Does Your Heart Need Healing?

Does Your Heart Need Healing?

This past weekend I led The Shadow Process Workshop in Miami. In this workshop, as in so many of our other programs and workshops, there were people who were in pain because they:

  • Could not decide on the direction of their marriage

  • Were still struggling with hurt they’ve carried since childhood as a result of a critical, cruel, or absent parent

  • Were still carrying around the betrayal of a love that didn’t last

These people, our amazing workshop participants, were a mirror of the hurt that most of us are carrying around in our hearts as a result of some unhealed or unresolved relationships.

Although many people come into our lives with the best of intentions, whether through birth or happenstance, many relationships feel like they go from sacred to sour.

The fact is that every relationship is a sacred relationship -- especially our closest relationships. Think of what an honor it is to have someone open their heart to you or to be invited into someone’s home or even in this day and age to be included in a private group text. Any time we are being invited to be in relationship with someone it truly is a privilege and a profound responsibility.

Yet at some point during a relationship, many of us stop treating the relationship as if it were sacred and start focusing on the problems instead of the privilege of being in relationship. When our hearts get hurt, we begin to push away, isolate, judge, lash out or act out, or somehow behave in a disrespectful or dishonoring manner. We end up wounding the people that we love the most and hurting the hearts that we had the privilege to hold. Ultimately, we push away the ones we want to hold the closest.

This is just one of the reasons that doing shadow work is so important! When your shadows get triggered, your insecurities, limiting beliefs, and traumas all show up full force. You cannot see straight or act responsibly because your shadows wreak havoc on who you are being. You are being guided by your wounds and not your wisdom. Your fear of being betrayed turns you into the betrayer, your shame of being abandoned turns you into the abandoner, and your feelings of not good enough have you act out in some way that affirms that you are not good enough, worthy enough, or deserving enough to be in such an amazing relationship.

If you want to create sacred relationships with others, it starts with healing your own heart. For others to feel safe around you, you need to feel safe within yourself. To understand the privilege of being in relationship with someone else, you need to grasp what a privilege it is to be in relationship with yourself. To attain this perspective of privilege, you need to do your work and look at your issues, wounds, judgments, agendas, righteous positions, and beliefs. You need to embrace all of who you are -- your light and dark -- to feel deserving enough to have others do the same. This is why we always hear from the students in our coaching training and the people who attend The Shadow Process that their relationships totally shift after the workshop. When you make peace with your shadows you don't have to project them on to others and sabotage your relationships!!!

Everyone who comes into your life is there to heal you. They are there to show you some piece of yourself or the shadows that you need to own so that you can be your fullest and most loving self. No matter what has happened in your past, it is never too late to have that one relationship of your dreams and a community of healthy and supportive people around you.

When you take on healing your heart, you will realize that anyone who crosses your path, especially those who trigger your deepest insecurities or wounds, are truly there as your greatest teachers. Instead of pushing or running away from these people, welcome them in. They can be the catalyst for you to heal your heart and attract the love you’ve been waiting for.

And if you feel you want to go deeper in healing your heart and creating a more sacred and safe relationship with yourself and others, we invite you to join us for a very special program - Healing Your Heart, a 13-week online group coaching program I’ll be teaching live starting next Tuesday.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Become honest with yourself. The first step in healing your heart is to look at how your wounds, insecurities, and hurts are impacting your present relationships.

(2) Spend some time this week reflecting on what would be possible if you weren’t reacting or allowing those wounds, insecurities, and hurts to run your relationships and instead were responding out of love for yourself and others.

(3) To make peace with your past and step into healthier and more fulfilling relationship, join me for Healing Your Heart. It’s time to transform all of your relationships – especially the one with yourself. Click here for details.

Is Your Self-Help Helping?

Is Your Self-Help Helping?

Market studies show that the personal development/self-improvement industry is growing at a rapid pace.  More and more people are spending more and more money to help them lose weight, improve relationships, manage stress, attain success, increase productivity, achieve balance, and find fulfillment.

Yet despite the increase of people investing in self-help tools, techniques, technologies, teachers, and coaches, daily I hear from people who are stuck.  They feel helpless, resigned, and frustrated after months or years of: 

  • being on diet and exercise routines yet not seeing a shift in their weight or inches 
  • trying to adhere to a budget yet never getting out of debt 
  • practicing yoga and meditation daily yet still being consumed/paralyzed by stress and anxiety
  • looking for “the one” yet finding no one special 
  • wanting to start, ramp up, or change careers yet continuing to sit at the same desk or lie on the same couch

Although they tell themselves that they are “getting closer,” “doing better,” or “gaining awareness,” there are no concrete shifts in their lives.  And the fact is, they represent the majority. Studies show that only 8% of people actually reach their goals.

So, the question has to be asked…What is going on? 

Is all of this self-help helping?

Is “being on the path” actually leading to anywhere new?

Let’s face it. Personal development and self-improvement are somewhat esoteric concepts. Although I understand that it is often “about the journey and not the destination,” people on a spiritual path can often get so caught up in thinking “I’ve done so much work on myself” that they try to ignore that feeling of dis-ease inside them.  They sign up for the next course or buy yet another book without stopping to question if the path they are on is actually leading to anything new or different. 

Although I am a big proponent of self-reflection, self-realization, and spiritual growth, you want to always take time and see if what you are doing is effective. 

When it comes to self-help, the best way to tell if your self-help is truly helping is to look is to your external world. Has it shifted?  Have you…

  • manifested a healthy relationship? 
  • started living more abundantly? 
  • let go of the people, situations, or patterns that are not working for you or are toxic?  
  • made the changes you have been talking about for years? 

Our outer world acts as the mirror to show us what is going on inside of us. When you shift or heal something on the inside, it will be reflected in the outer world. When you truly do transform a limiting belief, bring faith to your fears, or integrate parts of yourself – shadows  that you have disowned -  these internal shifts will be reflected in your external world. It’s actually quite magical! All of a sudden you’ll be able to:

  • get out of bad relationships or stop sabotaging good ones 
  • step out of your story of being the victim and take back your power

You’ll be able to see opportunity where a week ago you couldn’t see any and you will have the confidence and courage to take advantage of it.

Your life will be different!

How do I know?

Because I experience it all of the time – not only with the people I work with, but consistently in my own life.

I am particularly reminded of the impact and blessing of doing self-help that helps at this time of year since September is my birthday month.  For the first forty plus years of my life I was one of those people who dreaded their birthday.  Birthdays were always a source of disappointment, unmet expectations, and hurt feelings.

Learning about the shadow, I started to unravel my “birthday karma.”  I realized that my dread and feelings of sadness and disillusionment around birthdays started at a very young age.  I also saw how as an adult I had become the culprit who sabotaged my birthdays by never communicating my wants and desires to my loved ones and then getting upset at them for not being mind-readers and doing what I thought they should.

I am happy to report that as a result of shadow work – self-help that helps - for over the past ten years, my birthdays have become a true celebration.  Not only do I celebrate with my nearest and dearest, but my three daughters and now their boyfriends know that Labor Day Weekend is Kelley’s birthday weekend.  We have walked the beach in Malibu, hiked in Aspen, seen theater in NYC, gone wine-tasting in Napa, and eaten gelato in Capri.  As I write this blog, I am on my way to Paris to celebrate my birthday.  

So here is what I know for sure. Self-help does help!  When you do the work to shift something on the inside, not only will your life dramatically change on the outside but you will also attract people who reflect your internal shifts!  Your life will become a manifesting machine as it reflects the self-love and wholeness you feel inside!

Transformational Action Steps

1.     Take a moment to reflect upon the personal growth you have been doing.  Take a moment to survey your life.  Ask yourself, “Is my self-help helping?” Have there been concrete changes in your life?  Are you manifesting that which you desire?

2.     If you see you have made concrete changes…fabulous!  Ask yourself, “What’s next?” If you don’t see concrete changes, then consider trying a new path.

3.     If you want to do some deep, life-changing inner work, we invite you to come to The Shadow Process Miami September 14th to September 16th. This is definitely self-help that helps.  Click here to learn more and register.

The #1 Tool to Radically Shift Your Relationship!

The #1 Tool to Radically Shift Your Relationship!

“He/she never listens to me.”
“No matter what I do, it’s never good enough!”
“I can’t trust him/her to follow through.”
“What about my needs?”

On a daily basis, I hear stories from people about their relationships.

They are somewhere on the scale of feeling frustrated - fed-up - frozen - finished. 

They are not sure if the relationship will make it or not and whether they truly want it to or not.

They question what is best for themselves, their partner, and their kids.

They have tried talking, therapy, and yelling, as well as silence and separate bedrooms.

As they share their stories about all of the things their partner is doing that causes them pain or drives them crazy, I let them get it out for a while before I jump in and ask,

“What if it’s not about them? 

What if this is happening for you instead of to you?”

When we are in relationships, we tend to make it all about the other person. We think about what they did wrong, how their behavior was inappropriate, and what they could or should be doing differently. But here’s the thing. The lessons you need to learn are not about the other person.  They are about you! 

One of the reasons I tell couples and family members who are experiencing angst in their relationships to run, not walk, to The Shadow Process Workshop is because at The Shadow Process we talk about one of the most powerful tools that can radically shift a relationship – projection!

Projection is the act of 'projecting' a quality of our own onto another. Any time we are triggered, blaming, or judging others as being wrong or the cause of our unhappiness, we are likely in projection. Simply put,

What we can't be with in others is what we can't be with in ourselves.

Our relationships, especially with those people closest to us, serve as our strongest mirrors and greatest guides. They reveal the wounds we need to heal, the actions and patterns that no longer serve us, and the outdated beliefs we need to reveal and shift.  They illuminate our shadows – the parts of ourselves we have disowned, hidden from ourselves, or lost. They show us what in us needs to be healed.  Our relationships are one of the greatest tools for shedding light on all of our sensitivities and insecurities since

What we can’t stand in others is something that needs to be healed in ourselves.

Ultimately, we all want to be whole and fully expressed. We want to make peace with and have access to all of the parts of ourselves.

But here’s the rub. By definition, we can’t see that which we have disowned.

That is why shadow work is so brilliant!  It teaches us to use the mirror of relationship to bring light to the parts of ourselves that we have hidden in the shadows so we can uncover them, find their gifts, integrate them back, and experience a greater sense of wholeness.

That is why after people do The Shadow Process, so many of their relationships shift so dramatically.  Instead of focusing on all of the things that their partner/child/parent does that angers, or hurts them, they learn to use their relationships as their mirror.  And in doing so:

  • They take responsibility for what they need to make peace with in themselves instead of fixating on what is bothering them about their partner.
  • They shift from feeling like the victim of their relationship to being the architect of their personal growth.

Bottom line, we take ourselves wherever we go.  Until we deal with that which is unhealed within us, we will keep attracting partners who keep triggering those same wounds and shadows. And although it may not feel like a gift, it is.  The Universe is actually sending us the messages and messengers to support us in gaining awareness, healing, and evolving. 

If you want to learn about projection and how to use your current and past partners as your mirrors, teachers, and guides as opposed to your punching bags, then I encourage you to run, not walk, to The Shadow Process.

