worthiness

Enough is Enough with Feeling “Not Enough”

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As the fifteen women shuffled in, nervously, awkwardly, some excitedly, some quietly, some chattering, hugging. Shifting into seats, we took some minutes to settle into the room and the circle before beginning our workshop.

I began by passing out blank sheets of paper and asking each woman to write down five insecure thoughts that she had since entering the room.  Not one of them hesitated to begin scribbling their insecurities. I collected these anonymous lists and put them in a box. “We’re letting these go for now, we’re putting them aside,” I explained. I put the box outside of the room. “If you want to grab them on your way out later, feel free.”

No one did. I ended up going home with fifteen very interesting lists. Around twelve of them mentioned their bellies, and not in very kind ways. Thirteen of them listed feeling fat. Many of them wrote of being concerned about saying something stupid. Not fitting in. Regretting what they wore. Concerned about being judged. And this is typical. Nothing unique here. We do this often, and we do this well.

Renowned father-and-daughter psychologists Dr.’s Robert and Lisa Firestone have done extensive research on our insecurities, and they have found these to be the most common…

  • You’re stupid.

  • You’re unattractive.

  • You’re not like other people.

  • You’re a failure.

  • You never get anything right.

  • No one will ever love you.

  • You’re fat.

  • You’re such a loser.

It’s a painful reality that we are our own worst enemies, that there is most likely no one in our lives as critical, and even cruel as we are to ourselves.

I think it’s safe to say that pretty much every single one of your insecurities, and mine, boil down to one false belief we seem to all insidiously carry, some of us better at hiding it than others…

I am not enough.

Enough is enough, already.

I’m forty-six years old and I do not want to waste another minute of my life feeling not enough. Yet, still sometimes the feeling comes in uninvited waves, parting, receding, flaring up, dying down, depending on a variety of factors. Sometimes a beautiful ray of clarity will shine through me, and it reminds me of a new commitment…

When do you get to be enough, Lisa?

And I ask you, when do YOU get to be enough?

How about now?

Not when you lose that 20, 40, 60 pounds. Not when you get that man or have that baby or get that job or degree or house or whatever.

Your enoughness is implicit, because you are. Because you exist.

It’s a tricky dance, this fluctuation between wanting to be better and being enough. Some might say I am in the self-improvement business, or so it seems.

Truth of the matter is, I am in the emergence business. I am only interested in bringing forth what is within you, what is within me. We are born with our innate brilliance, our enoughness, already existing inside of us. We simply have to tap it, cultivate it, birth it.  “Improvement” is moot. Accessing is paramount. Enoughness almost seems paradoxical- and it is:

I am enough. AND I am emerging into a more brilliant and powerful version of myself.

I am always enough.

If we could remember that, all the time, in a perfect world, in a perfect brain, we would have no more insecurities. Our enoughness would be enough. Sure, we might be attracted to making positive changes to live more brilliantly, to make our experience here more awesome. While being enough.

How the hell does one even go about practicing enoughness?

It boils down to taking control of the thoughts we think, of changing course when our brain wants to go down that dark path, stopping it in its tracks, shifting it, taking charge of it. You are not the thought. You are the thinker of the thought. You’re the boss. Start acting like it.

Wouldn’t you rather think (and know) that you are enough, and do your life’s work from a compassionate, loving place? Sure, who wouldn’t?

To do so, we must begin to shift our thoughts– stop them dead in their tracks, choosing new thoughts. Practicing new thoughts.

I am enough. I am always enough.

So the next time you feel insecure thoughts attempting to wreak havoc in your mind, I challenge you to…

  1. Stop the thought– BAM. Catch it. Stop it.

  2. Strip the thought. What’s underneath it? (Hint: It’s always “I am not enough”.)

  3. Replace the thought. I am enough. I am a beautiful work in progress. I am an evolving, eternal being full of potential, and perfect in the right now place of my evolution.

  4. Breathe into those new thoughts, slowly. Really. Use your breath. Even if you don’t believe the thoughts, breathe into the possibility of them. When you affirm a new thought,  it doesn’t automatically work like some instant magic pixie dust, POOF. But you do create a welcoming place for it to take root. We’re talking new synapses that must form here, brain chemistry being altered, science, man. But we do get to choose.

I, for one, am really tired of the insidious toxicity of not-enoughness. It’s a liar, and a cheat. It’s already cost us too much. It’s wasted too much of our precious time. It’s destroyed too many lives.

I am enough. I am always enough. And so are you. Pass it on.

Baby, You’re Worth It.

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Click for video. What if this was your anthem for 2018?

It happens every year. Millions of us start the year with determination and resolve…

This is The Year.I will eat healthier. I will exercise more. I will create new habits to work toward my dreams…

And then, one by one, by February, almost all resolutions have been dumped by the side of the road, like last year’s Christmas tree.

And does that mean you failed at resolutions, or did the resolutions fail you?

There are a few theories I have about why this happens, why we start strong with such good intentions, such fierce determination, only to eventually fizzle out.

