Whose voice is running in your head?

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We all have them; those voices in our head that cause fear and doubt and undermine our lives. Often, they are the voices of people who we trusted and felt safe around but betrayed that security, and in the process, created a life-long internal battle for our self-esteem. It could be the voice of a parent, love interest, or even a teacher or boss whose opinion you valued, and now their words hang over your heart. “Don’t eat that or you’ll get fat.” “Don’t bother trying that you’re not capable.”

I know those voices all too well. Several years ago, after going through a difficult divorce, I lost my job of 12 years, and found myself raising three small children with no money. For months I paid my bills with credit cards and when those ran out, I applied for welfare. As I struggled through a downward spiral, voices from my past played like a broken record telling me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. That was until my best friend Lori called and told me she had stage four colon cancer.

I realized at that moment life was too short to listen to any voice other than mine. I decided that whatever was playing in my head, and no matter who said it, it was time to erase the tape and live my beauty! When I did, my life changed dramatically.

So how do you erase and reprogram your positive inner dialogue?

You can start by writing down all the negative inner dialogue that runs through your mind. For each bit, answer this question: What was the true intent behind the statement, meaning, who made it and why? Here’s a story to help you get the gist of what I want you to do. . . .

I was working with a client shortly after her husband left her. After weeks of self-esteem coaching, she wanted to go shopping to create a new look that matched her new life. As a celebrity stylist and life coach it’s always fun to help women bring their inner beauty to life through a look that matches who they are. After trying on several flattering outfits, however, she looked dejected and stared at the dressing-room floor.

“I have to tell you something,” she said. I braced myself because, by now, I’ve learned that clients who are making bold changes also confront even bigger fears. “I think my stomach looks terrible in all these clothes.”

“What?” I gasped. “You look incredible! You have a great body. Where is this coming from? What is the voice in your head saying exactly?”

“It’s my ex’s voice,” she confessed. “He told me that I was getting fat, and he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore.”

“What was his genuine intention behind that statement?” I asked.

“To hurt me, I guess.”

“So, it wasn’t true, right? He only said it to upset you. Do you see the difference?”
She nodded, and relief washed over her face. The inner voice that had damaged her so deeply wasn’t true, and now she saw it for what is was; a lie. She stood up straighter and smiled, and I knew she was on her way to becoming a free woman.

Whose voice is running through your head? Now it’s your turn to do this exercise so that you can finally be free of any shaming voices that hold you back. And even if the original intention was positive—as a way to protect you, for instance—the result may still be the same. This exercise enables you to observe this dialogue for what it truly is and no longer allow it to control you.

Love,
Michelle

Stuck with What’s Safe?

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Holding on to a false sense of security often lures women away from the challenge of embracing their fears. Traditionally, men are the risk takers—they’re encouraged to play hard, get dirty, and try new things. Women, on the other hand, typically grow up with messages about the importance of being safe and secure. When I was on the verge of leaving my marriage, for example, my father was very afraid for me. “You’re giving up your security!” he warned. Even though I knew I had to leave, I was terrified. My own fear made it nearly impossible to take the next, right step.

At that moment, I needed a reality check. Maybe you need one now, too. We women take care of our households, our families, our friends, our careers, our health, our looks, and our finances. If we can handle all that (and more), we can handle anything! We wouldn’t have come so far in life if we weren’t capable.

So the first step to embracing fear is to give it a good dose of reality. Remind yourself of everything that you are already successfully managing in your life. Do you see that you’re stronger than you might think?

What no one else may tell you is that the sense of safety you’re used to isn’t as safe as you think. “Sure things” can always fall through, and here’s a perfect example: Recently, a friend approached me with a dilemma. She was stuck in a job she hated but made good money. Then she was offered her dream job, but there were some unknowns and risk factors. Agonizing, she asked, “Do I go for my dream and give up my security or should I stay with this job?”

As we discussed her situation, it became clear that she should go for it, but in the end she chose to let the opportunity pass her by. “I decided to stay where I am—it’s just safer,” she explained. Several months later, though, her “safe” job was eliminated, and she found herself without her sure thing or her dream job. If my friend had eliminated her excuses and embraced her fears, she might have noticed some red flags in her current job and realized that her magic-wand dream perhaps wasn’t as risky as it seemed.

Remember, don’t get stuck with what’s safe because nothing is set in stone.
You’ve heard the story about the frog in a pot of warm water, right? The frog becomes complacent and doesn’t realize that the heat is slowly increasing until it’s too late. Perhaps it was afraid to leap into the unknown despite its growing discomfort, which leads me to the point I want you to understand: Anything can eventually become acceptable, if you let it.