It’s time to shift your relationships from the inside out!

Transformational Action Steps

(1)  Join us at The Shadow Process September 14th to September 16th in Miami.  Learn more and register at http://www.TheShadowProcess.com

(2)  Work with the tool of projection:

a.    If you are in a relationship, think about the behaviors you see in your partner that you judge as wrong or trigger you. If you are not in an intimate relationship, then identify a person that upsets or frustrates you and think about the behaviors or actions of that person that trigger you.

b.  Ask yourself, "What is the quality or characteristic of a person who would display this kind of behavior?"

c.  Identify how you display that quality even if it is in a completely different way. If you can't see how you display that quality now, allow yourself to see how you have displayed it in the past or how you could or might display it in the future under different circumstances.

d.  Allow yourself to identify how that quality has or could serve, benefit, or protect you.

Igniting the Fire of Your Inner Desire

Igniting the Fire of Your Inner Desire

Last week I had a true proud mama moment!  I flew to L.A. to attend the premiere of a series pilot that was created, written, produced, and acted in by my 25 and 27 year old daughters.  Although as a mom, I was pinching myself watching what they have accomplished, the truth is 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 dream.  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, like my daughters did, create your own red carpet experience.

Transformational Action Steps

  1. To get some support igniting your confidence and courage, join us for The Confidence + Courage Makeover on Tuesday August 28th at Noon Pacific/3 PM Eastern. Sign up here. (If you can’t make it live, don’t worry – as long as you register, you’ll get access to the replay for a limited time.)
     
  2. 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.
     
  3. If you feel any fear or hear the voices inside your head telling you why you cannot have what you envision, join us at The Shadow Process Workshop. I guarantee you it will change your life. Click here for the details on how you can join us in Miami from September 14th to 16th to remove the thoughts and beliefs that stand between you and your soul’s desires!
     
  4. If you want to join me in my proud mama moment, watch Kismet, the series pilot created by my daughters! Watch here.

Why Don't You Tell Them?

Why Don't You Tell Them?

We’ve all been there before.

  • You see a friend with a split in their pants, a stain in an unfortunate location, their zipper down, or some kind of wardrobe malfunction…Do you tell them?
  • A potential business associate keeps mispronouncing your name in meetings…Do you correct them?
  • A fellow professional has misspellings on their website, social media posts, or blogs…Do you let them know?
  • An acquaintance or even a stranger at a bar has something green in their teeth…Do you say something?

Especially at this time when being “politically correct,” more accepting, and less judgmental is being emphasized, you can’t help but getting caught up in the quandary of “Do I say something or just keep my mouth shut?”

Now before I go on, let me clarify two things.  

First, I believe there is a distinction in terms of situations that are matters of opinion versus those like the ones mentioned above which are black and white or “facts.”  This blog is about those hard truths, the times you know when that person gets home and finds their fly down or the lettuce wedged in their teeth, a wave of embarrassment will wash over them as they try to trace who might have noticed and how bad it was. 

And second, this blog is not about the person who is being told about their mistake or faux pas since everyone reacts differently to honest feedback. And it is their insecurities, wounds, or shadows which will determine how they process, defend, reject, spin, use, or integrate the feedback.

This blog is for all of us who spend the five seconds, minutes, or hours belaboring the question “Do I tell them or not?”

Years ago, my friend and mentor Debbie Ford and I made a pact to always tell each other if the other “had green stuff in their teeth.”  This pact was a metaphor for how we promised to respect and hold each other in every aspect of our lives – honestly and always supporting the other’s greatness as opposed to their fears, excuses, complacency, or even mediocrity.

Debbie was known for living her life along the line of impeccability and with her goals and vision in mind.  She also fought like a bulldog to support others in living their best lives.  Being around her, I quickly came to realize that when it comes to being “straight” or direct with people, the way you hold others is a reflection of the way you hold yourself. 

As some of you may or may not know, The Ford Institute is regarded as a leader in training and certifying life coaches.  Knowing that you can’t authentically lead people where you have yet to go, our coaches go through a profound and life-changing training process, which includes:

  • Getting radically honest with themselves so they can support others in looking at their truths. 
  • Looking at their fears, shadows, insecurities, excuses, limiting thoughts, and negative patterns so they can encourage others to look at what is keeping them stuck, playing small, and feeling small. 
  • Acknowledging and celebrating themselves so they can invite others to fill themselves up with love, acceptance, and validation and stop looking outside themselves for acceptance.
  • And most importantly, they commit to living in their potential and the magic of what’s possible in order to stand in 100% certainty as they presence the potential and possibilities for others.

Bottom line, they learn to hold themselves in their highest so they can do that for others

Although it would be nice to think that we all would automatically and naturally hold ourselves in our highest, we all know that is not the case.  How often do we buy into our own excuses, choose short-term gratification over long-term fulfillment, or let our fears outweigh our desires?

To support you in holding yourself in your highest so you can be direct with others, here are two tips:

Tip #1: Do Shadow Work

Oddly enough, it is the many of the same things - our shadows, insecurities, fears, beliefs, projections, and wounds - that not only get in the way of us receiving honest feedback but also giving it.  Many equate feedback to criticism. 

  • Not wanting to be seen as judgmental, cruel, or critical, we bite our tongue and swallow our truth. 
  • For those who felt hurt, judged, embarrassed, or shamed by feedback as a child, they probably decided long ago that they would never do to others what was done to them, and those wounds impact their ability to be direct. 
  • Others are afraid of giving feedback because they don’t want to open the door to getting any in return. 
  • And for all of the people pleasers, giving feedback is a real stretch.  They are programmed to only do and say what they feel is nice, kind, and supportive since they fear that being honest might alienate the people they have worked so hard to please.

So, to break free of the shadows, fears, or negative beliefs that prevent you from being straight with others, first you must uncover what they are.  Then you want to identify the events that gave birth to those beliefs.  What did you see or experience when you were a child when it came to feedback, being direct with people, or criticism?  Once you identify the meaning which got implanted in your operating system, you can find compassion for the little child who made giving feedback wrong and empower the adult who hesitates.  You can also start creating new empowering beliefs about the benefits of being forthright with others and be free to be the person you want to be.

Tip #2: Ask Yourself “Who Do I Want To Be In This Moment?”

We have the choice to decide who we want to be in every moment.  Do you want to be a person who speaks their truth?  A person who shows up? A person who others can count on? A person who looks the other way? A person who chooses harmony over truth?

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question since it is about what is right for you.  However, consciously choosing who you want to be in each moment determines how you hold yourself and others.

We cannot control what others will do or how they will respond to us telling them that their fly is down or they added a list of numbers incorrectly. However, we can control who we want to be and what we want to stand for.  Personally, I appreciate and am grateful for the people in my life who tell me when I have green stuff in my teeth or a misspelling in something I have written.  It shows they love me enough to risk speaking the truth if it will support my magnificence. And as my friend Debbie Ford once said,

“Giving clear, honest, and direct feedback is one of the
greatest gifts you can give to another human being.”

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Start asking yourself on a consistent basis, “Who do I want to be in this moment?” Let that answer source your actions.
     
  2. Identify the fears, beliefs, shadows, and insecurities you have about being direct with people.  Identify where they came from.  To help shift those beliefs and bring faith to those fears, think about the benefits of giving and receiving honest feedback.
     
  3. If you have ever had the inkling to train to be a Life Coach, whether it is as a career move or a training you want to enhance your present career or your role as a parent, partner, or friend, then I encourage you to learn more by clicking here.

Reconnecting With Your Soul's Desires

Reconnecting With Your Soul's Desires

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. I have been in Greece for the past week or so. Although I have done a lot of traveling this year, my trips, although amazing, have been full of early morning wake-up calls and jam-packed itineraries. This trip was a true vacation, especially the last five days in Mykonos. I got up on my own accord and my biggest decision of the day was which beach club to explore. I enjoyed a wonderful beach read and basically flowed into each moment, one moment at a time.

Although most people like to stay connected when they travel, I reveled in the delight of disconnection.

Generally identifying myself as a person who loves structure and thrives on my ability to multi-task and accomplish so much in a day, I was shocked at how good I was at doing nothing! And I enjoyed it! Yet somewhere in between my third beach club and seventh Greek salad (yes, I was enjoying a feta-thon!), a very cool thing happened.  As my life got quieter, I was able to hear a voice I hadn’t connected with in a while.  I was able to hear the whisperings of my soul. 

To live an integrity-guided life, you must be out of your mind, so you can be in your heart and hear the whisperings of your soul. 

Our soul knows.  It is filled with wisdom to guide us so we can do and be all that we desire. It is always trying to get our attention, but often we are just too busy to hear it or are so used to listening to the voice of our ego, that we have a hard time distinguishing the voice of our soul from that of our ego.

As I write in The Integrity Advantage,

There is a distinction between the soul’s declaration and the ego’s.  Although not “wrong” or “bad,” your ego’s declaration, which is generally your wounded ego’s vision, comes from what you think you need or should be. It is attached to an outcome. Although following your ego’s vision might bring you moments of fulfillment or happiness, they are generally short-lived, and before you know it, you are looking for what’s next. From that expensive watch to the promotion to following in your father’s footsteps, you must learn to distinguish your ego’s vision from your soul’s declaration and start living according to what your soul truly desires.

Your soul’s declaration is grounded in spirit and inspires you — and the world. It is born out of humility, asking for guidance and praying to be revealed. It fills you with a sense of expansiveness, and you can feel that sense of light and growth spread throughout the cosmos. It grows with a knowing that it is bigger than you, it is meant to serve something greater than you, and it is not at all encumbered by a need to make sense or to be attached to a specific outcome.

And just like we as humans are always evolving, so does the voice of our soul. What might have been your soul’s desires five years, months, or days ago might be different than it is today.  So I want to invite you to join me in taking time to disconnect from the noise and reconnect with what is important to you at this moment in your life. Take time to pinpoint your priorities, tap into your truth, and define your grandest desires.  Be open to letting what you hear surprise you.  Don’t dismiss it because it seems illogical or you may not know how to achieve it in this moment. Life will lead you when you allow yourself to be led. Also, remember that your soul’s declaration does not need to “change the world” or be “big.” It just needs to feel like a big deal and life-changing to you!

As they say, “The soul line is the goal line” and it just may be a beach chair away.

Transformational Action Steps

  1. Take time to disconnect.  Whether it is for a day, a week or a month, find the time and place where you can shut off (or at least turn down) the noise.
     
  2. Give yourself the opportunity to connect with the whisperings of your soul.  Ask to be shown.  Don’t be attached to what you think it should sound like. Be present to what you hear or see.  Dwell in its possibilities.  See what or if there are any steps you want to take to make it a reality. And know that if it keeps coming up for you, it probably is ready to be birthed.
     
  3. Register for The Shadow Process from September 14th to September 16th in Miami to clear out the noise and tune into the whisperings of your soul. Click here to learn more and register.

Learning To Love Your Cellulite, Stomach, and Scars

Learning To Love Your Cellulite, Stomach, and Scars

I hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer.  I am literally moving very slowly into summer since I had a procedure a few weeks ago that has curtailed my normal activity. 

