How to Overcome “Imposter Syndrome” and Believe in Yourself!

By Erin Cox

self-confidenceYou’ve done it. You’ve finally achieved one of your biggest, greatest goals and it feels amazing! You’re flying high, and life is glorious! And then…something happens that shakes your confidence. The ugly, negative self-talk starts to creep in, saying, “you don’t belong here,” or “you don’t deserve this,” or “everyone is going to see right through you,” or “who do you think you are?”

How do I know these horrible statements? Because I’ve asked myself every one of them at one point or another over the past year.

I’d left a career where I’d felt confident and knew where I stood. It was… well, boring. I was no longer pushed out of my comfort zone. Then I quit and entered the world of being a writer and speaker. I’ve never felt more alive, free, joyful… and fearful of not being “good enough.”

While heading author’s cocktail party at my first Hay House I Can Do It speaking engagement, I had to repeat in my head, “I belong here” dozens of times as I met authors whose books rocked my world, like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Dr. Robert Holden, and Anita Moorjani. I felt like there was no way I could measure up to those amazing people or even deserve to be in their presence. Self-doubt crept in and nearly took over… but my true voice, that powerful voice within, came through for me. I went in, head held high, took some deep breaths, and had some of the most amazing and meaningful conversations of my life.

Self-affirmation has to become a practice. You deserve all the amazing things in your life. You truly ARE worthy!

Self doubt and having moments of feeling like an imposter happens to everyone, and I mean everyone! Think of the most accomplished and successful person you know. Yep, they’ve felt that way too. It’s human nature.

Here’s what you can do today to believe in yourself and know you completely deserve all the wonderful things that you have experienced and are doing to experience:

1)   Write down the top three accomplishments that you are most proud of, and under each, describe how hard you had to work and what you had to sacrifice to achieve of those amazing things. Let it sink in how very much you deserved every one of them!

2)   Come up with a positive affirmation to combat the statements of self-doubt that pop into your head. So, if the thought, “What if they find out I’m an imposter and I don’t deserve this?” creeps into your head, then write down affirmations such as:  I am worthy, I am enough, I am talented, or I deserve this. Find what most directly combats your thoughts of self-doubt. Write it down and read it countless times each day.

3)   When in a place where you feel insecure or out of place, start repeating in your head, “I belong here.” Then reach out to one person at a time and connect when each person as an individual. Don’t beeline for the most important person in the room, but rather connect with whomever you are most drawn to! Once you are comfortable and in your zone, feel free to casually walk over to the “big shots” in the room and give them a sincere compliment. That should start a nice conversation right there!

Everyone struggles with self-doubt from time to time, and awareness is the first step to overcoming this pervasive problem. Once you are aware, you can come up with a strategy to reassure yourself that you are exactly where you belong. Let go of your ego and strive to become more fully and authentically yourself, and these feeling will slowly dissipate. In moments of weakness or self-doubt, try the three tips I mentioned here and keep moving forward.

Have you ever struggled with feeling like an imposter? What strategies do you use to overcome self-doubt? Please share below!

A Recipe for Being Your Best Ever You

620516_15148005This recipe has been passed from generation to generation and is one of our world favorites.  You may not need all of the ingredients to make this recipe, so mix up some of the items on a daily basis and follow the instructions below.

 

 
Items Needed:
You
20 Cups of Laughter
15 Cups of Grace
10 Cups of Peace
10 Cups of Love
7 Cups of Elegance
5 Cups of Courage
3 Cups of Patience
1 1/2 Cups of Determination
1 1/2 Cups of Acceptance
1 Cup of Humility
1 Cup of Confidence
1 tsp. of wisdom
1 pinch of reality

Allergy Alert: This product was not manufactured in a facility with any fear, jealousy or doubt.

Step 1.  Stop thinking everyone else has it better  
You know it when you think it: “They drive a cleaner car, have more cash in the bank, have a bigger shoe collection, a better job, a book deal, a better body, a new baby,” or whatever else you may appear to see or think you see or assume is true of someone else’s life.  Everyone’s life around the world appears to be perfect with the exception of yours. There are days when you might catch yourself glancing at the marks on your walls thinking the house across the street is perfectly unscathed. But whose reality are you really seeing? Upon closer inspection, you will likely discover that no one’s life is perfect and for every cleanest, best waxed car ever there is a crumb somewhere else.  So it is important to focus on yourself and only yourself with respect to your own life and world and to evaluate ONLY how you are doing in this life of yours.   We keep the word perfect out of our vocabulary here at Best Ever You.  It says Best Ever You, not Perfect Ever You.

