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

Protecting Your Child’s Beauty in the Cyber Age

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You’ve waited your whole life for the joys of parenthood. Your amazing genes have made beautiful offspring, your warm heart and spirit have helped develop a child with deep inner beauty too, now what? With all of the influences of the media and peer pressure, how do you keep their fragile self-esteem intact through the wonder years? And how much harder has that task become with our kid’s new online lives that have them plugged in to the “matrix” at younger ages every day?

It used to be that the biggest sore spot in a kid’s life was a schoolyard or neighborhood bully that could be diffused by an angry stomp over to the offender’s house and a gold old fashioned mom-to-mom talk. Now thanks to the “world wide web” kids are opened up to a world of possible influences. Not to mention the anonymity and distance of the internet gives people a false courage to say and do things they wouldn’t necessarily do in person.

While you can’t protect them from everything they see and hear there are some guide lines you can follow to help ease possible pains;

Computer use should be age appropriate. Younger kids have no clue about the bad possibilities of the web and tend to be overly free with pictures and personal information. Discussing this with them is a must and keep younger users in common areas for their online time.

No secrets. As your kids get older they may start to think they have “private lives” that you need to stay out of, the way they post every aspect of their lives on the net is thought anything but private. At every age make sure you have their passwords and access to ALL of their social sites and have friends and family included in their social networks. Which brings me to my next point…

Keep up with the world of social media. I know you may think you have a lot better things to do than keep with what came after Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr yet when it comes to your kids, you don’t. To truly know your kids you need to know the trends.

Constant communication is the key. The teen years can be filled with a lot of grunts and rolled eyes when it comes to parent-kid talks but continue to the dialogue. Use teachable moments from the news to spark conversations and keep as open a line of communication as possible. They may not tell you everything all the time but gathering what you can and maintaining their trust will pay off.

Keep them busy. Limit online time and distract them from computer usage with healthy activities. Too much of anything is just too much.

Use the resources available. There are a number of sites that you can use for both you and your kids to monitor what is said and seen about you on the web. Pay sites like ReputationDefender and sites like Safesocial and GoGoStat can help keep you up to date with your personal information.

Most important is to continue to be a good example to your kids. As much as their peer group will play a role in their development you are still the biggest model for who they are. To be sure you are building and protecting their self-esteem, speak well of yourself and others. Loving yourself is yet another way you show them love and build a shield around them.

Love,
Michelle

Strong, Sexy, Successful…..You Can Have it All!

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There is no denying that these are very confusing times to be a woman. The generations before us fought long and hard to give us the right to lead countries, corporations, or stay home as mothers and lead our families. And what has all of this freedom gotten us? We are stronger and smarter…yet we are lost! We are stuck between what we could be and what we think we should be, searching to balance that with our femininity.

I remember as a little girl singing along with Helen Reddy at the top of my lungs, “I am woman hear me roar!” That was the battle cry of the 70’s that told women in no uncertain terms that anything you want can and should be yours. As exciting as it should have been, it was probably pretty scary for a lot of people in both genders. The women were afraid of the unknown and just how to manage this newfound power and I’m guessing that the men were somewhere in caves having meetings about how to protect their spots at the top of the food chain.

Being strong means knowing what you want personally and professionally and having the courage to go for it. Often this requires asking for what you want and, at times along the way demanding it. From a man this is almost expected. From a woman this can bring out resistance from family and friends and of course the dreaded “b-word”.

Being successful can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask. As women our internal struggles for “success” go deeper than just the pressures to climb the corporate ladder though, many of us have deep-seeded maternal instincts that leave us torn by our desires to accomplish things and the feeling that we are sacrificing our families along the way.

Being sexy while doing any of this brings its own set of challenges. The media would have us believe that sexy and “sexpot” are one and the same. It’s sad to see that after all of the fights to be taken seriously as women, this generation seems to think it’s necessary to wear three coats of makeup and have most of your body on display to be considered “beautiful.”