Several years ago, I had a pain in the area of my lower abdomen which was so acute that at times I could not sit up straight.  After seeing several doctors, they determined I had a growth on my ovaries.  At the time, they treated it with antibiotics and made the decision to monitor it regularly.  Since the mass continued to grow, this past February my gynecologist suggested I consult with a specialist.  Not thinking anything of it, I scheduled the appointment in between my workout and work day.  I figured the most the doctor would tell me was that I needed to have the growth removed, which, in my mind, would be a quick outpatient procedure. 

Determined not to miss a beat in my day, I arrived at the specialist’s office juggling my iPhone and iPad.  Now, I must admit that I was a bit taken aback when I found out that the doctor I was seeing was a gynecologic oncologist, located in the new “Cancer Institute” building of the hospital.  However, I shook it off and kept my eye on the prize which was trying to get in and out in under two hours. 

My true shift in focus happened about an hour into my journey.  Upon examining me and looking at my records, the doctor informed me that not only had the growth reached a size that it needed to be removed but he also suggested taking out my ovaries and tubes. He then said my recovery time would be a few weeks.  Flabbergasted, I could hardly wrap my head around what he was saying.  I went home speechless.  Now, let’s be real. It was not that I needed my reproductive organs. At my age, that ship had sailed years ago.  But on some level, I felt that without them I would somehow be less of a woman.  I literally cried that night in the shower, feeling the loss of a part of my identity.

A month ago, I actually had the surgery.  Although it took a few days for the anesthesia to wear off and to get past the initial discomfort, again I was surprised by where my focus went.  Although I felt blessed that my daughters came home to take care of their mama and I was relieved when the pathology reports came back fine, my attention was drawn to the four inch-long incisions that were made around and below my belly button and the hard bulge that was now protruding from my stomach.  Although, I have always had my share of body image issues, my stomach had never been a major focus. 

All of a sudden, I had what I now describe as my “ova – reaction!” My feelings of desirability and attractiveness felt contingent upon and diminished by my bulging and scarred belly.   I was uncomfortable letting my person (aka my boyfriend) see my stomach because I projected upon him the feelings of dis-ease that I now had with this part of my body.  If I couldn’t love that part of myself, how could he?

If I wasn’t feeling a bit sensitive, it would have actually been comical.  No matter how much I know about how the monkey mind plays tricks on us, it was fascinating to see how easy it was to get swept up in negative thoughts, over-identifying with this one part of myself instead of looking at the totality of who I am. 
Of course, I see this all the time with the people I work with.  They fixate on one part of their body or appearance, thinking that they are: their double-chin, the number on the weight scale, the guy with the big nose, the cellulite on their thighs, the muffin-top that rolls over their jeans, or the size and shape of their breasts, whether too small, large, or saggy. Their identity gets so enmeshed with one trait or aspect of themselves that they are blinded to the fact that when you label yourself, you limit yourself.  They lose sight of the knowing that they are so much more than that myopic sense of self.  They also cannot fathom that if that one thing - the job, wealth, youthful beauty - was suddenly taken away, they would still flourish.

Luckily for me, my ova-reaction quickly turned into ovary-action.  To support me in bringing love to my cellulite, stomach, and scars, and navigate my stinking-thinking, I started doing and concentrating on the following three things:

1.     I kept reminding myself that my thoughts were just that. They were thoughts, not truths.  And whenever I get caught up in that loop of negative thinking, I have the power to shift my consciousness, and replace thoughts that do not serve me with ones that do.

2.     I kept singing to myself India Arie’s song, “I Am Not My Hair!”  and continually telling myself that, “I am not my scars,” that the scars on my stomach do not define my beauty or desirability, and I am not less of a woman because I had my ovaries and tubes removed.

3.     I kept focusing on the gift of wholeness and instead of looking at what “I am not…,” I kept consciously remembering everything that “I am!”

For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept of wholeness, we are all born whole and complete.  As a result of life’s experiences and the judgments of ourselves and others, we disown the parts of ourselves we don’t like and deny that certain parts of ourselves exist within because we can’t imagine that the traits we admire in others could possibly reside within us.  We wrap our identities around a few core qualities and overcompensate for that which we believe we lack.  We try to fix, change, starve, and perfect ourselves, never realizing that we are whole and complete just as we are.

The gift of owning our wholeness is that it reminds us to stand in the totality of who we are instead of obsessing about what we are not.
  It reminds us not to over-identify with any one part of ourselves and fuels us with the knowing that in us is every part that we see in the world.  Wholeness is our birthright.  And as I write in “The Integrity Advantage,” the great news is:

“When you can own that you are everything on the inside, then
you have the power to manifest anything on the outside.”

So this week I invite you to unwrap the gift of wholeness and to focus not on that which you are not but on all that you are.  And if you need a reminder, then join me in the chorus as I sing along with India Arie:

“I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within”

Transformational Action Steps

1.   Think about and make a list of the parts of your body or image of yourself that you tend to identify yourself with. 

2.   Allow yourself to see how labeling yourself as that limits you or keeps you stuck in the box of an identity that may or may not be fitting anymore.

3.   Take time to look at how you are so much more than that.  Dwell in the concept of wholeness and seeing that everything is within you.  How does that feel and what would you be able to create if you were sourced from a feeling of wholeness?

4.   If you want to delve deeper into the concept of wholeness, join us at The Shadow Process September 14th to September 16th in Miami. Visit http://www.TheShadowProcess.com for more information and to register.

5.   Sing along with India Arie here

It's Never Too Late For Spring Cleaning

It's Never Too Late For Spring Cleaning

Lately I have been doing what I call "Spring Cleaning!" I have cleaned out closets, organized notebooks and files, deleted old documents from my computer, taken care of some business situations I like to avoid, and scheduled doctors' appointments that I previously had told myself I didn't have time for or weren't that important. Knowing that my outer world impacts my inner world and external clutter creates inner chaos, I have been taking care of the circumstances and conditions that may subtly diminish or blatantly rob me of my sense of well-being.

In doing my "Spring Cleaning," not only am I working from the outside in but also from the inside out. Not only does your external clutter create inner chaos but even more so your internal clutter creates external chaos - and that can result in anything from mini-implosions to grand explosions in any and all areas of your life.

Internal spring cleaning can encompass anything from examining your limiting thoughts and beliefs to connecting with suppressed emotions to finding new levels of self-forgiveness. It is a chance to resolve any integrity issues that may be consciously or unconsciously impacting your ability to step into your next level of deserving or worthiness.

For me, internal spring cleaning entails eating a lot more green and clean, actively studying and learning new things, spending more time connecting with spirit, and cleaning up any relationships that feel unfinished or incomplete. In this work, we describe incompletions as bloodsuckers because they want and need resolution and they occupy space in your psyche. Even if they fade into the background of your busy days, something or someone will remind you of them and then that incompletion will pop back into your awareness bringing feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, resentment or blame.

When it comes to relationships, one of the biggest sources of incompletions stems from undelivered communications. Undelivered communications are the thoughts, opinions, or upsets that you have with someone that you have yet to communicate. These can include sharing with someone that you have been dating that your feelings for them are not strong enough to continue the relationship, telling a valued co-worker that they did not get the promotion, contacting a friend that you have drifted away from to let then know you love them, miss them, and want to make plans, or reaching out to someone that you heard has lost a loved one, is getting divorced, or going through a hard time. Undelivered communications drain you of your vital energy.

Often we lie to ourselves about undelivered communications. We tell ourselves that "it doesn't matter," "it's better left unsaid," "what someone doesn't know won't hurt them," or "I need to wait until the other person brings it up or says it first." These are all just excuses we come up with to hide our resistance or fear, to avoid conflict or rejection, to please others, to go for short-term gratification, or to play it safe. We convince ourselves that choosing harmony over truth will preserve the relationship but the opposite is actually true. Any time you cannot be straight with someone about who you are or how you feel, your relationship will become fraught with integrity issues. Holding on to an undelivered communication actually causes separation and deprives you of real intimacy and deep connection.

The bottom line is that incompletions are a huge energy drain. They rob you of your power, creativity, and ability to manifest your desires. So whether you need to say what you need to say or take care of any unresolved issues, if you want to joyously jump into a summer of possibilities, a fabulous fall, or a winter of wonderment, then remember - it's never too late for spring cleaning!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Look around your external and internal worlds. Make a list of incompletions, issues that feel unresolved, and situations you have wanted to change or clean up.

(2) Start with top one to three things that feel most compelling and figure out a plan to handle them.

(3) Look at your relationships and see if there are any undelivered communications that you want or need to make. This can be anything from saying, "I love you!" to speaking your truth.

(4) Spend some time dwelling on how your internal clutter creates external chaos as well as how your external clutter creates internal chaos.

(5) Come to The Shadow Experience June 22nd to June 24th at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York to clean out your inner clutter!

Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

Your Inspired Vision Is Waiting For YOU!

I can't believe that summer is almost here and that, like so many of you, I, am thinking about my summer plans. This summer I have the privilege of leading The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. For me this is still humbling.

I remember the first time I went to Omega in 2002. I had another business at the time. It was called Go Goddess! and we created games to connect and empower women and girls. As a result of the success of that business, we were asked to do speaking engagements and workshops. Although I was a "great girlfriend," I quickly realized that those traits didn't qualify me to stand up in the front of a room and hold, support, and advise other people. I decided I needed some sort of formal training. I called The Ford Institute because I'd heard that they offered the best life coach training program out there. The man I spoke with said that I could jump into the training which had already started if I promised to attend Debbie Ford's upcoming workshop at Omega. Something in my heart told me to jump and I did.

Weeks later I found myself on quite a journey: leaving my family, flying to New York City, and driving two hours up to the Omega Institute. I knew nothing about Omega and I didn't know anyone who would be at the workshop. As I arrived I thought to myself, "What am I doing here? What did I sign up for?" My life on the surface was seemingly fine and abundant. I was married, had three beautiful daughters, was an attorney, and had created a meaningful business with two of my closest friends. My plate was more than full. So what was I doing in rural New York, away from my family and friends, pursuing yet another degree or certification?

Little did I know that weekend would change my life and be such a huge turning point! Although at first I was scared to death of Debbie Ford, I clung to every word that came out of her mouth. I had tried all different kinds of transformational work by that time. I had read many books, done sweat lodges and rebirthing, studied Shamanic traditions and the ancient Gods and Goddesses, and participated in workshops and therapy. You name it, I had done it. Although they all had value, they just hadn't provided the shift my soul was longing to experience. But what I experienced during that weekend workshop at Omega did! By the end of the weekend I remember looking admiringly and enviously at Debbie, wishing that I could have the impact that she did and lead others through such profound and life-altering work.

And now it is with total awe of the divine design of life that 16 years later I will be going to Omega to lead The Shadow Experience for the fourth year in a row! I never would have predicted the direction that my life has taken these past 16 years but from this vantage point, I can see the perfection of the journey.

In her final book Courage, Debbie writes:

"We all have an inspiring vision. It may not be one that you recognize yet. It may live deep within you, stirring quietly below the surface. But it will see the light of day. Because, just like the sun obscured by the clouds or by the fall of night, it is always there waiting for you to bask in its golden light. Your vision is a precious gift from the divine."