Step 2. Moments Matter
How are you using your precious time?  Are you living a life awake, aware and with purpose and intention or are you just moseying along? Are you in the present moment or are you in some future moment of worry or some past moment of regret or trying to reclaim a past glory moment.  Nothing is worse than missing a moment. Think of the parent on the ever so important phone call or sitting at the computer as their child is trying desperately in any way to grab a moment of their real presence and attention, but the parent just nods and barely acknowledges the child or worse gets angry at the child.  Think of the moments you wish you could steal back and replay with your parent or parents who have now passed. Think of the moments you wish you could bring back when your kids were younger.  Life is a priority.

3. Find Your Why
It takes a look within to learn and practice and be your Best Ever You. It is important to understand that it is a continuous process.  There is always a moment to be your best or help someone be their best. When we become engaged, consumed or perhaps overwhelmed with life’s responsibilities it is easy to let ourselves slip into the behaviors or habits that are less than our best. We live our daily lives facing a continuum between best and stressed. Our environment can become cluttered, we may not sleep as well, we may make choices that reduce our positive energy and generates more of a stress based response to our daily life. These are all clues that something needs to shift. If we took a minute to write out what our life looks and feels like when we are feeling our best we would find there are indicators that we can follow to monitor our well-being.

Stop and think.  What is your reason?  What is your why?   What inspires and motivates you?

4. Examine Your Positive Self
When you look in the mirror, what do you say?  When you are in a room are full of people, what are you thinking or how do you behave? Are you spewing venom on yourself and killing your self-esteem.  Quick. Find the antidote.  It’s the power of positive thinking.  Inject yourself with powerful positive language and live on.  Say positive thoughts and words like “I am beautiful.” “I am loved.” “I am capable.” “I accept myself.” and “I am worthy.”

5.  Create Your Best Life 
Each day, each hour, and each moment we have the opportunity to stop and to reassess how we are feeling and start over. Examine the areas of your life that you wish were different and begin each moment to be your best. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and receive our free Create Your Best Life Coaching tool. Visit this link to get started. http://www.besteveryou.com/get-started-create-your-best-life.htm This will help you identify those key areas that create stress versus joy.  What changes are you going to focus on? Here are some clues that some specific areas of your life need attention:
-Physical environment: Is it cluttered or neat and organized?
-Physical health: Are we eating, sleeping, and exercising?
-Emotional reactivity: Do we have the ability to calmly respond versus react? What is the status of relationships? What’s you fun factor?
-Spiritual energy: Is there something meaningful and purposeful in our lives? Are we inspired?
-Social: Are we engaging with others? Do we have a sense of community?

6.  Discover Your Values and Create a Value System for Yourself
This can be tricky as we age, as the values that we were raised with may not be the values we grow into.  Our lives and our value systems are dynamic and change. What values do you have that direct your big picture decisions? If someone gave you a limited life expectancy would you be able to say you are living today, the way you would want to for the remainder of your life? What would change? What do you want your children to understand as most important or what do you want people to remember most about you? These questions alert us to whether or not our values are aligned with our actions and lifestyle. If values aren’t aligned, asking ourselves what is true to who we are, can redirect us and bring new awareness to what we seek to change.

7. Practice Wellness
How well are you taking care of yourself? Are you treating yourself well? What is wellness to you? Do you feel fit? Are you satisfied with how you feel? Are you eating well?  Are you exercising?  Are you stepping into your closet and having a cringe-factor moment where nothing fits? Practice wellness.  It may be part of a new value system you implement for yourself.  Practicing overall wellness has more components that just your jeans fitting on any given day.  Wellness is an overall way of choosing to live.  It’s eating healthier, mindset, exercise, and finding a way for yourself where the internal critical and worrying voice(s) quiet.  It’s being ready for the big event now, for example, instead of seeing the event six months down the road and going on a crash diet for it.  It’s a way of always being. It’s practicing wellness habits that help you feel your best each day.

8.  Discover the Power of We and Us
The power of we begins with you. We think you are amazing and awesome in every way, but life is not all about you.  It’s about us – together.  Ask someone today, “How can I help you?”  You’ll be amazed at the responses.

-What have you done for the world lately?
-Are you showing up when you are needed?
-How often do you do something for others just because you want to – not because it’s expected?
-Do you do things for others and expect nothing in return?
-Do you turn off that voice that nags at you when you can’t believe you did something for someone, but they did nothing for you in return?

9. Manage your behavior(s)
Who we truly are at our best is often reflected in how we behave. Does our behavior match our values? Do we respond to situations versus react? Are we generous and understanding versus critical and judgmental? We usually operate somewhere on a continuum each day depending on how calm and aware we are of what our wise inner voice is saying. When we aren’t able to hear that highest self-talk, we often neglect our self-care and turn to external calming sources. When we have tendency towards over-indulging it is usually triggered by this imbalance and not hearing our wisest messages coming from within. Quiet awareness and examination of our daily circumstances and their influence on our behavior can help us get back into focus of our best self.

