Whose voice is running in your head?

th (1)

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

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

tumblr_m0ejdllbbt1ro3yglo1_500

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

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

th

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

Your Hobbies Can Boost Your Success!

thCALR8QD3
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/

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

What’s Your Top Ten List?

365 Day 363**
Today is a good day to remind yourself what lights you up. Take out your favorite writing utensil and write down the top ten things you love to do—even if you aren’t doing them right now. When I first used this exercise in a workshop, the majority of the women sat there tapping their pencils and staring at the blank page in their journals for what seemed like an eternity.
“I don’t know,” one woman admitted.
“I have no idea,” said another.
“I can write you a list of the top ten things I need to do when I get home,” one offered, half jokingly.
On the other hand, ask any little girl to do this and I bet she’ll have it done in under three minutes. Chances are, she’ll be all the way to number 40 and asking for another piece of paper. Most young girls know who they are because they listen to their hearts. They don’t worry about being practical or efficient, and impressing others. That’s why they’re also such confident dressers. They express themselves freely, without a care in the world. (Even if, on any given day, that includes wearing tap shoes, shorts, and a wool sweater with matching earmuffs.)
To help get you started, here’s my top-ten list:

• Laughing and playing with my children
• Having date night with my husband
• Taking bubble baths
• Eating at fine restaurants
• Hosting or attending dinner parties with my closest friends
• Spending quality time with my girlfriends (so good for the soul!)
• Watching my kids play sports or perform in a play (I cry with pride every time!)
• Traveling
• Fishing
• Walking on the beach
As I mentioned, most of my clients or workshop participants struggle with this exercise. The majority can’t come up with more than three things, and some eventually give up and cry in frustration. It’s very telling. We women nurture everyone and everything outside of ourselves but we haven’t made the connection between nurturing our spirits, feeling beautiful, and staying on course toward our dreams. We’re like builders trying to frame a house without a solid foundation. Despite our efforts, our work just won’t hold up, eventually toppling over.
No one sees the foundation, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Just like foundational garments or cosmetics, it’s the critical starting point. Others may not understand why you need to spend time doing something on your top-ten list, but they will notice as you grow stronger and more beautiful . . . all a result of nourishing your soul.
So, get going on your top-ten list! Remember to focus on what you love. Are you doing any of these things on a regular basis? If you aren’t, why not start now? Set your intention by identifying a simple step you can take today. Then do it!

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

Focus on Your Pluses – Radiance Factor on VividLife Radio with Supermodel Emme

By Michelle Phillips

imagesFor many of us what is holding us back from feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what’s actually in the mirror, it’s how we feel about ourselves.  And how we feel about ourselves can be a product of negative self-talk that we listen to that tells us, “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or rich enough too!” The question is; where does this self-talk come from?

While it could be from someone outside of ourselves who we allowed to get into our heads, it is more commonly coming from our own minds as part of what is now being thought of as the “comparison trap.” The comparison trap stems from years of programming from a variety of places that might include images we see in the media, our up-bringing, friends or family members, and it is a debilitating need to base our own self-worth on others rather than the strengths within ourselves.

A prime example happened to me the other day when I picked up a woman’s health magazine while in line at the grocery store and on the cover was a famous work out diva in a bikini. Although I had just finished a one hour Pilates class that totally kicked my butt I looked at this cover and said to myself, “I will never look like that no matter how much I try.”

My next thought, which was a bit more comforting was that as a stylist who has worked on thousands of photo shoots I know the truth about what goes into creating the facade of perfection of that “perfect” image. You see the models don’t even look like the images we see in the media.  First they go through hours of makeup and hair, get placed under perfect lighting and then the images are digitally enhanced.  The same goes for TV and Film.  Sadly, not everyone is privy to that emotionally soothing knowledge and it hurts.

On top of that, the exhausting and sometimes depressing images of perfection aren’t just of people, we have perfect images of homes on HGTV, and food on cooking shows, and then we all have those friends who recreate everything they see on TV and magazines which really make us feel inadequate. That constant focus on what we don’t have, or how what we have isn’t as good as someone else’s is negative weight, a weight that is crushing down upon us more each day.

How are we ever going to feel good about our lives, families, jobs, our look or our bodies if we are comparing ourselves to other people?

Recently I had the honor of spending some time on my VividLife Radio Show, The Radiance Factor, with Emme, who is a powerful example of the beauty and strength it takes to rise above this “programming” we are all fighting. You may know her from magazines, as a women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem, author, and sought after national lecturer or appearances on Oprah, the Today Show, CNN and many more.  She did all that and was voted one of People magazines most “beautiful people” and she did all being true to who she is as a “plus-size” model!

Throughout her life and career she has learned many lessons about what beauty should mean to each of us and when it comes down to it, what is truly important and how to focus on that.

Two that really stuck out for me were;

-In the United States the average size for a woman is 14 yet designers create and display clothes for models. Seeing these images of small, perfect women is damaging to our psyches and makes feeling good about ourselves in the clothes that are available to us emotionally difficult. Size does not define you!  Rip the tags out!  When you see images that are “perfect” remember, they aren’t real!  Even supermodels don’t look in person like they do in magazines.

-After being diagnosed in 2008 with Stage 2 Hodgkins disease she had time for deep reflection during chemotherapy and wondered, “Am I happy?”  She realized that she wasn’t truly happy and decided to make a change.

Which leads to a question I have for you.  If you were suddenly diagnosed with a terrible disease or told that you only had days left here on Earth…would you really focus on how you looked or would you focus on being happy?  Why is it that we don’t see the beauty in our lives?  Why do we focus on what others have as our point of reference for happiness?

It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to others, let go of labeling ourselves by our size or possessions, and live our lives according to what really matters.

As we part I want to leave you with one thought and that is to start filling your heart and mind with only positive thoughts about ourselves!  Write down what is right about you, your life, and how you look.  What are your unique gifts and talents!  That my friends, is your radiance Factor!  Let is shine!

You can listen to the actual radio broadcast with Emme here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vividliferadio/2013/09/17/super-model-emme-focusing-on-your-pluses

Norwegian-Breakaway-SlideJoin the amazing Emme on the high seas to have a blast feeling better about who you are! https://www.emmecruise.com/