Why do we live in circumstances we dislike? Why do we tolerate the intolerable? Excuses. We all have them: “What will others think?” “I’m not good enough.” “It doesn’t matter.” “I don’t have the time [or money].” “My family needs me too much right now.” “I don’t know how/I don’t know the right people.” This is the voice of fear, and it sabotages our chances for a beautiful life. Those little words debilitate us and shut us down.

I tell my clients that once you eliminate your excuses, you can make better choices and have a much greater chance for achieving real, lasting security. When you do, you will be aligned with your foundation values and start to live your best life!

Excerpt: “The Beauty Blueprint” by Michelle Phillips
http://www.michellephillips.com/book/

Small Steps Make a Big Difference

th A Harvard economist conducted a study to determine whether offering rewards to children was an effective way to motivate them to do well in school. Interestingly, some of the findings suggested that students who broke goals down into smaller steps—which were immediately under the control of the student, such as “Read one book this week”—had greater academic success than their peers who had goals but no clear plan to achieve them.1

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert in every step toward achieving your dream. Many women give up because they don’t think they can get there alone. I have news for you: you don’t have to go it alone! Think of a chef creating a delicious gourmet meal. If she can’t locate a key ingredient, does she throw out everything and order takeout? Of course not. She goes to the store and asks someone for help.

If you’re a mom, you probably already know how to ask for help. If your little one needed medical attention at midnight, for instance, you would call someone regardless of the time or inconvenience. You wouldn’t care how you looked to others, either, because your child is more important to you than someone else’s opinion of your parenting skills.

Here’s an exercise I practice when I am feeling overwhelmed. I break my to-do list down into small steps, I think about what my possible needs might be. Then I jot down the names of everyone who can guide me along the way. For me, this includes individuals who could help with specific steps such as putting together my website, writing my manuscript, and learning about the publishing industry.

I refer to this as a Master Resource List, which is an essential component in achieving the steps necessary for success in all areas of your life. So pick up your pen and get to work on your own Master Resource List . Tomorrow I will discuss how to use these resources to accomplish your Master Action List.

Excerpt: “The Beauty Blueprint” by Michelle Phillips
http://www.michellephillips.com/book/

Your Hobbies Can Boost Your Success!

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The more hobbies you have, the more likely you are to gain greater social power, influence, and advantage, according to sociologists in Britain. Researchers there are studying the power of hobbies to effect upward mobility in society.

If you don’t have the means to enjoy one of your top ten activities, you need to get creative. For example, taking bubble baths is on my list, but when my kids were very young, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without a little one in the room with me. A relaxing bath (alone!) seemed impossible. My simple solution was to plan it ahead of time on my calendar. I’d make “spa appointments” with myself and stick to them.

You can do it, too. Perhaps you’re a single mom who’s craving some alone time but doesn’t have the resources to hire a sitter. You could make Thursday evenings your special time after the kids are tucked into bed. Take out a book, light a candle, and make yourself a soothing cup of tea. Your inner spirit needs this attention. Nurturing your soul (doing what you love) strengthens your core (your foundation) and increases your ability to achieve your dreams.

I also wrote on my list that I love to travel. Do you like to travel, too? Well, for most people (including me), finding the time and money to plan a trip isn’t always doable. This is where you once again need to be creative. Why not pack your own lunch for work and cut back at the local coffee shop? You’ll save at least $50 if you do it for a month. You could then treat yourself to lunch at a hip café and visit a museum you’ve never been to before. Get my drift? Start doing things now that make you smile and feel good. Lifting your spirits will help you make positive changes and reach your goals much quicker.

Keep in mind that if you always deny yourself the happiness you deserve, life seems so much harder. You feel down, and are less resilient and motivated. So many women rely on medication, food, or alcohol to suppress the pain of a depleted spirit. Pleasure, not suppression, is the solution. Put your top-ten list into practice and let your authentic self come alive!

Excerpt: The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillips
http://www.michellephillips.com/book/

Getting Rid of Judgments

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The next time you find yourself criticizing someone, ask yourself: Do I really know what is triggering or motivating her choices? You can even say, I’m sorry she made that choice. Something is going on with her. This is a powerful way to model true beauty to the women around you.

When we criticize an individual, we are also identifying with him or her in some aspect. A client once told me, “When I look at my ex, who was horrible to me, I realize that I have the capability of being just as angry and mean to others. If I’m going to be free, I have to bless him and wish him well, and not permit any negativity to remain in my heart.”