The bottom line is this. Resolutions rarely work.

Yet we are so quick to blame ourselves.

If I was just determined enough, disciplined enough, focused enough, we often think. If only I had more will power.

Ahh, will power. That evasive, invisible force that seems to start strong and fresh each morning, only to evaporate by day’s end.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about change, commitment, creating healthy new habits and ditching old, unhealthy ones, in hopes that you’ll feel extra supported as you move deeper into 2018, hopefully with your commitments strengthening.

But here’s where it starts, my lovely friend.

You must believe you are worthy of your desires.

You’ve gotta believe, all the way to your core, that you deserve this.

And I think all too often, deep down inside, we don’t really believe in our own deservability.

Getting healthier takes extra time and effort. Shopping, chopping, slicing and dicing veggies for a salad is, ugh… so much more time-consuming and expensive than say, Jack in the Box drive-thru.

And you are so worth it.

The next time you are going the extra mile for yourself, hassling over yourself, chopping, dicing, juicing, getting your butt to the gym in cold, crappy weather, paying for dance classes, whatever that extra effort might be, what if you turned your effort or extra hassle into an act of devotion, instead? An act of worthiness and deservability. An act of love.

What if you repeated this to yourself, over and over? I am worth the effort.

Baby, I’m worth it.

Think about the things you have done for others that are time-consuming and take extra effort.

Maybe you drove all over town looking for that special Christmas list item for your kid. Because your children are worth the effort.

Maybe you are dating someone you’re crazy about and you spent hours in the kitchen preparing a special dinner for them. Because that person is worth the effort.

Maybe you spent hours knitting that scarf for your favorite cousin. Because she is worth the effort.

It’s so easy to do these extra things for the people we care about, because they are worth it. Their smiles, their satisfaction, their happiness matters to us.

And you, my friend, are also worth the effort. You are so worth the effort.

I’ll never forget my fantastic client Jennifer, that told me how her amazing, succulent wild woman, poet aunt, responds, when receiving a gift from someone…

“You are so good to me, and I am so deserving.”

Don’t you just love that?

We are so deserving.

And in a couple weeks, (or days!) when your resolutions or intentions for 2018 start to lose their luster, falling flat, like the carbonation fizzled out of a soda… remind yourself.

You are worth the effort.

Every ounce of extra effort it takes for you to be, do or have whatever it is you want, is worth it.

Because you are deserving, so deserving.

Believe it, know it.

And remind yourself, as you course down the aisles of that pricey health food store, or write that check for the yoga pass, or power through cravings as you break that nicotine habit, or dice and slice and chop your ingredients all Sunday afternoon for your weekly meal prep.

I am so deserving.

Baby, I’m worth it.

Four Out of Four

 

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When I was in my early twenties, taking public transit everywhere, on the south side of Chicago, I was harassed by men, every single day. Regularly cat-called, propositioned, sometimes they flashed their dicks or masturbated at red lights while I stood at the bus stop. Sometimes they followed me, circling the block several times, trying to lure me to take rides from them. Sometimes I was very scared. Mostly, I was furious.

I wanted to fight back. I was tired of feeling like a victim, like I just had to take this. I began a ‘strategy’ of pulling out a notebook and writing down license plates. I wanted to scare them into thinking they might get in trouble. It helped me feel empowered. Sometimes it did scare them off, sometimes it didn’t. 

I was a pre-school teacher, I worked for a woman in her mid-forties, the owner of the school, Lori. I’d come in to work some days shaken and scared, or furious and raging. She told me I should dress differently. She told me “someday you’ll miss that, trust me.”

I’m in my mid-forties now. I get harassed less on the street now. I’m rarely scared for my safety. I haven’t seen a stranger’s dick waving at me at a red light in many years. And no, Lori, I don’t miss all that, not one bit.

I’m thinking about this today, because there’s a national conversation going on, about sexual harassment. Another rich, powerful man has come into public light as a sexual predator. Women everywhere are talking. Sharing our personal stories.

“One in four” is a statistic we commonly hear. It applies specifically to rape and physical sexual assault. One in four is too many, and further research shows that’s probably not even an accurate number, that it’s likely even higher. But if violence against women is a spectrum, with rape and murder at the far end of the spectrum, every one of us, as women, has endured, survived, or not survived, some sort of abuse, from men, in our lifetimes. This is part of the female experience in America. Like getting our periods, or experiencing puberty, or menopause. This is not one in four. How “generously” short-sighted to create the implication that three out of four of us are left unscathed by sexual violence from men.

We must begin to understand that sexual abuse or violence is not limited to rape or physical assault. We are coming to realize that it’s so pervasive, it’s universal. This is the free bonus that comes with being born a female.

