What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

A New Year's Ritual

A New Year's Ritual

Happy New Year!

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

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

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


A New Year's Ritual 
by Debbie Ford

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

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

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

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

The Ritual 

Part One: Your False Self 

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

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

  • the stories you tell yourself inside of your mind

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

  • your ego's grudges and resentments

  • your regrets

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

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

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

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

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

Part Two: Your Holy Self 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part Three: How Will You Live This Year? 

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

  • Are you healthy?

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Holiday Blessing

A Holiday Blessing

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

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

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

A BLESSING FOR YOUR FUTURE
by Debbie Ford

Divine Spirit
thank you for giving me the capacity for wholeness

Thank you for this very precious moment

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

A moment that inspires thoughts of a greater future

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

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

A future that is filled with abundance and miracles

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

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

Today I accept my worth and my worthiness

And so it is 

Families Are Messy!

Families Are Messy!

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

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

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

  • Siblings that no longer speak to each other,

  • Adult children who are estranged from their parents, 

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

  • Blended families who can’t stand each other.

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

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

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

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

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

The fact is….Families are messy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. To let the Universe lead.

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

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

As Debbie Ford writes in Spiritual Divorce,

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

(2) Dwell in:

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

  • The costs your avoidance

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

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

What Superhero Are You?

What Superhero Are You?

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

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

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

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

The fact is that we all have superpowers!

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

I Don't Want To Be That Person!

I Don't Want To Be That Person!

This morning I was working out with a friend who was telling me a story about how he went to a quintessential Cuban cafe for breakfast.  Although he used his best Spanish to order, they ended up giving him the wrong kind of steak with his eggs.  Now my friend, who is dedicated to health and fitness, is vigilant about what he puts into his body and eating clean. When I asked him if he sent his meal back, he shrugged his shoulders and replied,

“No. I don’t want to be that person.”

Being raised around people who sent things back at restaurants, got upset if the service was slow, or took it personally if they didn’t get “the right” table, I vowed at an early age not to be a complainer.  I, like many of us, have played the role of the meal martyr and tolerated underwhelming service, waiters getting my order wrong (you know, the whole “no croutons, dressing on the side” thing), and my biggest pet-peeve - cold food, just because I didn’t want to be that person! 

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have sat silent, fought with ourselves about whether to say something or send something back or not, and paid for things we did not order because we didn’t want to be that person.  Our fear and worry about being judged or labeled as a complainer, spoiled, entitled, or a pain in the butt has caused us to bite our tongue and swallow our integrity along with an order of food we didn’t want or care for. 

But what would be possible if we could make peace with the fact that we ARE that person?

Would we be able to speak up?

Our shadows are the parts of ourselves that we deny, disown, and don’t like.  Not wanting to be seen as a certain way, we tend to overcompensate for that which we don’t want to be.  So we dumb down who we are and create personas to prove to ourselves and the world that we are not the people we judge.   Even when it comes to sending back a meal at a restaurant, our shadows strip us of our power and cause us to betray our truth. 

Shadow work is based on the concept of wholeness. Doing shadow work, we learn that we no longer have to worry about being that person.  Why? Because we are that person.  We are all that person…and that person…and that person - we are everything. 

Whether we realize it or not, or want to admit it or not, the fact is that inside of each of us is every quality, trait, and emotion that we see in others.  And not only do we need to own we are everything - every quality, trait, and emotion - so that we can feel whole and complete, but also if you want to be the fullest and most authentic expression of who you are in the outer world, then you need to own all that you are in your inner world. 

Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.  If you are only owning 25, 50, or 75 percent of who you are internally, then that is what you will be able to manifest externally.  By owning that you are that person and that every quality, trait, and emotion lives inside of you, you gain access to that quality.

And it is when you gain access to a quality that you reclaim your power of choice.

You can choose whether to display the quality or not and it is in that choice that you then you are able to respond to a situation from a place of empowerment as opposed to fear. 

You get to choose:

·      Will it serve me to speak up or not?

·      Am I deserving of getting what I ordered or should I just eat what the server brought me?

·      Do I value my time by asking about the long wait or do I sit here and let my schedule get derailed?

So, this week I invite you to own that you are that person!  You are a complainer and you are as considerate as can be.  You are spoiled and humble, entitled and generous, judgmental and compassionate, selfish and selfless, and a pain in the butt as well as a pleasure to be with!

Owning that not only are you in the world but the world is within you will support you in not only bringing your full self to every moment of your life, but also as the Burger King slogan says,  “Have it your way.”

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Listen for that voice inside your head that says “I am not that person.” “I don’t want to be that person.” “I am not like them.”

(2) Then ask yourself:

  1. What is the quality that I see in them that I don’t want to be?

  2. How have I (or could I) demonstrated that quality?

  3.  What could be the benefits of being able to demonstrate that quality?  How could it serve me?

  4.  What has been the cost of pushing that quality down or trying to overcompensate for it?

(3) Take an action step that will support you in integrating and befriending that quality and have fun doing it!

You Are Not Your Shame

You Are Not Your Shame

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of leading two transformational weekend workshops. I am always in awe of what an honor it is to be invited into people’s lives and have them share so openly about their past as well as the honest and raw feelings they have about themselves and their lives. Of course, we are also seeing so much of this in today’s culture – people, especially women, coming forward and sharing about the assaults, attacks, abuse, and secrets that they have not wanted, been able, or felt ready to share.

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

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

In The Integrity Advantage, I write,

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

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

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

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

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

“The only way out is through.”

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

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.