?