All of our lives have a divine design. Many of us have been trying for years to figure out our purpose in life. We just need to trust and keep asking to be shown and as Debbie advises, "If you are not yet in the presence of your vision, start with what you love. Anything that inspires you, excites you, and motivates you in your life is sparked by the divine. You don't need to try to make it come, because it's already there." All you need to do is continue to be asked to be shown and listen. The wonderful news is:

"When you trust in the universe you get to play
in the magical world of God's plan."

If you are having trouble trusting or connecting to that voice within, then I invite you to do what I did 15 years ago and jump! Come join us at Omega for The Shadow Experience. I know that it will touch and transform your life as it did mine and thousands of other people!

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Write out three lists:

- List #1: Things you love and that inspire, excite, and motivate you (anything from animals to food to helping others)

- List #2: Distinct gifts you possess (anything from putting on make-up to giving advice to others)

- List #3: The unique experiences you have had, including even the painful experiences you have endured like divorce, loss, or hard financial times

(2) Start exploring how the items on your lists impact you and if any of them hold the seed of your inspired vision. Do they light you up?

(3) Continue to ask the divine to show you how it wants to use you for the good of all. Even if you think you already know what this is, allow yourself to look through the eyes of your most fearless and passionate self.

(4) Join us for The Shadow Experience: Breaking Through to Emotional & Spiritual Freedom at the Omega Institute June 22nd to June 24th. Learn more and register here.

Embracing the Bad Mother in All of Us!

Embracing the Bad Mother in All of Us!

Normally on Mother's Day, we read articles and Hallmark cards highlighting all of the good deeds, affectionate gestures, and altruistic virtues of a "good mother." We are bombarded with images of women cheerfully cleaning finger paint off of the wall, driving carpool, hauling soccer gear, or patiently waiting as their teenager ignores their very existence.

Yet week after week, I encounter countless numbers of women who feel that they have somehow or in some ways flunked motherhood. They are ashamed about the way they lost their temper, were absent, pushed their child too hard, didn't push their child enough, or impacted their child's life with their divorce. They are beating themselves up for being bad moms! (And dads, this is the same for you too but since it is Mother's Day, I am wording this in the feminine.) They are berating themselves for not being the kind of mother they think they should be and blaming themselves for everything that goes "wrong" in their child's life. They compare themselves and their children to others and condemn themselves for what they perceive to be their shortcomings. They focus on their "failures" and see their flaws as fatal. They feel tremendous guilt and shame about being what they hate to say out loud or even admit to themselves -- a bad mom!

For many of us, our vision or ideal of who we should be as a parent was developed early on. We saw a movie or had a friend who seemed to have a picture-perfect mother and from that moment on, we decided that we wanted to be kind, creative, fun, smart, capable, and talented just like her. For others, this archetype of who we should be as a mother was born out of not wanting to be the traits or qualities that we disliked in the women closest to us, most specifically our mothers. We vowed to never be cruel, lazy, mean, judgmental, negative, weak, or a failure like our mother.

Our shadows are these unwanted qualities that we vow not to be. They are the characteristics that we hated in others or ones that caused us embarrassment or even emotional and physical harm. Committed to not being that which we judge in others, from an early age we started crafting our definition of what a good mother should be. Although it comes from a pure intention, the fact is our definition of who we should be as a parent is determined by our shadows. It is birthed from our childhood wounds or a very hurt part of ourselves that created this narrow view of who we should and should not be as a parent. It is fueled by denial and an overwhelming fear that we may turn into that which we hated. And it becomes etched in our psyche the moment we declare, "I will never be like my mother!"

As we are methodically piecing together the picture of the parent we think we should be, we don't realize our evolution to being the fullest expression of ourselves as a parent, as well as a person, will not come from denying that which we don't want to be but embracing everything that we are -- good and bad!

As Carl Jung said, "I would rather be whole than good."

Shadow work is based on the concept of wholeness. It is based on knowing that within us is every characteristic that we see in the outer world. To be the fullest expression of ourselves, we must unconceal, own, embrace, and integrate all of the characteristics that we have disowned or denied. To do this we must find the gifts of the negative characteristics that we judge and make wrong in our mothers or others.
 

  • How could being lazy like your mother actually serve you?
  • What would be possible if you embraced that you too were weak and needy? Would you be able to ask for help or not always have to be the strong one?
  • Has not wanting to be negative like your mother caused you to see the glass as half full?

And how has not wanting to be a bad mother supported you in being a really good mother?

Many of us think that we need to be good to be effective and that we need to be perfect to be good. But the fact is our children will learn as much from the part of us that is a bad mother as they will from the part of us that is a good one.

Ultimately, the greatest gift we can give our children is to learn to love and accept themselves. We want them to find the lessons in their "mistakes," the wisdom in their wounds, the perfection of their imperfections, and the fun in their flaws. We want to teach them new perspectives and to be aware of whether they are looking for what's right or what's wrong. We want them to put down the internal bat that they have used to beat themselves up and to open up to greater levels of understanding and compassion for themselves. By teaching them to find the gifts in that which they judge, we pave the way for them to love a part of themselves that they have seen as "bad."

So on the heels of Mother's Day, I want to encourage you to acknowledge that bad mother part of you for all she has taught you. Embrace her for the humanity she has brought into your household. And maybe even applaud her for providing some of the real and rawest moments that have and will add to the richness of the texture of the tapestry of your family.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Make a list of the traits or characteristics that you think would or do make you a bad mom. Make sure you add all the traits that you saw in others, particularly your mother, and swore you would never be.

(2) Find the gifts of at least five of those traits. How have they served you?

(3) Write a letter of appreciation to the part of you that you see as your "bad mom." How has it served you? What do you see are its gifts?

(4) Sign up for The Shadow Process or The Shadow Experience with your mother or daughter!

3 Tips For More Self-Love

3 Tips For More Self-Love

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this concept of unconditional love for both ourselves and others.  Defined by many as “affection without limitations or love without conditions,” I sometimes question whether unconditional love in its purest form is attainable and sustainable. 

When it comes to unconditional love for others, many say that although there may be times when they don’t like or are upset with the people they love, underneath whatever might be going on in the moment, they do always love them. 

However, when it comes to unconditional love for ourselves, after working with thousands of people, it is clear that our love for ourselves is very much conditional. Why? Because we have lost sight of who we are.  And as I write in The Integrity Advantage:

To love ourselves, we need to know ourselves.

The problem is that most people know themselves in a distorted or liming way.  Our sense of self has been largely formulated by the projections and programming of others.  We take on what other people think of and say about us, even if the other person doesn’t have any idea who we are.  We also take on the projections of others without questioning whether that person is seeing themselves or us. As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Our sense of self is also slanted by our limited view of ourselves. Most of us are walking around constantly beating ourselves up and berating ourselves.  When it comes to ourselves, we are constantly judging and fixating on our flaws and what needs fixing. We see only pieces of ourselves and focus on what we are not instead of realizing all that we are.  We forget that we are born whole and complete and that wholeness is our birthright.  It is not and cannot be taken away. It is the integrity of who we are and it is inside of us. It’s just that events happen that cause us to create negative interpretations and limiting beliefs about the essence of who we are.  As a result of these situations, we cease from knowing ourselves.   We cease seeing our true selves and, as a result, our view of and love for ourselves becomes compromised.

But the good news is that it is never too late to get to know yourself and take on self-love.  Here are 3 tips to support you on this journey.


Tip #1: Claim Your Whole Self

Many of us do not see in ourselves the qualities that we are in awe of in others.  We think, “I could never be that brilliant, talented, courageous, or exciting.” On the other hand, there is a list of qualities that we don’t like in ourselves or others, judge as negative, and vow we will never possess or show to the world.  Not wanting to be certain qualities, we whittle away at the full expression of who we are and fill ourselves up with contempt for the unwanted parts of ourselves. We don’t want to be stupid, lazy, or weak. 

 We cannot fill ourselves up with self-love if we are hating parts of ourselves!

I love the saying, “G-d [or the Universe] didn’t give us any spare parts.”  Shadow work is predicated on the concept of wholeness.  Every emotion and quality - “negative” and “positive” - is inside of us and they are there to serve us. Just like every experience and person who enters our life is there to deliver an insight or seed of wisdom and comes bearing some gift, so do all of our qualities and emotions. Just think about it. Wouldn’t it serve you to be selfish if you needed to create boundaries or take some time for yourself?

To truly know ourselves, we must claim our wholeness. Understanding that we are smart and stupid, exciting and boring, responsible and irresponsible, and perfect and imperfect gives us access to the spectrum of qualities that we are born with and allows us to be the fullest expression of who we are.  When we claim our whole self, our feelings of shame and attempts to hide who we are diminish.  Instead, a deep acceptance and appreciation for all that we are emerges. 

When we understand we are everything, we want for nothing!
Self-love flourishes when we own that we are whole and complete just as we are. 


Tip #2: Turn the Tide on Negative Self-Talk

Our negative self-talk is automatic.  It incessantly loops around our head, creating a choir of criticism that diminishes our sense of self and turns us into our own worst enemy. Believing our negative self-talk to be the truth of who we are and what we are capable of, we play small, remain invisible, and quiet our voice. We imprison ourselves in a limited perspective of who we are and what we are capable of.   Transformation is a shift in perception. The negative self-talk is not the truth of who we are. It’s just an outdated pre-recorded message that needs to be deleted and replaced with kind and empowering thoughts and words.

To get to know ourselves with new eyes and cultivate more self-love, we need to turn the tides on negative self-talk.  We need to treat it like the bully that it is, stand up to it, and tell it to shut the f*** up!  We need to take on proactively shifting the voice inside our head.  We need to look for:

·      what’s right instead of what’s wrong,
·      what we learned from a situation instead of how we messed up, and
·      what we have and are, instead of what we lack and are not.
 

Self-love will flourish when we start talking to ourselves like someone we love!


Tip #3: Learn To Fill Your Own Cup

Most of us look to the outer world to fill our cup.  We look for love, validation, affirmation, and the answers to what is best for us from people we don’t even know or sometimes don’t even like.  Instead of living on automatic pilot or looking to the outer world to tell us “what’s hot and what’s not” or what we should be doing, we need to take that U-turn back to ourselves to discern what we like, want, need, and desire.  We need to start building our muscles of self-trust and self-referral.  We also want to be conscious of filling our cup with things, situations, thoughts, choices, and people that are loving, healthy, and in our highest. 

To aid you in this process, start routinely asking yourself “What Is the Most Loving Thing I Can Do for Myself in This Moment? What Is for My Highest Good?” There are days when I let these questions lead me. I use them in making every decision, from the activities I partake in, to what I eat, to whom I spend time with. I honor the answers I get from inside.  I honor my vibration and energy with the philosophy that “If it is not a big ‘Yes!’ then it is a big ‘No!’”

If it is true that we teach people how to treat us, then
when we make ourselves matter, so will others!