10. Failure & Pain are Teaching Moments
How many times have you stopped yourself from trying something because you were afraid you wouldn’t be good enough? How many times have you hit your thigh on the corner of a drawer before you walk a different route or stop, pause and shut the drawer first in awareness that it is open and you’ve been through this before?  We learn from failure or disappointment.  Moments can be wake up calls and it is important to tune in, listen and adjust your life and behavior accordingly.

On a deeper level, when we pass through a crisis that brings fear and anxiety and sadness or whatever strong emotions that come, eventually, the realization that we can learn something and be a better us from the experience comes to us. The sooner we quietly assess a situation from a place of strength, the sooner we make the best choices for our lives.

 11. Laugh at Yourself
Have you laughed at yourself today?  We are each our own stand-up comedian routine if you stop and think about how funny life can be.  Sometimes there is even humor in the darkest of moments and sometimes that humor guides us to see the brightest days.  Laugh at yourself.  We all do some of the silliest things.

12. Surround Yourself with Love 
Side step naysayers.  With even the slightest of change, comes a force around you trying to help you stay your very best same as always person.  You may think to yourself one day, “Self, I just don’t want to be this way anymore.” As a result, you start to make changes.

Naysayers are people who make fun of you or try to stop you from making changes or who want you to give up. They may not even know how they are as sabotaging your efforts because they are out of touch with their own struggles. They’re often people who are trying to break the cycle themselves or have yet to acknowledge their habits. They aren’t wrong to think the way they do, but their thoughts just don’t fit yours anymore. Breaking free from their influence can be difficult. The only cook that needs to be in the kitchen is you.

13. Make Small Lasting Changes
Take one thing – a thought, an idea, a value, or a belief – and make that one thing a focus point. Allow yourself ten minutes each day in silence to write, think, or ponder whatever thoughts come up around this one thought or idea. It’s amazing how just one small change can have an everlasting ripple effect leading to bigger changes. Many people make repeated attempts, create resolutions, and demonstrate efforts to try to bring themselves to center. This generally doesn’t work well and usually the opposite effect occurs. In order to create lasting, transformative change, usually you must find your center and then adjust your lifestyle.

14. Find Your Best, Most Peaceful You
Peace rests within your heart. When your heart speaks, it is very important to tune in and listen. It’s your own internal peace guidance system.  Find what makes you peaceful. Just be YOU. No one can take you away from you.  You are you.  We are each unique with our own special talents and gifts.  Who are you?  What is your: Who? What? Where? When? and Why?

15. Figure out What Money Can and Can’t Buy
Money can’t keep you alive forever. Money has a deceiving way of appearing to make our time here easier.  Does money buy love?  Money buys things, but do things matter?  Are you better than someone else or is someone better than you because of their things and money?  Does money buy better behavior and peace within? Truly, does the person with the most toys win?  Does the lack of money cause you to not get the attention or recognition you need as a person?

Just what is the point of money?

It’s a discussion with ourselves that not many of us have and yet it remains one of the most argued about topics around us.  From governments to your own home, money is a battle ground topic. Are we here today to help make the world a little bit better than when we leave it or are we here to just take, take, take and never give?

For many people, money is a source of always wanting more.  You can always hear folks saying, “If only I had $450,000, I could……  If only I had $1,000,000 I would…”

Handling and dealing with money issues starts with a belief that it can be better, no matter what is happening in your life such as job promotions, inheritance, job loss, wage cuts, downsizing or ill health.

Regardless of financial situation or circumstances there are many different ways to find happiness.

Giving away our power to be happy based on any one thing only defeats us. It’s not about our money. It’s about how we make meaning from our circumstances and how we direct our energy. Some of the most generous people in the world barely have enough to eat, but they share what they have.

Money is really a compound issue of wants combined with reality combined with circumstances all mixing together to make you a manager of money whether you like it or not.

How are your money managing skills?
Think about your real life needs for a moment.
Today I have ____________.
I’d like to set a goal of earning ________________.
Specifically, I am going to do that by doing _________________.

Then each year, these sentences grow, change and alter with another set of circumstances invading those sentences called LIFE.

My reality today is that I got promoted at work and I can _______________.
My reality today is that I received an unexpected bonus and I can ____________.
My reality today is that I am in the hospital and actually spending ____________ rather than me earning ___________.
My reality today is that my septic tank broke resulting in a bill of ____________.
My reality today is that my child is going to college next year, resulting in a bill of ________________________________________. (Notice that line is longer than the others!!)

You can see how complicated money is and how we use it. Think about your life with respect to money, what you dream, what you need, what you want and what you actually have and how you manage that and find happiness within.

RECIPE NOTES: 
Your favorite family recipes are passed from generation to generation.
The recipe cards are tattered, torn or sometimes so secret they are memorized.
Excellent recipes remain with us and feed our mind, body and spirit, creating our best.