Thinking about all of this the questions for many of us is, “Can we be strong, successful, and sexy, or do we have to pick one?” I believe it is possible to have it all and it comes down to striking this balance between inner strength and outer beauty, you just have to know where to look…

Like everything I talk about in my book and programs having it all comes down to defining who you are, what you want most out, and rocking that throughout your life and look. By knowing what you want deep inside it will be harder for the external pressures to take you from your purpose and passion. This is the strength you can call on to achieve a success that is true to you. And by simply living this truth, and expressing it in all of your everyday actions and choices, you’ll radiate a beauty that can’t be outmatched. The sexiest woman in the room is not the one with the $1,000 dress or the best plastic surgeon but the one who knows who she is.

Love,
Michelle

CLEANSING FEAR

by Leah Carey
Beautiful woman washing her face

Have you ever had a piece of clothing or jewelry you had to get rid of because of the memories it evoked?

Maybe the earrings from your ex-husband that remind you of the painful breakup instead of the happy years.

Or the swimsuit that is two sizes too small and reminds you of how your body used to look.

Or maybe it’s the beautiful scarf your sister gave you before she passed away, and rather than bringing you comfort it reminds you how much you miss her. You don’t want to get rid of it, but you have to put it away for a while.

For my part, I had to get rid of my a sweater that was my ex-boyfriend’s favorite. Every time I put it on after the break up, instead of feeling uplifted at how sexy he thought it was on me, I felt deep sadness that things didn’t work out. It was so painful that I no longer wanted to see it hanging in my wardrobe. I also have a “boyfriend box” with the pictures and tchotchkes that remind me of him – I don’t want them gone for good because there are some meaningful things in there, but it will be a while before I can look at them without feeling sad.

The point is this: clothing and objects hold memories. They have the power to evoke strong emotions. In other words, they hold energy.

Sometimes it’s joyful energy – I feel joyful every time I put on my favorite turtleneck because I know the color looks great on me and I always get compliments on it. It holds an energy of joy.

But sometimes it’s painful energy…or sad energy…or fearful energy.

About seven years ago, I decided to make a clean start for New Years. In the week leading up to the new year, I made a project of washing Every. Single. Piece. of clothing that I owned. Yep, it was a LOT of loads of laundry.

But I wasn’t just trying to get them clean of sweat and dirt. I had made a conscious commitment to stop letting fear rule my life as powerfully as it had. So I put every load of laundry in with the intention: “I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.”

Every time I put on a piece of the newly-cleansed clothing, I felt GREAT! It wasn’t just that it was clean…it was CLEANSED. It’s a big difference. I felt like I could go forward and make new experiences, new memories, and new associations because any residual fear and sadness the clothes had picked up was washed away.

Does it mean I never felt fear again? Of course not!!!! But rather than just going along with the old pattern of fear and sadness, I’d made a conscious decision to start a new pattern. And here’s the important part: I took action to support that decision.

The memory of that massive clothing cleanse came to mind last night as I was shedding my clothes at the end of the day and deciding what to put in the laundry bucket. Normally I wear my jeans and tops more than once between washings, and both my jeans and top were still well within reasonable limits. But then I stopped to reconsider.

You see, yesterday was not a normal day. In fact, yesterday was a very scary day.

I am currently supporting my mom as she goes through treatment for cancer. She is nearing the end of her chemotherapy regimen and, as expected, she’s been getting progressively weaker. Yesterday she had a medical incident while I was alone with her at her house. It turned out to be relatively minor, but that’s not what it looked like in the moment. And worst of all, while I generally pride myself on being good in an emergency, in this case I panicked.

The aftermath of those few minutes of panic stayed with me throughout the afternoon in the emergency room and into the evening as we returned home.

When it was time to shed my clothes for the day, my natural inclination was to check my jeans and turtleneck to make sure I hadn’t sat in any chocolate and that they still smelled okay, and then put them back in the closet.

But as I started to hang up my top, something didn’t feel right. It took me a moment to put my finger on it, and then I got it…the shirt “smelled” like fear to me. So much so that I didn’t want to place it in my closet and infect the clothes around it. I also didn’t want to turn to my closet next week and wrap myself once again in residual fear.

A week or two from now would I still “smell” the fear on those clothes? Probably not. But I know from past experiences that energy lasts even when I’m not consciously aware of it.

It was worth it to me to toss the turtleneck and jeans and bra into my laundry bucket and cleanse them even before I sat in some renegade chocolate.