Ultimately, self-love is a choice and a practice.  And the good news is that if we attract that which we are, then guess what happens when we commit to a self-love practice?  That is what will show up in both your internal and external worlds.  Once you take on loving yourself, anything that does not have that vibration of love just feels wrong, out of integrity, or like bottom-feeding.  Your tendency to settle or self-sabotage dissipates. Your being alters.  Filled with self-love, love becomes the magnetizing force from which you attract. You will create and encounter more loving situations, be able to love others more fully, and let more love in. If anything other than that shows up, you will bow out gracefully and say, “No, thank you!” since staying around or settling for that would not be an act of self-love.

So, as you move into today, this week, this month, take on loving yourself.  If you love yourself, you will feel deserving enough to live a life that is in alignment with your highest vision of who you want to be.  If you love yourself enough, you will feel worthy to truly have and be all that you can be and to claim your greatness.  Find the structures that support you in doing that.  And remember, who you are is love.

Transformational Action Steps

(1)  Make a list of the qualities that you don’t like or judge as negative in yourself or others. 

(2)  Start finding their gifts by asking yourself, “How has or could this quality serve me?”

(3)  Any time you start indulging in negative self-talk, tell it to “Shut the f**k up” and shift it to a thought that serves your highest.

(4)  Keep asking yourself “What Is the Most Loving Thing I Can Do for Myself in This Moment? What Is for My Highest Good?” and let your answers guide your actions and choices.

(5)  Take on learning about the shadow so you can reclaim, your wholeness.  Join us at The Shadow Process Miami September 14th to September 16th or The Shadow Experience at the Omega Institute June 22nd to June 24th. Click on the links to learn more.

Choose U!

Choose U!

Have you ever thought about what or who is driving your choices? 

Week after week I hear stories about:

  • The people-pleaser who does everything for everyone else besides themselves
     
  • The baby-boomer who puts their life and dreams of traveling more on hold to stay in close proximity and take care of their aging parents
     
  • The sibling that not only financially supports their own family but also feels compelled to pick up the check when they go out with their family or give money to their brother or sister who has fallen on hard times
     
  • The millennial who is trying to make their parents proud
     
  • The partner who is working around the clock because their significant other has certain materialistic expectations and desires
     
  • The creature of habit who lives on autopilot, doing the same or slightly different versions of the same thing that they did last month, year, or decade
     
  • The person born into a certain religion or culture who feels obligated to live in accordance with expected rules or norms, even if those values are not in alignment with their truth and desires
     

Although the specifics may vary, the common thread that runs through all of their stories is that they are letting others or their tendency to live on automatic pilot dictate their life. They are being driven not by what is in their hearts or in their highest.  Instead, they are running around like the proverbial gerbil on the wheel, putting others, organizations, and societal expectations in front of themselves.  And as Lily Tomlin famously said,

 

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you are still a rat.”


Making choices based on the expectations of others or placing the needs of others over ourselves is a setup for disappointment and exhaustion.  Even if you accomplish all the things that you set out to do, the accomplishments will eventually feel empty.  Why? Because they aren’t being sourced by your dreams, your desires, your truth, and your wants and needs. 

Instead, your choices are actually being driven by your conscious or, more often than not, your unconscious desire to:

 

  • Be a “good” person
  • Do the “right” thing, even if it isn’t right for you
  • Get the love, approval, or validation of others
  • Stay under the radar and in your comfort zone
  • Not have to take responsibility for your own life
  • Not commit to your own life and dreams out of the fear you that might try and fail

 

But the problem is that if you keep doing what you have always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. 

How much longer do any of us really want to keep running around on the same gerbil wheel?

 

Isn’t it time to Choose U?!

 

And the thing is that many of us are not even conscious about what is truly driving our choices.

We know and are told that our choices and actions shape our lives.  We know what we “should be doing. We wake up every Monday vowing that this week will be different. We tell ourselves that this week, “I will… put myself first, honor my needs and desires, cease feeling like the victim or passive observer of my life and take charge, or stop going for instant gratification over long-term fulfillment.”  But by the time Wednesday or Friday rolls around, we are back doing the same things we have always done, getting the same results, feeling bad about ourselves, and once again vowing “Next week will be different,” yet we notice the sense of self-doubt and resignation that seeps into the space before we even finish the thought.

If you are tired of breaking promises to yourself and then beating yourself up and feeling bad about yourself later, it is time to learn about what is controlling your choices and creating your life. It is time to proactively Choose U!

It’s not that you are a bad person or a loser at life.  It’s just that, although you know that your choices create your life, you might not be aware of what is driving your choices.

It is your unclaimed shadows -- your shame, your fear, your magical thinking, your insecurity -- that lurk in your unconscious and tell you what you can and cannot do, how much success you will experience, how much joy, happiness, and fun you will have or how much silent suffering, lack, and disappointment you will endure.  It is your shadow and your limiting internal beliefs that drive you to people-please, put others first, avoid living in your truth and going for your greatness and ultimately, keep you from Choosing U!

It is only when we bring the light of awareness to the shadows and unconscious drivers that are keeping us stuck, feeling small, frustrated, and like we don’t matter that we can take ourselves out of the rat race and put ourselves back into the driver’s seat.

Since our present is a result of the choices we made yesterday, and our future will be determined by the choices we make today, then if you want to change the trajectory of your life, it starts by unconcealing what is unconsciously driving your choices and making a conscious decision to Choose U!

If you want to live a life that matters, you have to make yourself matter.
 

Do you want to live an extraordinary future? The choice is yours and it starts today! All you have to do is Choose U!

Transformational Action Steps


(1) Identify two goals that you keep saying 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 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? Is it your people-pleaser? 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 Choose U and put yourself back in the driver’s seat of your life. Journal about what would be different if you were consciously Choosing U.

(5) Sign up for Every Choice Matters: Choose U! a life-altering program you can do from the comfort of your own home starting Monday May 14th. In Every Choice Matters, you will be guided to discover how your shadow is in control and impacting each and every area of your life. By shedding light on what lies at the root of your choices, you will be able to make new choices -- choices that empower you, inspire you, and propel you into an extraordinary future.  You will get 15% off when you register by April 30th. Learn more and register here.

I can tell you that the transformation I've experienced is ultimately because of the choices I've made. This same transformation can be yours. I promise you that when you join us on this journey of Every Choice Matters, you will be able to powerfully use your voice and begin to feel worthy of everything the universe is waiting to deliver to you.

The time is now.

The choice is yours. Choose U!

Claim Your Life!

Claim Your Life!

This coming weekend, I have the extreme honor of leading The Shadow Process Workshop in Los Angeles. No matter how many of these workshops I have attended, participated in, or led over the years, I am always in awe of the shifts that people experience in the short time span of 2 ½ days. I am also so grateful to Debbie Ford for creating a process that continues to live on and transform the lives of so many.

On a personal level, I am always amazed that even after having experienced this process numerous times, I always take away so many insights and a-has! One of the most powerful concepts that emerged from one of our amazing workshops is that it is up to each of us to "claim our life!"

We all have heard the adage "You teach people how to treat you." Yet what many people might not realize is that it is often your unconscious mind, which is far more powerful than your conscious mind, which tells and teaches people how to treat you and how to interact with you. It is also your unconscious mind that is filled with shadows and shadow beliefs -- all of that internal dialogue that plays in your head and repeats disempowering statements like "I am not good enough." "No one will ever love me." "It is not safe to stand out and shine or be seen." Ultimately, it is your negative internal dialogue that is your inner teacher, instructing the world how to treat you!

If you don't see yourself as worthy, loveable, or someone who has something to offer the world then neither will anyone else, since how you see yourself, consciously or unconsciously, is reflected in how others see you! Debbie always used to say that if someone told her that the world treats them badly, she knew that it was because they treated themselves badly! If a person was seen as a "worker" instead of an executive, it was because the person saw themselves as a "worker" and had not claimed and truly owned that they are an executive.

If you truly want to live a life that inspires you, if you want to keep evolving, if you want to step into the next greatest evolution of yourself, then you need to claim it! When you claim yourself as your highest self, the universe alters. When you claim and truly own that "I am that!" the Universe will align with your deep sense of knowing. Understanding this concept is really quite exciting because if you do your work to bring the shadows, thoughts, beliefs, and negative dialogue that live in your unconscious mind into the light of your conscious awareness, you will be able to shatter your limitations and step into creating magic and claiming the life that you long for. The really exciting news is that everything you yearn for is already inside of you. You just need to claim it!

Transformational Action Steps

1. Take on "Claiming Your Life!" Identify some goal or achievement that you are chasing in the outer world. Ask yourself, "What is the number one quality or characteristic that a person who could achieve that goal would display or have?" Is it confidence? Discipline? Charisma? Spontaneity? Or something else?

2. For the next 28 days, wake up every day and ask yourself, "What can I do today to really own or display that quality?" Commit to yourself to do whatever action or practice you hear.

3. Come to The Shadow Process Los Angeles April 6th to April 8th for your own insights and a-has! Learn more and register here.

What Are You Running Away From?

What Are You Running Away From?

In my last newsletter, I wrote about a situation which has been causing me a lot of heartache and how, despite all of the tools and wisdom that I have as a life coach and teacher of transformation, it has been hard for me to find a sustained sense of peace.  I shared how after going to healers, therapists, and doing lots of deep work around my core wounds and projections, I was so grateful to read Debbie Ford’s new book Your Holiness: Discover the Light Within because it reminded me that when I feel cut off at the knees, I need to get down on my knees and ask to be shown.  Bottom line, I needed some divine guidance to support me in finding resolution, relief, and a deeper understanding of self.

Days after working my way through the book and using prayer as a vehicle to connect and receive, I was running outside and heard the words, “Just be with the hurt."

Stunned and amused, I stopped dead in my tracks.  I realized that I had been literally running away from my hurt.  In my fixation to figure out and fix my pain, I had avoided really feeling the deep hurt that was being triggered inside of me. I was trying to get to the destination without going on the journey.  I’d been trying to bypass the feelings in my heart and resolve my pain in my mind, which, of course, was a strategy I developed long ago and even wrote about in The Integrity Advantage:

“Whenever we hate or resist something, we are pushing it away, but we can’t learn a lesson from something we refuse to look at….As the saying goes, ‘The only way out is through.’  No matter how much we try, we can’t get rid of our unwanted emotions until we feel them. We need to develop a healthy relationship with our emotions, so we can be informed and not affected by them, so we can feel and heal whatever is going on.  To be in integrity, we need to get out of our minds and into our hearts and feel what we need to heal.” 


Obviously, we teach what we need to learn and of course, I see myself in so many of the people I work with.  Their adult mind, which has done “so much work” on themselves or an issue, thinks it knows, can figure it out, or somehow tie up their issues and insights in a pretty package and be done with them. To find resolution and distance themselves from their pain, they rationalize why something happened or someone acted as they did. They say things like:

They were doing the best they could.”
“They didn’t mean to hurt me.”
“I know it’s not about me.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”


Or they quote some spiritual text that sounds really good and exhibits a level of understanding about why something happened.  Although everything they say is “true” and “makes sense,” you can still feel the pain in their voice and struggle in their heart when trying to wrap their arms around the issue. The adult mind, the ego, is really good at justifying things.  Even though we understand something on a cognitive level, that does not mean that we are healing it on a cellular level. The head can’t take us what the heart wants to go. No matter what the adult knows, the pain is coming from that little child inside that was so deeply hurt. It’s that little child inside of each of us that needs to be seen, let their feelings be expressed, and be loved, honored, and nurtured. 