Three Essentials

3Skincare

1. Dry Brush

2. Body Oil

3. Epsom Salt 

The best way to use these three essentials is in a row. First you dry brush, then apply the body oil (such as Almond), then take an Epsom salt bath. It seems a strange to use oil before a bath or shower but in Ayurveda, an ancient art of healing from India, this is recommended as a self massage in their Abhyanga treatment, a healing technique, improving circulation and calming the nervous system. Dry brushing allows you to eliminate those shower gloves and body scrubs. A dry brush exfoliates your skin gently by brushing toward your heart on dry skin, improving circulation and cellulite as well. These two simple steps of dry brushing and oiling are recommended as a daily routine. An Epsom salt bath, on the other hand, may not be practical for everyday but should be part of your weekly routine. Epsom salt alleviates sore muscles and inflammation as well as detoxifies. A great way to top off this simple foundation of body care is add fresh lemon wedges to your water to help alkaline your PH and hydrate your body.

Royal Baby and Attachment Style

photo_6343_20080618Hello,
As I write this from the UK, we are all waiting with baited breath as the Duchess of Cambridge is in labor at St. Mary’s Hospital with Prince William by her side. Later today, I plan to take my kids over to Buckingham Palace to read the birth announcement the Queen is set to post. New babies always make me think about attachment and how crucial the child parent bond is to future romantic attachments. As Linda Hatch says in her PsychCentral.com blog,  “We repeat in adulthood whatever we did to get love as a child.” Let’s hope the Royal family practices attachment parenting. The good news for the rest of us is that attachment injuries can be healed through therapy and sound relationship choices.

– Dr. Wendy Walsh

The Something More Factor

Hay House Author Barbara CarellisDo you have an unnameable yearning? A longing that lurks in the back of your brain or deep in your belly that just can’t be expressed in words? Do you have a deep undefined desire for “Something More”?

When I first began teaching my sex and spirituality workshops, I’d ask people, “What are your orgasms like now and what would make them better?” The vast majority of people answered the second part of that question with some variation of: “I know there’s Something More out there. I want to be able to let go and find it.” I named this universal longing the Something More Factor.

The Something More Factor is what drives us all in erotic—and spiritual—exploration. The crucial first step to finding your Something More is permission—permission to look beyond what you have now for something new and exciting, yet authentically you. This permission can come from you or from some higher authority. But even if your family, society, spiritual community and school all encourage you to find Something More, you still must be able and willing to give yourself permission to go find it.

The next step is believing that your Something More is real and possible. In 1989, author Louise Hay delivered a talk called the Totality of Possibilities. In it, she gave us permission—and encouraged us to give ourselves permission—to release old beliefs and fears. In doing so, she, said, we would see that the limited set of possibilities we thought was available to us was a fantasy. In reality, we have an infinite number of possibilities to choose from—the Totality of Possibilities.

Liberating as the Totality of Possibilities can be, the notion of unlimited possibilities can also be frightening, especially when it comes to sex and relationships. The Totality of Possibilities inevitably includes a number of sexual activities, types of people and styles of relationships that you may have absolutely no interest in. How do you sort through the Totality of Possibilities of sex and relationships to find the ones that are right for you? How do you avoid the options you would hate? And, is it worth disrupting the flow of your life to look for these possibilities?

Many of us settle for “good enough” in one or more areas of our lives. We find a stable job, a nice place to live and a committed relationship, and then stop. We tell ourselves, “My life is not so bad. I have a roof over my head and someone to curl up with at night. Why should I risk losing any of that? There’s no guarantee I’ll find something better.” It’s this fear of the unknown—specifically the unwanted unknown—that can keep us stuck in the same old rut, doing the same old thing and getting increasingly bored and dissatisfied.

What if your pursuit of your Something More could make every aspect of your life more fulfilling? What if it could make you not only a happier person, but also a better person? And what if the only thing standing between you and an ecstatic life is fear and limited thinking?

Perhaps you know what your Something More actually is. Perhaps you long for more fulfilling sex, a new relationship, or a more rewarding career. Even if your Something More still seems vague, simply staying present with the longing to have more ecstasy in your life can work wonders.

Here’s a 4-step plan for discovering and manifesting your Something More:

  1. Cultivate a consciousness of abundance. Imagine that there is a ceiling above you. Below the ceiling is everything that you believe is possible for you. Above the ceiling is the Totality of Possibilities. Practice lifting or shattering this ceiling. Each time you lift or shatter the ceiling, embrace the new Totality of Possibilities that is revealed. Find the next ceiling. Repeat.
  2. Breathe. Practice taking full, deep breaths. With each breath imagine breathing in new possibilities and breathing out fear. Use your breath to feel bigger, stronger, and more eager to experience ecstasy.
  3. Write yourself a permission slip. Give yourself written permission to have the kind of sex you want, or the great relationship, or the new job. Be very detailed. Give yourself permission to have every juicy bit of your desire. If you find it challenging to give your self this much permission, imagine being given that permission by someone you love and respect, or by your wise higher self.
  4. Cultivate the qualities of an ecstatic explorer. People who are able to find their Something More on a regular basis are compassionate, courageous, creative, curious, desiring, enthusiastic, flexible, honest, loving, mindful, passionate, persistent, playful, respectful, funny, and sensuous. Embrace these qualities in yourself and look for them in others. You’ll be well on your way to finding your Something More and living a more ecstatic life.

