Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

Start Taking Control of Your Life Today!

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

Have you ever wondered about what your driving force is?

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

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

What’s Really Controlling Your Life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claim Your Shadow and Your Life

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

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

Now it’s your turn.

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

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

STOP…Looking for Permission!

STOP…Looking for Permission!

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

  • seeking counsel from therapists and coaches,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are no medals for learning to accept the unacceptable.

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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


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Self-Love For Valentine's Day!

Self-Love For Valentine's Day!

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

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

  • not in a relationship and feeling like a loser,

  • mending a broken heart and pining over lost love,

  • feeling alone in a loveless relationship,

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

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

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

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

Tip #1: Foster Your Uniqueness

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

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

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

Tip #2: Change Your Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #3: Take On Filling Your Own Cup

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

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

  • What are those that don’t?

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

Breaking Out Of The Cage Of Fear

Breaking Out Of The Cage Of Fear

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

  • They want to date but fear getting hurt. 

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

  • They yearn for connection but fear rejection.

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

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


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

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

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

1. Identify your fear and understand its origin.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.
Bust your fear.

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

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

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

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

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

3.  Walk yourself through your greatest fears.

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

  • had our hearts broken,

  • lost loved ones,

  • “failed” at new ventures,

  • been embarrassed or judged publicly,

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

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

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

1.    I know I will be fine!

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

When you are feeling frozen by fear, try:

1. Identifying your fear and understanding its origin. 

2. Busting your fear.

3. Walking yourself through your greatest fears.

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

What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

What Are You Consciously Walking Toward?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

A New Year's Ritual

A New Year's Ritual

Happy New Year!

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

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

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


A New Year's Ritual 
by Debbie Ford

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

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

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

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

The Ritual 

Part One: Your False Self 

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

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

  • the stories you tell yourself inside of your mind

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

  • your ego's grudges and resentments

  • your regrets

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

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

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

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

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

Part Two: Your Holy Self 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part Three: How Will You Live This Year? 

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

  • Are you healthy?

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps 

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Holiday Blessing

A Holiday Blessing

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

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

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

A BLESSING FOR YOUR FUTURE
by Debbie Ford

Divine Spirit
thank you for giving me the capacity for wholeness

Thank you for this very precious moment

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

A moment that inspires thoughts of a greater future

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

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

A future that is filled with abundance and miracles

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

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

Today I accept my worth and my worthiness

And so it is 

Families Are Messy!

Families Are Messy!

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

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

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

  • Siblings that no longer speak to each other,

  • Adult children who are estranged from their parents, 

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

  • Blended families who can’t stand each other.

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

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

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

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

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

The fact is….Families are messy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

December – The Month of Saying “Yes!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. To let the Universe lead.

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

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

As Debbie Ford writes in Spiritual Divorce,

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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

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

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

What Do You Need To Weigh In On?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

(2) Dwell in:

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

  • The costs your avoidance

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

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

What Superhero Are You?

What Superhero Are You?

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

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

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

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

The fact is that we all have superpowers!

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

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

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

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

Transformational Action Steps

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

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

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