Just taking a few days to acknowledge and feel my hurt lifted a burden from my heart.

Many of us avoid feeling our feelings by numbing out or staying distracted.  Keeping busy and always doing, is my escape route from feeling.  One of the many reasons I love The Shadow Process Workshop is the singularity that the workshop provides.  We are all there to do one thing: go within, take time to reflect, feel what needs to be felt, express what needs to said, and just do us.  We shut off our phones, unplug from our businesses, and ask our families to respect our need to disconnect so we can peel back the layers of protection and self-sabotaging habits that have kept us from feeling and healing at a deeper level so we can soar to higher heights without the weight of the past.  The gift of our own time and attention, as well as the safe, supportive, and loving cocoon that is quickly established, empowers everyone involved in the process to lean into the feelings and issues which they had previously only wanted to run away from. 

That’s why I’m excited it’s coming up in a few weeks. If you are ready to get off your own proverbial treadmill, then I encourage you to run, not walk, to The Shadow Process

I hope to see you there or soon!

Transformational Action Steps:

1.  Identify an emotion you have been pushing away or afraid of feeling. 

2.  Take some time to be with the emotion. Talk to it.  Listen to it.  What does it have to say to you?  What is its biggest fear? Don’t try to push it away or fix it.  Just give it some time and attention to express itself and see what happens.

3.  Come to The Shadow Process April 6th to April 8th in Los Angeles. Learn more and register here.

Ask and You Shall Receive!

Ask and You Shall Receive!

Often, people think that as a life coach or teacher of personal growth and transformation, I know how to "do life" better than others and can somehow fly above life's ups and downs. Although I, like many life coaches, do have a big toolbox full of techniques, practices, and knowledge to support me in traversing life's challenges, I have found that in certain emotionally charged situations, all that I know is definitely not the cure-all for all that I feel. 

The past few months, I have been dealing with a situation which I thought I should be able to process, deal with, work out, fix, find peace with, and move on. I have read about it, sought help from professionals, healers, and teachers, and looked at my core wounds, projections, and automatic self-sabotaging behaviors. On a cognitive level, I understand what is being triggered and how I should handle it. But the truth is, there is an ache inside of me that just won't go away. (Now let me pause and say that since I am a big believer on calling myself on my own BS, it is very true that on some level I might be getting something from holding on to my pain. However, that is another newsletter and teaching.) 

This past week, another incident occurred in this ongoing situation which triggered another palpable response inside of me. I knew that I had to dig deeper in my attempt to heal and grow. I had to find other resources. I just had no idea who or what to turn to. I was so caught up in my own drama, I did not realize that the answer to my search was sitting on my nightstand. 

As you all know, Debbie Ford was and is my mentor, teacher, guide, and friend. I now often refer to her as my partner on the other side. Debbie was the first one who taught me that "humility is the doorway through which the Divine can enter your life." Luckily for me, and all of us, Debbie continues to be a teacher from the other side. Today, Debbie's new book, YOUR HOLINESS: DISCOVER THE LIGHT WITHIN, is being released. Debbie wrote the manuscript years ago but it was not published at the time. 

Having been sent an advance copy of YOUR HOLINESS months ago, I skimmed the book a couple of times. The past few weeks, with lots of uninterrupted airplane time, I have had the opportunity to spend time with Debbie's book. One of the central themes of this beautiful book is the use of prayer. In the book, Debbie writes: 

Prayer is an ancient method of shifting our thoughts from the small self to the grander whole...Through prayer, we rid ourselves of self-doubt and self-condemnation, we cleanse our subconscious mind, and we make room for peace, happiness, and hope...Through the vehicle of prayer, we are able to navigate our way out of the darkness of our heartaches and negative feelings and find our way back into the loving embrace of our higher self. If we ask the universe to be our partner and guide us back on the path to wholeness, it will oblige. As the Bible tells us, and as I will remind you often, "Ask and you shall receive." 

Knowing that this book was birthed from the deepest part of Debbie's being because at the time she wrote it, she too was trying to heal heartache and bring peace to her pain, I believe that there are no coincidences. At a time when there is so much loss, grief, and struggle in the world, this book is a gift from beyond and being delivered at the perfect moment. YOUR HOLINESS is a sacred song that leads us through deeper layers of cleansing so we can attain greater levels of consciousness, connection, and divine love. 

Whether you have been dealing years of addiction, want to turn the tides on insecurity and self-doubt and cultivate more faith, find more inner peace, open up to your own divinity, or, like myself, are looking for an answer, insight, or guidance on a specific issue, then this book is a sweet, easy-to-read-and-use, effective guide. Just reading it brought me to holier place where I reconnected to my holiness and found a renewed sense of wholeness. 

I am beyond grateful that Debbie continues to teach and support all of us. YOUR HOLINESS not only helps us discover our light within but also aids us in lightening our load so we can infuse our souls with more love. 

Transformational Action Steps 

(1) Order YOUR HOLINESS: DISCOVER THE LIGHT WITHIN and read it. We've put together a beautiful collection of gifts for you, so when you order the book, be sure to register your purchase and redeem your gifts here

(2) Ask and you shall receive. Is there an issue you need guidance on or are wanting more peace around? Create a structure where you ask to be shown, be guided, be given insight. Then make space to get quiet so you can receive and hear the answer. 

(3) Come join us for The Shadow Process. I am very excited that we are having The Shadow Process Workshop a month from now - April 6th to April 8th - in Los Angeles. Since I, like Debbie, am a firm believer in "Ask and you shall receive," then if prayer is the vehicle for asking, we also need to be conscious of tuning out the outside noise and giving ourselves the opportunity and space to receive. In a world where we are all so busy, I love the singularity that the workshop provides. For me, The Shadow Process provides a safe cocoon as well as a magical opportunity to go within, do "a year of therapy in two-and-a-half days," and heal our hurt on a deeper level. You can learn more and register here

Our Children Are Our Change

Our Children Are Our Change

For the past ten days I have been traveling outside of the United States. We had a packed itinerary and my intention was to disconnect and just be where I was with the person I was with. Halfway into my trip, the Parkland shooting occurred. Since these horrific acts of mass violence have unfortunately become part of our daily life, I realize that I've actually developed a pattern of how I digest these heartbreaking events. I tend to watch hour after hour of commentary, making sure I check in from the morning shows to Jimmy Kimmel Live’s opening monologue. Since Parkland is less than an hour drive from where I live and I know people who live there, I am sure that had I been home, I would have been that much more fixated on learning more. Being in Europe, I actually felt a bit guilty about not being more on top of the subject. Yet every time I entered a designer store in Paris, I was consistently struck by the lack of gun control and safety precautions in our schools. How was it that to enter a designer store my bag would be searched and in some cases an armed guard would stand at the door, but in most schools in the U.S., people can walk in carrying anything? 

I really was at a loss for words and also acutely aware that just words were not enough. But then standing in line at the Milan airport, I saw a video of Emma Gonzalez, a senior and survivor of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and I was riveted. 

A total believer in our need both as individuals and as part of the collective to break through the excuses, justifications, rationalizations, and wishful thinking and to bust ourselves of our own BS, I was in awe and applauding when she called BS on lawmakers, politicians funded by the NRA, gun advocates, companies trying to make caricatures out of today’s teens, and many of the lame one-liners people use to justify doing nothing to create change. Although we all have a tendency to do it, believing our own BS is our way to, consciously or unconsciously, excuse ourselves from taking responsibility. Instead of living in our power, we give our power away and imprison ourselves in a past that may not be fitting or beneficial for the present or the future. 

On a personal level, underneath our BS usually lies some fear, limiting belief, laziness, or insecurity that we assume is too much to deal with. It keeps us fighting to keep our BS firmly in place. With issues like gun control reform, mental health care legislation, and school safety, whether it is self-advancement, monetary gain, or needing to be right or in control, I am sure that there are also a plethora of underlying issues that drive politicians and gun advocates to keep their BS firmly in place. But as Emma Gonzalez so passionately said, “...maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something.” 

For change to happen, busting ourselves of our own BS is a necessary step. Another necessary step is getting to that place of intolerance. I have said it a lot lately. When we get to that point where we finally and truly declare “Enough is enough!” that is where change begins. Intolerance of that which we can’t be with anymore has always been the prelude to not only personal but also social change. I, for one, am so impressed that so many of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have declared that they are going to be “last mass shooting in America.” You can see the fire in their eyes and the conviction in their voices and know that they will not stop until action is taken. Although people often think of the concept of intolerance as being a negative, it is often a positive. Intolerance is a tap on our shoulder trying to awaken us to action. 

Action is, of course, the most important step in creating change. On a personal level, I meet a lot of people who spend lots of time studying self-help and personal growth. They go to seminars, and workshops and work with coachers, healers, and therapists. They have lots of insights and “Ahas.” Yet if people don’t turn their “Aha!” moments into action, change will not occur. And similarly when dealing with the collective, conversation without action is just a lot of talk. The students of Marjory Douglas High School have wasted no time in turning their words into action by planning a march and a National High School Walk-Out and publicly asking for conversations with the President and other politicians funded by the NRA. They say they are prepared to work tirelessly, so they will go down in history as the students that made the difference and made it safer for our children to go to school...and I believe that they will turn this commitment into reality. 

As a mom, I have always known that my children were my greatest teachers. As adults, we say we need to be the change we want to see for our children. But now we are seeing that our children are the change. How great that, as a group of students told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press, not only are they committed to seeing reasonable change but also “this is a time for people to come together through love and compassion.” 

Transformational Action Steps 

(1) Watch Emma Gonzalez’s entire speech here

(2) If you are committed to creating change in the areas of gun control and mental health care legislation, contact your congresspeople and representatives and visit websites like Everytown.org and MomsDemandAction.org

(3) On a personal level, look around your life and get honest about: 

Where are you buying into your own BS? What are the excuses, rationalizations, justifications, and BS you buy into, keeping you stuck and limited? 

What have you become intolerant of? What issues, situations, patterns, relationships, or behaviors no longer serve you and are holding you back and keeping you down? 

What action(s) do you need to take to create change? 
 

The Inconvenient Truth

The Inconvenient Truth

In the past few weeks I have been fixated on the news and stories surrounding the world of USA Gymnastics. Like most of us, I have looked on with horror, disbelief, and heartbreak as well as a profound sense of admiration for the 156 women and girls - "the army of survivors" - who shared their victim impact statements and testified against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. I also cheered when Judge Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison and so matter-of-factly said, "It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You don't deserve to walk outside a prison ever again." Just yesterday, Nassar was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in prison after a second sentencing hearing where more than 60 young women and teenagers read or presented victim impact statements. 