People Showed Up Here For What You Have To Say – So Say It

Kate-SpeakingThe clock was dangerously nearing 12:30pm. Tummies were grumbling. Butts were getting sore from sitting too long. Blood sugar levels were dipping.

My talk, Money: A Love Story, was supposed to end the morning session. But the audience’s (and my own) need for a break were obvious.

So I whispered to the organizer:

“I don’t have to speak today. Let’s just take me off the agenda so we can stay on schedule, or at least I’ll just speak for 5 minutes instead of 30.”

It seemed logical. We were running over. There was too much information to cover in too little time. I would just take myself out and make it easier for everyone. Done and done.

During the lunch break I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the headlining speaker, who’d flown in from Florida to share his expertise with the group.

He said:

“Kate, I heard you asked to be removed from the program or to only speak for 5 minutes. There are people who have driven here to this event to hear you and what you have to say. You will speak for your full time because what you have to share is important.”

The familiar feeling of tears pooling atop my bottom eyelids was there. It was one of those moments of great recognition.

My topic that day was about the importance of valuing ourselves in order to make more money and become a better money manager. Money is all about what we value, and we have to start with ourselves.

Yet, in asking to be removed from the program, I had slipped into an old pattern of undervaluing my own contribution. I was throwing myself under the bus, once again. (We really do teach what we need to learn.)

Sometimes being conscientious of time, resources, and others’ needs is a way of covering up the fact that we don’t value ourselves enough.

When we’re not giving our contribution the credence it deserves, we:

  • apologize for taking up too much space
  • make ourselves small (sometimes literally by scrunching ourselves up or crossing our legs and arms too tightly)
  • keep our hands down even when we have something to say
  • keep our mouths shut
  • take only 15 minutes of the 30 minutes given to us
  • volunteer to be taken off the program

I’m so grateful the gentleman I was sharing the stage with that day said something to me to remind me to honor my contribution.

In the end, I gave my full 30-minute talk and many people came up to me and told me that it was exactly what they needed to hear that day.

Take-home message:

If you don’t speak up, you could be preventing someone from hearing exactly what they needed to. (Tweet it)

So . . .

Show up.

Speak up.

Grab the mic.

Take your time.

Take up space.

Turn up your volume.

Stand up tall.

Sing loud and proud.

Shake what your mama gave you.

And keep yourself on the program.

5 Tips To Help You Recover From Perfectionism

photoAs I headed to Albany, New York last week to film a 90 minute public television special, as well as 6 hours of additional DVD content that would be included as part of the PBS fundraising pledge package, I knew I was walking into a situation that was completely out of my comfort zone. I so wanted to feel like I was going to just nail it on that television set, that I would get it all perfectly right on my first try, that I would wow everyone with my professionalism and TV chops, that everyone would come to me later and say, “Lissa, you’re a natural!”

So I loaded myself up with expectations, hoping I’d get it right, wanting to impress my producers and please my publisher and all that jazz. Naturally, heaping myself with expectations of perfection only left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed in the months before the film date. And then, suddenly, I was backstage, about to appear before a live studio audience to deliver what I hoped would be a perfect performance. (No biggie.)

Permission To Be Imperfect

Suddenly, inside my head, I heard the soothing voice of Brené Brown (with whom I just did a free teleclass – you can listen to us here). When Brené was about to appear on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, she wrote herself a permission slip, which she hid in her pocket. The permission slip said, “Permission to be imperfect.” So right there, back in the wings, I wrote myself the same permission slip, and when I stood in front of that studio audience, I told everyone to bear with me because I was about to give an imperfect performance.

I then proceeded to royally flub up several times, stuttering over my words and misreading the teleprompter. Fortunately, the special was prerecorded! All I had to do when I screwed up was stop, admit my mistake, and try again. The audience had even been prepped so that if I said the same thing twice, they were supposed to pretend they were hearing my hopefully wise words for the very first time!

What If Life Had “Do Overs?”

After a few mistakes and do overs, I said to the audience, “Wouldn’t life be great if we were allowed to just pause and get a ‘Do over’ in other aspects of our life?” And then I realized I’ve done just that. I married imperfectly – twice – and I’ve now been with husband #3 for almost eleven years. (Do over! Do over!) I wound up unhappy in my job as a practicing physician, so I went through a massive career change. (Do over!)  My health broke down because I wasn’t caring for my body or my mind, but I was blessed to get a do over in my health and am now down to half the dose of one of the seven medications I was once taking.