By refusing to cast judgment, we help ourselves live in true beauty. We’re breaking the cycle of fear and anger. It’s also vital to remember that we influence everyone around us, especially our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and so on. Young girls need positive role models! We women must teach the next generation how to lead truly beautiful, authentic lives.
Excerpt: The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillips

Dream A Beautiful Future

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nicopierce/5492971031/

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul.” — CARL JUNG
While flying cross-country recently for an appearance on a morning talk show, I was seated next to a young man in his mid-20s. Clean-cut and friendly, he didn’t seem to be in need of any type of life advice or coaching whatsoever.
As we settled into the flight and exchanged pleasantries, it became clear that he wanted to talk more. As we struck up a conversation, he told me that he was an architect by day and a bartender at night. He came from a prominent family and was well educated. I noticed that he was writing or doodling while he spoke, and when I asked him about it, he remarked that he often drew when he told stories. In fact, he shared that when he’s bartending, he sketches on napkins and leaves them in front of each customer so that he’d know where he left off in his conversation with each person. I casually mentioned that he was obviously a creative person.
He replied, “Yes, but being an architect doesn’t pay very well—that’s why I’m also bartending. I’m hoping to make enough money so that I can have the option to try something else.”
“What is it you want to do?”
“I have no idea.”
I rephrased the question. “If you could wave a magic wand and create your perfect life, what would you be doing?”
“I’d build boats!” he answered immediately.
We talked about his passion for boats and his dream of designing and building them one day. As we parted, I urged him to go for it, and I really hope he does. Within that dream lies the true beauty in his life; and his chance to leave behind a wonderful, rich legacy.
I found it interesting that outwardly, he seemed like someone who had it all together. It was only when he spoke honestly about what he truly wanted that he came to realize he wasn’t following his heart. I think he left our conversation acknowledging that no matter how great he is at architecture or bartending, he’ll never feel totally fulfilled until he builds that first boat.

Excerpt: The Beauty Blueprint by Michelle Phillip
To Purchase: http://www.amazon.com/The-Beauty-Blueprint-Building-Dreams/dp/1401931731

Give Yourself Permission

By Lisa Selow

Permission slip for blog postWhen going through conscious type of life changes, sometimes our inner child feels like it needs approval from others. Even though I’m a rebel, preferring my inner authority instead of outside sources, I’m human.

It’s human to feel like you need approval, permission, or to get others’ opinions from time to time.

The challenge in waiting to get others’ approval is to not allow it to hold you back. I can get stuck in analysis, causing procrastination. If you’re sensitive (like me), sometimes, others’ words or even lack thereof, can make you start to question yourself. (By the way, I’m not saying to ignore others’ opinions, especially if you have a partner, children, loved ones, or others who will be affected by your choices. Of course, please consult them for at least the big stuff.)

I find that if I get a great idea or that I feel guided to make a change in my life often it feels right and I don’t need any opinions. Let’s say I want to change the color in my living room. I’m really drawn to coral and oranges lately with teal accents. I’m going to go for it soon. (Are you reading this, hubby? I need your painting skills!).

Some changes feel a bit more scary though. For example, I’ve had Bettie Page bangs since 2005. I’ve changed up my hair color often, but not my cut. For the past year, I’ve been agonizing about whether to let my bangs grow out. I mean, it’s just hair, right? I can cut it again, if I don’t like how the bangs turn out. I also have a stellar hairdresser whom I trust.

Other changes really scare me! Things like moving cross-country or doing my yoga teacher training. (I’m going to do the latter next year, if all goes well.) I know that some fears serve us. I don’t like the idea of jumping out of an airplane, but that is a good thing. It makes me go take a class, not that I ever would. I also have a healthy fear of going trekking in the Himalayas, but I know that I will one day. Of course, I will train for it and research the best guided trip for me, maybe doing some high altitude living for a spell to get acclimated.

I imagine that most of our first world changes that we desire to make or challenges we face pale in comparison to decisions having to be made in places that have war, natural disasters, government upheavals, revolution, poverty, and other distress. I do my best to imagine this, putting my little, old problems into perspective when I am trying to make decisions.

I’m not trying to guilt you with the prior paragraph about first world pain, and well, if you’re human, you’ve probably already mastered how to guilt trip yourself in the past. When I feel like I need approval or the green light, I see it as a chance to gently re-parent my inner child who feels lost. Then, I go into my inner adult or parent and mentally write myself a permission slip. I say you can even go one step further and make a physical permission slip, signing your name, something like the below:

“I, Lisa Selow, give myself full out permission to change the style of my hair, the colors of my website and the rooms in my house.” [date and sign]

Yes, it’s a mundane example, but hey, once you get used to giving yourself permission, it will get easier. I’ve found that this practice helps me to feel peaceful about my decision. I don’t worry as much about making the “right” decision. I only can make the best decision I can in the moment for where I’m currently at in life.

What about you? What do you need to write a permission slip for in your own life? Share in the comments below and let’s support each other.