Like many of us, I can't help thinking about the other people and organizations involved in this situation who were told or put on notice about Nassar's behavior and did nothing to stop it. Whether it was Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, or private training facilities, I am a huge proponent of the investigations that are and should be conducted as to how these entities and people - these enablers - ignored or mishandled the sexual assault complaints lodged against Nassar. It's chilling to realize that he could have been stopped decades ago. 

Being a mother of three daughters the same age range as many of the women I watched testify, what stops me in my tracks are the victims and survivors who shared that they told their parents what was going on and, for whatever reason, their parents dismissed or minimized what their child was saying and did not advocate or did not advocate strongly enough to put a stop to Nassar's sick, destructive, abusive behavior. 

Although, I would like to think that as a parent I would have listened and taken charge, and now there is no question that I would, 15 years ago when I was a newly divorced, single mother of three girls trying to juggle so many aspects of life, the truth is I don't know how I would have responded...And that haunts me. Doing a good deal of soul searching, I have been asking myself questions like: 

Would I have heard what my child was trying to tell me or trusted authority over age, made excuses for the accused, and belittled my child's understanding of the situation? 

In my zealousness to make my daughters into "strong, empowered" women and/or "to support their dreams," would I have minimized anything that sounded like "whining," "complaining," or "excuses" and encouraged them to barrel through any obstacles or keep their eye on the prize? 

Would I have downplayed, avoided, or not truly listened to what my daughter was telling me because I was more committed to working on a project, trying to nurture a relationship, wanting more time "to do me," or maintaining the status quo? 

Bottom line, no matter what the reason, would I have denied, diminished, discredited, doubted, or dismissed what my child was telling me because it was… an inconvenient truth? 

Although little compares with the horrific circumstances that happened in the Nassar situation, many of us grapple with inconvenient truths in our personal lives all of the time. Whether it is the business partner who wants to deny a colleague's questionable behavior because their net profits are increasing, the spouse that ignores their husband or wife deleting texts and hiding the code on their phone, the person that excuses unhealthy habits because the number on the scale is going down, or the baby boomer that doesn't want to compromise their freedom to take care of an aging parent, many of us turn a blind eye, especially to those inconvenient truths that we don't want to deal with. Denial is a powerful ally and negotiating tool when it comes to combating inconvenient truths. 

In The Integrity Advantage, I talk about denial since it is a huge Integrity Snatcher. I write: 

"Denial seems like a clever place to hide. It keeps us anchored in a seemingly safe harbor where everything is familiar. It may be a mess, but at least it feels familiar! When sheltered by denial, we often interpret threats and problems as benign or pretend that they don't exist. Like all blind spots, we can't see through our denial. It's insidious. But if we are going to live lives of integrity, we must confront our denial. We must recognize that denial keeps us blind to what is and limits our ability to find positive solutions and inspiring possibilities." 

There is usually at least one area of our lives that we are willfully looking the other way, covering something up, suppressing that gnawing feeling inside, or denying an inconvenient truth. And as we are all seeing in stereo in the today's world, it only takes one situation in your life to ruin your entire life. That is why no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be, we all need to take time to listen, to pierce through the trance of denial, and to trust that if something is coming up, whether individually or collectively, it is coming up to be re-examined and dealt with. 

In the end, denying inconvenient truths may be convenient in the short term but, more often than not, that behavior will never lead to long-term fulfillment. Instead it will chip away at our psyche, wanting and needing some attention, until it festers and causes an explosion in our lives. 

Ultimately, as I grapple with this concept of inconvenient truths and where and how I have denied them, I feel incredibly grateful that I did not have to deal with the circumstances that the parents of the "army of survivors" did. Although I, like everyone, wishes this or any horrific, sick situation never happened, we know that they did and do. I am extraordinarily grateful to all these courageous women who spoke so bravely, authentically, and eloquently. Their words act as a reminder to all of us that there are the perpetrators and enablers, and we all need to look at how and where we are and have been that and what we can do differently. 

I, for one, am looking at the stories I tell myself that drive me to want to turn a blind eye or deny a situation since it may be inconvenient to deal with at the time. I know that if I can unconceal and bust through those stories and understand that they are just that – stories I tell myself - then I have the power let go of that story and choose another interpretation for the situation that, instead of repelling me, will compel me to take positive action. Then I can go from imprisoned to empowered, meet whatever situation head on, and be the change I want to see in the world. 

Transformational Action Steps 

(1) Dwell in this conversation about inconvenient truths this week. As you take on this exploration, don't use what you find to beat yourself up. Look through the eyes of fascination and the perspective of promise. 

(2) Look around your life. What are the situations or subjects that you have or that you are denying, diminishing, discrediting, doubting, or dismissing? 

(3) As you find these situations or subjects, let yourself see the stories, beliefs, and fears that cause you to turn a blind eye, deny, and not deal. 

(4) Spend some time journaling about what you get from your denial as well as what the costs of denial. 

(5) Allow yourself to see what would be possible if you dealt with the situation head on. 

(6) Create an action plan for dealing with your inconvenient truths. 

(7) To step into your truth, ground yourself in the fundamentals of an integrity-guided life, and join a supportive online community, sign up for the very special and affordable program I created just for you - The Integrity Advantage Initiation Program. This 4-week online program starts Monday February 12th. 
 

From Monkey Mind To Mindfulness

From Monkey Mind To Mindfulness

Although it feels like New Years was weeks ago, we are still very much in the conversation of "New Year, New You!" Even though every January we tend to engage in a dialogue about what we can do to revamp or upgrade our lives, each year we see a few new concepts or practices added to the "what's trending now" lists. In the past few years, the concept of mindfulness or being mindful has become a crucial part of the self-care conversation. 

From the boardroom to the kindergarten classroom to centers and apps dedicated to the practice, mindfulness trainings are widespread and have become mainstream. Credited with reducing stress and anxiety and having several other physical and mental health benefits, mindfulness is often defined as the practice of bringing your full mind to a singular object or situation or, as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and leader in the field of mindfulness, defines it, mindfulness is "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally." 

Although being totally present to one thing for even five to ten minutes might seem like a no-brainer, for many it is a challenge. Described as a practice that takes practice, many beginners are encouraged to practice mindfulness by bringing their attention to day-to-day activities, even something as simple as drinking a cup of tea or eating food. We are urged to smell the food, taste the food, chew the food, and truly be in the experience of the food. 

Yet for most of us, after the first few seconds, we are no longer savoring the experience but judging it. Our mindfulness has turned to monkey mind, filling our heads with thoughts like:

  • Am I doing this mindfulness thing right?
  • This is crazy.
  • Is this food making me fat?
  • I don't have time to do this! I have a hundred other things on my to-do list.
  • I can't believe I can't be mindful for 30 seconds.
  • I failed mindfulness!

So, what is it that causes us to go from mindfulness to monkey mind in just a matter of minutes? 

Many articles are written about the obstacles people experience when practicing mindfulness. They mention reasons like everyday distractions, being unable to sit still, and growing discouraged as a result of not instantly feeling and seeing the benefits. Although all of these challenges are real, after working with hundreds of people over the years, I believe that the one thing that fills our minds with messiness and minimizes our ability to be mindful are what I call "Integrity Snatchers." Integrity Snatchers are the influences that erode our courage, confidence, capabilities, and sense of calm. They are the culprits that join together in that choir of condemnation, confusion, criticism, and chaos that loops in our heads. They act as a catalyst for self-doubt, self-sabotage, and settling. They propel us out of the present moment as well as any sense of positivity and land us in a minefield of stinking thinking. Specifically, Integrity Snatchers are the shadows that fill our minds and create our internal and external messiness. 

Our shadows -- our shame, fears, insecurities, negative beliefs, and feelings of not enough -- lurk in our unconscious and are incessantly telling us what we can and cannot do and what we should or should not be doing. They drive us to revisit the past and worry about the future. Their consistent and insidious dialogue is what causes the stress and angst that makes mindfulness so necessary. Although practice, patience, and positivity may be a prescription for mastering mindfulnesss, doing shadow work is a surefire remedy for success. 

We have all heard the adage, "What you resist persists." We don't want to make our Integrity Snatchers and our shadows wrong, since that would be making ourselves wrong and just add more fodder to our monkey minds. They are part of our humanity. Yet, as I write in The Integrity Advantage,

"When you become aware of your Integrity Snatchers,
you can remove them from their seat of power."

That's one of the reasons that I always look forward to The Shadow Process, our weekend workshop where people learn to unconceal, make peace with, and integrate their shadows. One of the things that always amazes me about this process is that after the two and a half days, nothing in the outer world of our participants has changed. When they leave the workshop on Sunday, their work situation, bank balance, condition of their body, or state of their relationship with their spouse or mother remains the same. But their relationship with their shadows and themselves has totally shifted and that creates the opening for everything else in their life to evolve and grow! 

The process guides them to see themselves, their past, and the possibilities for their future in a brand new light. They find answers from within that they never knew they had. Suddenly, the negative internal dialogue that has been running their lives is no longer in control. Instead, it is replaced with words of compassion, acceptance, and a sacred knowingness that everything they have endured or experienced is there to support the evolution of their soul and is part of their divine recipe. This new relationship with themselves is nothing short of a revolution that transforms their inner world and has the power to transform their outer world. 

It is this newfound peace of mind which quiets their monkey mind and makes mindfulness a consistent and easily attainable state of mind. Actually, many of our participants tell us that after the process they experience something very foreign - a quiet mind. 

So, if you want to remove the obstacles to mindfulness, yes, practice and patience are key. But I invite you to do shadow work. It will be the catalyst for you to make peace your past and your pessimism so you can unwrap the gifts of the present. 

Transformational Action Steps 

To quiet your monkey mind and master mindfulness, take time to do shadow work. 

(1) Observe the thoughts and beliefs that loop in your brain and chip away at your ability to stay present. Write them down. 

(2) Looking at your list, own that these are just thoughts. 

(3) See how these thoughts have served you or pushed you to be or do more. Find their gifts. 

(4) Identify positive thoughts about yourself that will counterbalance the negative ones. 

(5) To truly accelerate your mindfulness practice, join us at The Shadow Process April 6th to April 8th in Los Angeles. Click here to learn more

Empowering Bad Behavior - #TimesUp Now

Empowering Bad Behavior - #TimesUp Now

Happy New Year! I have been thinking a lot about this first blog post of 2018. In a perfect world, I might be using this post to share with you some profound, uplifting, spiritual experience that I had ringing in the New Year and setting the tone for the upcoming year, but the fact is I cannot. I rang in the New Year experiencing emotions that ranged from horrified, shocked, and speechless to feeling victimized. I was at what I thought was going to be a sweet get-together which quickly got hijacked by the bad behavior of a 40-year old woman who, in a nutshell, was committed to proving that she was right and everyone around her was wrong because they were not adhering to her demands and doing and acting as she wanted them to. Although I've only known this woman for a relatively short time, from what I have seen, this woman's bad behavior had nothing to do with New Year's Eve. It has been on display since the day I met her and from what I have heard from people closest to her, it has always been ever-present in her life – igniting toxicity, trauma, and trouble where ever she goes and with whomever she is with. Yet, just as troubling as this woman's consistent bad behavior has been the reaction of everyone around her. Not wanting to have to "take on her stuff," they let her stuff dictate and infect every move, moment, and mood. That was until New Year's. Seeing the horror, hurt and humiliation reflected in the eyes of people like myself and others who were bystanders as we watched the events of the evening unfold, the people closest to this woman could no longer ignore the proverbial elephant in the living room. It was painfully obvious that the air and joy was being sucked out of the room and that their tendency to choose "harmony" over truth had landed them in hell and empowered bad behavior as well as a negative, venomous presence in the space. 