I have been pausing, admitting my mistakes, and doing life over again time after time! And this, I’m realizing, is one of the essential keys to a happy life.

The Pressure Of Perfection

Perfectionism can be a real joy killer. If I had been too afraid to appear imperfect, I might have stayed in two unhappy marriages or kept a job that was sucking the life out of me.

Perfectionism can also be a barrier to intimacy, as well as a potent form of self-sabotage. If I had been committed to trying to give a perfect performance in front of the live studio audience, I might have missed the chance to giggle and connect with the audience the way I did when I flubbed up my words and exposed my imperfections. They might have wrongly assumed that I had it all together, when the honest truth was that I was terrified to be doing something so far outside of my comfort zone. As soon as I let go of the expectation of perfection in myself, my whole body relaxed. I could be imperfect! And I would still be good enough…

I realize that’s what it really comes down to. When I’m too focused on being perfect, it’s usually because, deep in the shadows lies a basic lack of worthiness. Some part of me thinks that, if only I overdeliver, I’ll finally be good enough.

But beneath that shadowy part of myself lies something deeper, something more true, something I call my Inner Pilot Light, and that part of me know that I am – and YOU are – inherently worthy simply because we all have sparks of Divinity within us, and we don’t have to prove anything in order to earn that worth.

Excellence Or Perfectionism?

I notice in myself this struggle between the quest for excellence and the tug of perfectionism. Where is the line? How much striving for excellence is noble versus how much is just ego, rearing its overfluffed head?

Heading into the filming of this public television special, I was aware that, yes, the stakes were high. Yes, my publisher had invested a lot of money to produce this special. Yes, a lot of people will view it. And of course, I want to do a good job.

The same was true in my career as a doctor. A person’s life is on the line. The stakes are high. You don’t want your surgeon to be one of those medical school slackers who swears by the “C=MD” formula! But is it really necessary to push yourself to be top of your class like I did?

Here are my thoughts on how to tell the difference.

5 Tips For Avoiding Perfectionism

1. Give 90%.

90% of the pain of perfectionism comes from trying to eke out that last 10%, when 90% is pretty damn excellent.
 
2. Choose ease.

If you’re finding yourself pushing, striving, trying too hard, or if your work becomes burdensome, you feel the pressure piling on, and you’re in “fight-or-flight” all the time, you’re edging beyond the desire for excellence into perfectionism territory. As Christiane Northrup taught me, try being less sperm, more egg.

You’ll know you’re really in the flow when you’re doing great work, but it doesn’t feel like struggle, when you get winks from the Universe, things line up easily, and the quality of your work doesn’t suffer – you just didn’t have to suffer in order to achieve great things.

3. Know your inherent worthiness.
 
As long as we look outside ourselves for validation that we are enough, we will always be tempted to overdeliver. Try repeating affirmations that remind you that your value lies within. “I am more than enough.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
 
4. Send your Gremlin to time out.
 
There’s a voice in your head that can be a nasty bastard. I call it “The Gremlin,” and it’s the voice of your fearful, insecure inner critic.  If you’re not maxing out your output, giving to the point of depletion (and for many of us, even then!) your Gremlins might be tempted to wage war.

Instead of letting your Gremlins get the best of you, listen to your Inner Pilot Light and know that you don’t  need to be perfect. In fact, as Brené Brown teaches in The Gifts Of Imperfection, your imperfections are actually the gateway to intimacy, the way people can relate to you. Who can relate to anyone who never makes mistakes? (BO-RING!)

5. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes.

It’s one thing to set the goal of delivering a genius manuscript or a standing ovation performance or a gold star sales report or a successful surgical outcome or the desire to win the case/ land the client/ get the deal. It’s another to place your sense of value in how much you achieve.

Instead, do the best you can (well, 90% of your best) and then let it go. Trust. Have faith. And lean into your own sense of inherent worthiness.

Are You A Perfectionist?

Tell us your stories…

Imperfectly yours,

Is Marriage in Your Future? Why Money & Education Matter

Wendy_WalshWhile marriage rates are low, wedding bells and an alter could be in your future, but much depends on if you fall into a category demographers call “marriage-eligible Millennials” – people whose marriage rates are actually on the rise.

An analysis released to USA TODAY reveals what so many of us already know: the U.S. marriage rate is low and in fact, has reached its lowest point in over a century. But this decline may not apply to you. While the economic recession resulted in the number of marriages decreasing by more than 5%, this study predicts there will actually be more weddings among the over the next two years.

The low rates of marriage are mostly related to two factors: couples eschewing legal marriage and instead dipping their toes in commitment by co-habitating and the recession, that makes couples slower at saving money for the big nuptial bash.