I’ve made a note for myself so that next time I do laundry I will once again consciously hold the intention that I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.

Next time you have a particularly upsetting experience, consider the clothes and jewelry you’re wearing. Close your eyes and see if you can sense any of that residual energy on them.

If so, toss them in the laundry even if it’s not time yet. You can do the same with jewelry – put it under running water in the sink and imagine the fear/sadness/anger rushing down the drain into the earth where it can be recycled and turned into something new. Or, if you get good sunlight in your home, you can place your jewelry in a dish in the sun for a day and imagine the sun’s rays blasting away any darkness that might be hanging on to the beads and baubles.

Why not do everything possible to start cleansed and clean for a fresh new day!

Money can come and go, but emotional bankruptcy is a killer.

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Just a short time ago, I was driving my daughter’s friend, Jordan, home after a fun day at the beach. I noticed that as we were getting closer to the young girl’s home she was becoming quite upset. I asked her if she was okay and she replied “my mom, sister and I had to move this week because we were evicted from our home”. Jordan went on to share that her mom’s second husband was abusive, had left them and she was trying her best on a small salary. My heart sank as I immediately felt her mother’s pain of trying to make it as a single mom with young children. As we approached her new home I realized we were in the worst part of town.

Jordan went into her house and quickly came back out running to my car-crying hysterically. She begged to stay with us for the night. She said she didn’t want to go into that awful place. It was the “slums” in her eyes and she was upset at her mother for moving her there. Jordan’s mom quickly followed, tears in her eyes holding her six month old baby, and assured me it was okay and best to take her daughter for the night.

My heart broke for her as we drove away. What she didn’t know is that our stories are the same. Yes, stories.

Many years ago, I left an abusive marriage and ended up on food stamps to support my kids. The lack of money was not as much what took me down, it was more about pulling myself up from the damage that was done from the words and threats that I endured on top of feeling as if I was a failure. Little by little, I was able to pick my self up and do the work to build a solid foundation of self-love.

When we are emotionally bankrupt it can be a danger zone. Not taking the time to fully heal and regain our sense self-worth can often times put us right back in a relationship with someone else who doesn’t value us. When we are hurt and feel down about ourselves, quite often the first person that comes along and tells us we are beautiful and fabulous wins our heart. We begin to find our sense of worth in someone else’s arms only to find ourselves back in the same cycle over and over again.

I got my daughter and Jordan back to my house and settled for bed so that I could make a very important call. I picked up the phone and reached out to the troubled and heartbroken mom. I wanted her to know that I’d been there too and she didn’t do anything wrong. She’s not broken… she’s beautiful, loveable, and capable. I wanted her to know she’s not alone… If she needed anything, I am here. My home is her home. We cried together and talked about how life throws us curve balls and when we pick ourselves up and remember who we are, shower ourselves with love, and surround ourselves with love (ask for help), we can and will survive and thrive in the end.

I dedicate this to all women who have felt or do feel broken. You are not. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are capable of anything. I am here to remind you that you are not alone and you are love…pure love inside. Don’t let someone else break your spirit. Break free and let your spirit soar. Fly beautiful girl, fly!

Love,
Michelle

Schedule Time to Take Action

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It’s important to schedule your Master Action steps just as you would a trip to the dentist or an oil change for your car. Not many people can “quit” their current life to work on inventing a new one, but everyone can find 30 minutes every day to journal, make a phone call, or meditate. You can begin living your dream right here, right now. Remember, if you want to supercharge your success, don’t just write down your goals and action steps. Share them with a friend or members of your coaching circle, and check in weekly.

Although your intentions can guide you toward your dreams, you still have to get out there and make things happen. This may feel uncomfortable or even risky, but I’ve watched all my clients experience similar feelings as they move through the process. When you understand the steps of transformation and what each step entails, you can move faster toward your ultimate goal, with less chance of getting stuck or hung up somewhere along the way.
For some of my clients, taking action and asking for help also involves facing certain fears they’ve been avoiding. If that sounds familiar, be encouraged! I’ve been in your shoes, and I have some wonderful tips in the next step to help you shake your fears and walk confidently into the light.

Affirmation: I make time to nurture my spirit and honor my life’s purpose. I ask for and accept help when I need it.

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/