Interestingly, if I have seen any theme so far in 2018, it has been very much in keeping with the one I just described. I have already received numerous calls and messages from people who can no longer tolerate accepting or enduring the bad or inappropriate behavior of others to rule the roost, be it their children, spouses, co-workers, employers, or friends. They've had it with living in denial, turning a blind eye, trying to make it better, or being blinded by their own wishful thinking. The cost of living in an environment of constant judgment, righteousness, and pessimism has not only brought them down, but also been downright depleting. 

Yet what I also found fascinating is that just as I watched the people I was with on New Year's Eve declare "No more!" to the unacceptable behavior in their space, I woke up on New Year's Day to learn about the Time's Up movement. This is a movement started by women in the entertainment industry committed to supporting women everywhere in acknowledging that "the clock is running out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace." Beyond everything I read on their website, I love their meme on social media that read "TIME'S UP on silence. TIME'S UP on waiting. TIME'S UP on tolerating discrimination, harassment, and abuse." 

Watching the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night, I could feel the relevance and magnitude of this conversation and the energy and tone the Golden Globes set in truly presencing this conversation as a defining moment of change and a celebration of what’s to come. It was an extraordinary moment watching so many women and men declare #TimesUp on being silent, tolerating discrimination, and sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. It was also an extraordinary moment watching people in support of one another and standing in what is in the highest for all. I love that there were no “worst-dressed lists” and instead a focus on truth, respect, integrity, and the possibilities for a better tomorrow. 

I realize that the Time's Up movement has a certain focus and intention and I honor that 110%. And it's inspired me to think even bigger. I look at the experience I had on New Year's Eve as well as the other stories I have been hearing this past week and believe that the "Time's Up" way of thinking applies to pretty much everything. For me, time's up on tolerating unacceptable behavior or being violated by any man or woman! Time's up on spewing judgment and negativity. Time's up on misusing power to control. And on the other hand, time's up on remaining silent, perpetuating denial, and avoiding conflict at the cost of creating chaos. The fact is choosing truth over harmony, although might be 'inconvenient" at first, will ultimately create more and sustainable harmony, so...Time's Up on empowering bad behavior! 

When I pointed this out to one of the people I was with on New Year's Eve, they asked, "How do I start?" I referred them to the first step of the seven-step process that I write about in The Integrity Advantage and told them, "You start by 'Getting Naked.'" In the book, I write:

No, the first step in the Integrity Process isn't being an exhibitionist. It's about facing the truth. It's about revealing what you've been covering up for so long. It's time to strip down, peel off the layers of protection, and break through the illusions that obscure the truth of what's going on. It's time for radical honesty. 

If a wound is going to heal, if change is going to happen, then the bandage that you have worn for years that is "holding things together" needs to be ripped off! 

We think that ignoring the truth protects us from it. But it's our resistance to the truth, our resistance to what is, that is the glue that keeps us stuck and in pain. Denial seems like a clever place to hide. It keeps us anchored in a seemingly safe harbor where everything is familiar. It may be a mess, but at least it feels familiar! When sheltered by denial, we often interpret threats and problems as benign or pretend that they don't exist. Like all blind spots, we can't see through our denial. It's insidious. But if we are going to live lives of integrity, we must confront our denial. We must recognize that denial keeps us blind to what is and limits our ability to find positive solutions and inspiring possibilities. 
 

Whether we are talking about situations in our own world like a friend, family member, or co-worker acting inappropriately or the topics that are being brought to the forefront of a global conversation like sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace, "it is time to operate in reality rather than to live in the trance of denial. 

So, in the world and in our own lives, I encourage you to step into living by the bar of "Time's Up!" Time's Up for settling, stepping over your truth, accepting the unacceptable, avoiding the elephant in the room, empowering bad behavior, and denying your wants and desires. We all are deserving of setting boundaries, putting ourselves on the top of our to-do list, and living a great life. 

And if you, like me, feel ready and committed to bust through any BS as well as anything that no longer serves you or the world, then I invite you to join The Integrity Movement and participate in The 21-Day Integrity Challenge that we're starting on Wednesday January 10th. 

Much like a detox for your life, The 21-Day Integrity Challenge is a day-by-day, step-by-step guide that will aid you getting radically honest with yourself and those around you and cleaning up the ways you have been out of integrity so you will feel empowered, worthy and ready to own that you are whole and complete and to live in alignment with your deepest truths and grandest desires. 

When you make yourself matter so will those around you. Start by being the change you want to see in the world, cleaning up and clearing out any integrity issues or emotional baggage that may be weighing you down, and watch the impact it has on your life and the world around you. 

Transformational Action Steps 

(1) Join The Integrity Movement by signing up for the The 21-Day Integrity Challenge

(2) Look around your life and really dwell in the question "Am I empowering the bad behavior of others?" 

(3) If you see that you are, ask yourself these questions:

- What am I getting out of empowering the bad behavior of others? i.e., Do I get to avoid conflict, play the victim, give myself an excuse to run away, etc.?

- What is the cost of empowering the bad behavior of others?

- What would I do, not do, say, not say, accept, or not accept if I was being radically honest?

(4) Step into living by the bar of "Time's Up." What will you no longer tolerate, or stay silent about? Find out more about the Time's Up movement by visiting their website

(5) Commit to a profoundly transformational 2018 by joining Radical Reinvention, a 12-week goal-oriented online program you can do from the comfort of your own home starting Monday January 15th. 

A New Year's Ritual

A New Year's Ritual

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. 2018 offers all of us a new beginning! 

We're excited to share with you Debbie Ford's 2008 New Year's Ritual (with a few updates) 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. We hope you'll join us for The 21-Day Integrity Challenge to kick off the new year. (You can read more about that below the ritual.) We look forward to continuing to support you in 2018. 

With love,
Kelley


A New Year's Ritual
by Debbie Ford

This morning in my meditation, I thought about all the people I love, of course all of you -- and this was the message that came to me to deliver to you. I hope it nourishes you as much as it did me. 

Every New Year’s Eve, we make resolutions that this year will finally be different. We vow that this is the year we will land that new job, get in great shape, find the man of our dreams, or quit smoking. We spend our days thinking, talking, and dreaming about what our lives could be like 'if only ...'. We follow a new diet, we start exercise routines – we begin working on our lifelong goals and then we give up, get too busy, and forget about what's truly important to us. Another year passes by and our dreams remain out of reach. 

From leading thousands of people through the transformational process, I can assure you of this. Although people think they're chasing a goal that may or may not happen, the truth is they are chasing the feelingthey think they'll have when their dreams come true. Really breathe that in. What you are craving is not the outside goodie — the new career, the fit body, the loving family — but the feeling that you think you'll experience when you get it. 

The great news is that you don't have to wait to feel that feeling. You can feel that way right now. Every feeling that exists - all these levels of consciousness, frequencies, and vibrations - exist inside of us right now. Our job is just to activate them. When you feel the feelings you most desire, you're more likely to achieve the goals and dreams you have for your life. 

Here is a ritual to support you in discovering that the life you've always wanted is right in front of you, well within your grasp. Take some time to journal and answer these questions.

  1. What is one feeling you most want to explore or align with this coming year? What feeling would be worth giving up old patterns, behaviors, opinions, beliefs, thoughts, and judgments? To help pick your feeling, I recommend you find a "feelings list" online to prompt yourself. Or you can think of a goal you've wanted to achieve and then ask yourself "How would I feel if I achieved that goal?" Even if it seems challenging, for the purposes of this ritual, make sure to pick just ONE feeling you MOST want to feel in 2018. Write it down. 
     
  2. Reflect on how this feeling would push you to take risks and step into your next highest expression. How would you act differently if you were living a life grounded in that feeling? What would be different in your world? Write it out in great detail. 
     
  3. Let yourself see how your alignment with this feeling could serve the greater whole. How would it help those around you? What would you be able to do if you felt this feeling? Make some notes. 
     
  4. Call forth three images that evoke this feeling, images you can revisit to ensure that you're living on that frequency this year. For example, if you want peace, you might see an image of a still lake, a person in meditation, or people holding hands. Allow yourself to see three images that will anchor you in the feeling you most desire. 
     
  5. Identify what this feeling would smell like. What smell would you most associate with what you've chosen? (Hint: You might want to pick your favorite smell since I'm going to ask you to get it and smell it every day!) 
     
  6. Select a color that most reminds you of this feeling. What color would best evoke the feeling you've chosen? 
     
  7. Find a phrase -- an expression, a line in a prayer, a part of a poem, or something you write yourself. For peace, for example, it could be "Be still and know that I am G-d." 
     
  8. Pick two synonyms for the feeling. For peace, for example, you might pick "serenity" and "contentment." 
     
  9. Choose a song that matches the feeling you want. Go through your music library or put your word into the iTunes store. Find yourself a theme song for the year. 
     
  10. See two behaviors that you can do every week this year that would bring forth the feeling inside of you. For peace, it might be going for a walk in a park near your home, going to pray in a spot that you like, or reading part of a book. 
     
  11. Find a beautiful piece of paper or notebook. In your best handwriting (or most beautiful font on your computer), write out all these details -- the images, the smell, the color, the phrase, the synonyms, the song, and the behaviors. Make copies of your list and put them around the house so you will be reminded. 
     
  12. Finally, at least for the next 21 days straight and ideally each and every day of the new year, spend a minimum of two minutes at the beginning of the day and before you go to bed holding that piece of paper, reviewing your list, listening to the song, smelling the smell, repeating the phrase. Bring yourself into the presence of the frequency. Feel the vibration. Bask in that feeling. Close your eyes and ask the powers that be to support you in bringing forth the highest expression of the state of being you have chosen.

I promise that when you live your life this way, you won't have to worry about your resolutions or your goals. You'll get everything that your heart desires. 

As you start a new year, know that I am wishing you a fantastic year. May all your dreams come true. 
 

 


Have You Joined The 21-Day Integrity Challenge Yet?

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One simple action can change everything. In The 21-Day Integrity Challenge starting on Wednesday January 10th, you will enter into a conversation where each day you will be invited to a look at an aspect of your life to determine if there is anything that needs to be re-examined, released, replaced, resolved, or reignited. 

Each day you'll receive an email in your inbox with your challenge for the day. You will be invited to engage in different inquiries, actions, and practices to cultivate integrity. You'll also have access to a private Facebook group where you can share your progress and support your fellow members with ideas and inspiration. 

Don't miss this day-by-day, step-by-step guide that will aid you in shedding and cleaning up the ways you have been out of integrity so you will feel empowered, worthy, and ready to own that you are whole and complete and to live in alignment with your deepest truths and grandest desires.

Join The 21-Day Integrity Challenge