But the future looks brighter for some who want to get married. Not everyone will experience the decline firsthand – U.S. birth forecast provider Demographic Intelligence anticipates a 4% bump in the number of weddings from 2009. According to the study, women ages 25-34, the college-educated, and the affluent, are likelier to soon exchange vows than those with a high school education or less, younger Americans, and the less affluent – all who’s marriage rates are stagnant or steadily decreasing. In lower socio-economic classes, marriage and parenthood have become two distinct concepts and the middle-class is beginning to follow suit. But in the highly educated and high earning group, marriage rates highest and predicted to be going up.

Of course, there are the naysayers. Some demographers, including co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, fear this study may be “overly optimistic.” In a 2012 report conducted by the center, Manning and her team found that one-third of people that said, “I do” last year were not marrying for the first time, and that these remarriages were not among younger generations.

Manning also points to the fact that the average age of first-time brides and grooms is getting older each year. Three years ago, the average age was 28.2 for men, and 26.1 for women, compared to the estimated 29.2 and 27.1, respectively, by 2015. What’s more is that experts, including Demographic Intelligence president Sam Sturgeon, expect these numbers to only continue escalating – and for at least another decade.

Bottom line: Get a graduate degree, a good job and by the time you hit the age of 27, you’ll be part of that lucky group of “marriage-eligible Millennials.”

I Believe……

photo_15543_20091121Growing up as a teenager in today’s media driven society can get a little crazy sometimes. Our cell phones are attached to us 24/7 and social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.. alert us that someone has tagged us, messaged us or there is new drama. When I think of the social media applications we teens use, I think of it as our own TV News Network. Who needs CNN or FOX when we can see it almost as fast as the stations do? As I travel giving my “Girl Talks” I am finding more and more that young girls spend way more time than necessary worrying about what everyone thinks about them. Rumors, gossip and drama spread like a bad disease causing girls to second guess themselves or better yet, they are afraid to be themselves because they are being judged under the microscope of social media.

When we are little we don’t think about how mean other girls can be. Everyone is our friend and we just want to play imaginary games and eat ice cream together. Fifth grade comes around and we are given a dose of bad tasting medicine and realize girls are mean. Instead of being judged whether we can play nice together we are now being judged by what we wear, how much money we have, who has the best figure and who’s popular. Not meeting the criteria immediately puts you in a “grouping” whether you like it or not which continues throughout your school years…. UNLESS…. you believe in yourself, know your self worth, and are confident to ignore the haters and rock who you are and what you stand for. I like to call it having “Girl Power.”

Finding your “Girl Power” is easier said than done. Parents can tell you how wonderful you are your entire life and one can still feel inadequate. Getting bullied takes you down a notch and many times girls never get back up. I’ve always been the type of girl who wants to fit in and wants to be liked, but not at all costs. I found my “sparkle” in middle school and at the time it was cheerleading. I was very small and therefore was a great flyer. This boosted my self confidence and I was surrounded by others who shared the same hobby which gave me friendships that remain today. My high school years were no longer filled with cheerleading, I found theater and choir to be what made me “sparkle.” Again, being a part of a team and working together for the same cause enabled me to find great friends who shared my morals and values. My film and modeling career was my true love, but I only chose to share that with my closest friends. Once again, girls are mean and I found myself not wanting to share something that I was so proud of for fear I would be judged. That is so wrong and as soon as I figured that out I felt home free. Worrying about what others think keeps us from expressing who we are and what we are passionate about.

As long as I am making good choices and have positive morals and values, I can take my “Girl Power” and my “Sparkle” and make a difference by being just me – the best that I can be. No one is allowed to judge me except me – I believe having confidence has given me the opportunity to see my “girl power” and rock my “sparkle.” My goal through Girls Above Society and the reason I created this organization is to help empower young girls to believe……in themselves……and be the best that they can be……not what society says they should be. So, go on and get some “Girl Power” of your own ~

You Are Magnificent

magnificence-swanA question that keeps coming up from readers is “Why are we not born already knowing our magnificence? Why do we have to spend a lifetime struggling to discovery our greatness?”

In response to this, here an excerpt of an audio interview with me from several months ago, conducted by Alan Steinfeld:

Anita Moorjani: I believe that we are actually born aware of who we are; I mean, we are born knowing how magnificent we are. I feel we are not meant to lose it. We come into this world with the intention of holding onto it, and many of us come with dreams of changing the world and make it a better place for everyone. But somehow things fall by the wayside, things get in the way, our fear gets in the way, our egos get in the way. All sorts of things get in the way. That’s what it feels like to me. I was sure that I had come into this world (as a baby) with my magnificence intact, but I have been conditioned to forget it along the way. If we all remembered who we truly are, our lives would be very, very different.

Alan Steinfeld: If we look at children, I guess they do have a sense of their curiosity and wonder and then it is not so much their ego, it is what comes from outside of them that puts them in these little boxes; puts us, all of us in these boxes.

Anita Moorjani: That is exactly it. When we look at little children, they know that they are special. They are full of joy. When you know that you are loved and special, you don’t become all selfish and egotistical; which is what the popular perception is. In fact it is the contrary, you become full of joy – the way you see little children who laugh so easily. That is actually what happens, you become like a child. You laugh easily, you don’t take things seriously and you become a joy to be around. Actually you become much more giving. The more that you love yourself and the more you realize how powerful you are, you actually become much more generous because you can afford to be. You’re not afraid. You’re not afraid of keeping things close to your chest, or competing, or fighting. You know that you’ll get what is yours. So you become very generous, giving, joyful and popular. People love people like that, self-actualized people.

Alan Steinfeld: How would you raise a child, teaching them? You would restructure the whole system wouldn’t you?

Anita Moorjani: Oh, how I wish I could restructure the whole system! I would create things so differently! If it were up to me, our focus, as a race and society, would be more on achieving joy, love and health, with much less emphasis on the pursuit of money for the sake of money! I give credit to those who choose to home school their children. It is hard work because our society does not support it. It supports something completely opposite. So on the one hand, it feels like you are swimming upstream, going against the flow, while on the other hand, I keep telling people you are supposed to be going with the flow. But the flow that we have created within our society is the kind that goes against who we really are and that’s the problem. So in our society, we find ourselves amidst a lot of contradictions, with a lot of things to work against, in order to be authentic to who we truly are. But what I would do regardless, even if I had to send my children through the regular system that currently exists; I would still tell my child every single day that they are loved unconditionally. It does not mean that I will not reprimand, or tell them things that they have done that are hurtful, or point things out to them. But here is one thing that we seem to do pretty much universally, we like to instill fear in children to discipline them. And we think that fear keeps our children well behaved and keeps them safe and so on. I don’t agree with that, I think we need to instill self-love and self-respect into our children. The more a person loves themselves, the more likely they are to keep themselves safe. What keeps you safe is love and not fear.

Alan Steinfeld: Just that understanding would change everything about how we raise our children.

Anita Moorjani: That is what I believe. It is so simple and I don’t understand why our entire system is built on fear.

Alan Steinfeld: How would you teach love to children?

Anita Moorjani: I would tell children that it is ok to be different. You are not supposed to all be the same. I was bullied as a child because I was different. I grew up in a culture that was not my own culture. So I was a different race, religion, color, everything and I felt different. I felt like I never belonged. I felt like I had to work really hard to fit in. And I was completely unaware that everybody around me was unaware that it was ok to be different. So I spent my entire life feeling like there was something wrong with me. If it were up to me, I would want every single child to know that they are meant to be unique. They are meant to share their uniqueness. I would teach children to embrace their uniqueness and embrace everybody else’s uniqueness. I would also eliminate competition in schools. It only encourages us to compete, but competition at that age causes fear. It causes us to fear failing, to fear not being good enough, and needing to feel good by being better than the people around us. We don’t need that. Life is a journey, not a zero sum game. You don’t have to have losers in order to feel like a winner. You can feel like a winner and everybody can feel like a winner.

Alan Steinfeld: You know, going back to what you said before. I always felt that I was different; not because I looked different. I just always felt outside of the culture somehow and I always loved that about myself even though I felt like I never fit in. I still feel different from everyone else in some way.

Anita Moorjani: But see, that is beautiful. It’s beautiful to be different. I only embraced the value of being different after my near death experience. It took that for me realize, “Oh, I was meant to be this way. I’m not supposed to try and contort myself to make myself fit in, or make myself small, or make myself someone else. This is who I am and it is amazing and it is a gift.” And that is what kids need to know.

Alan Steinfeld: I like what you said about no competition, one ego against another. But what other real radical things would you do in education?

Anita Moorjani: I would love for kids to learn to view their bodies and health differently from the way we currently view ourselves. I would let kids know that they have the resources within them to heal. I think kids need to know from a young age that their bodies have this amazing, magical ability. A lot of kids today are getting the message for example that their bodies are unable to heal, or even grow strong, without our constant intervention; so they are becoming more and more sensitive. We are becoming extremely fearful about things like illnesses and we are passing this fear on to our kids. We are telling them: don’t do this or that, don’t play there, don’t eat that, we tell them that they must follow strict hygiene rules, and we are obsessive about cleanliness, and so on; and I think sometimes that we go over the top. You look at Western culture, we are drugging up our kids from a very young age for everything. Whereas, if you go to a third world country, kids are eating the dirt off the streets and they’re still surviving and growing up to be really strong, working laboriously long hours doing manual and physical labor. Our bodies are physically very resilient and kids need to know that. This is the reason why so many of us think that everything is going to make us sick. That is the other thing I would change with kids. I would really like them to know that they are physically much stronger than what they currently believe they are.

You can listen to the whole interview here