If rape and murder are at one far end of the spectrum, the ultimate, most devastating violations, what’s at the other end? Mansplaining, says Kelly Diels, Feminist Marketing Consultant. I think I agree. A little further along is cat-calling. Comments, gropey hugs, seething noises, indecent exposures, unwanted advances, following, inappropriate propositions, abuse of power for sexual gratification… there are countless ways to be sexually abused. How many marks could we plot, on our personal spectrums, if we were to tally our individual experiences? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

I’m thinking a lot about my boss Lori today. Maybe because I’m about the age she was when she said those things to me. What had Lori internalized, in her lifetime, about being a woman, about her worth as a female, about aging, attention, desirability? What beliefs did she have, deeply rooted in her, that made her think that these attentions were somehow enviable (when she wasn’t telling me I was asking for it)? One thing I’m pretty certain of – she did not invent them.

She was about twice my age, born of a different generation, called herself a feminist. Yet… did she really miss being harassed? What kind of twisted bedfellows had she made of validation and abuse? How different we are. Yet, our similarities are less savory to consider.

I think about what I was wearing back then… some days a thick, heavy coat, during the bitter cold of winter. I was bundled up for below-zero temps one of the times a guy was masturbating “for me” at the red light, while I stood, nauseated, at my bus stop, pretending not to notice, praying for the light to change. But some days, in the summertime, I wore short shorts and tight tank tops. It was hot out. And on those days, I was harassed more frequently, no doubt. So what message was I sending, by wearing the clothing I chose to wore, and showing the skin I chose to reveal? Was I asking for it? Of course not. I know this, on one level, the wise part of me knows this. But the world we live in has taught me otherwise. I must be vigilant in identifying these messages, these lies. I must pluck them out of my belief system, one by one. They are bacteria. They keep my system infected.

What a multi-layered, tangled mess of messages and lessons, myths and lies we’ve been fed, so muddled and mucky it may take us generations to unravel them.

And if I am truly honest with myself, sometimes, when I am out with friends, for example, feeling beautiful, I want to be noticed. I want to be wanted. As a “woman of a certain age,” I find myself occasionally missing the response I would get from men, in public, when I was in my twenties and thirties. Not the harassment, of course, but the noticing. I refuse to feel shame for this. And for Lori, maybe harassment was just a seedier form of being noticed. And maybe any noticing at all, to her, was more appealing than feeling invisible. Like Lori, there is a shadowy part of me that connects desirability with my value as a woman, I know this is a lie, but it’s deep in there, because in our culture, the greatest perceived threat to a woman’s value is aging. 

I remember, in my early 30s, being at a gas station with a girlfriend, Jennie, getting gas and cigarettes on a Saturday night, on our way to the club. A couple of men made seething noises and called to us in Spanish, and she went off. She screamed and raged and called them names and maybe even banged her fist on the hood of their car, and told them to fuck themselves, screamed at them, asking if they had daughters, if they had wives. Called them fucking perverts.

I was shocked, I had never seen a response like this. A far cry from my little notebook and license plate strategy. I was partly in awe. And I was partly embarrassed. She’d caused a scene. Her rage made me uncomfortable. And I was still very committed to being inoffensive, nice and demure. Ladylike and tolerant. I had stopped using the notebook many years before. My strategy had become to ignore, pretend they didn’t exist, pump my gas and look the other way.

I’m still harassed at times. My reaction now is more likely to meet him eye to eye and say loudly enough for others to hear: “NO. NOT OKAY!” while I point a rigid finger toward his face… if I’m feeling brave. Yet sometimes, I say nothing, and pretend to not have seen or heard. How to respond, if to respond, how to stay safe, to take back our power, to not risk further interaction, this is an ongoing, play-by-play consideration in our inner worlds, as women.

Each of us, as women, have our own stories of experiencing inappropriate and offensive behavior from men. I don’t think any of us have been exempt from sexual harassment of one kind or another. Four out of four.

When does it end? How does it end? I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I know one thing. The more we talk about it, the more light we shed on these shadowy realities, the more we call out and demand accountability of men, demand to be treated with respect, refuse to tolerate these behaviors any longer, the more we say “NO. NOT OKAY!” the safer we become. The mightier we become.

We’ve played nice-girl long enough. We’ve been ladylike long enough. It’s time we said  “NO. NOT OKAY!”

And when the situation calls for it, like my friend Jennie, we need to make people uncomfortable with our rage. 

We need more men to join us, to say “NO. NOT OKAY!” along with us. I see it happening, and it gives me hope.

I have hope, for our daughters, and our granddaughters.

Maybe someday sexual harassment and abuse will not be a universal part of the female experience. Or am I only dreaming? I know this much. Being a woman does not equate being subject to harassment as part of life. We must stop normalizing this. We must say NO, NOT OKAY. And mean it.

 

The Truth About Your Relentless Inner Critic

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“The day of unfailing, gorgeous confidence isn’t coming.
Self-doubt will always be a part of what we each work with as we take steps to play bigger.”

– Tara Mohr

Sorry to share this dismal news, but guess what? It really isn’t that dismal, I promise. Keep reading!

Almost every client that hires me expresses her desire to possess more confidence. In fact, I do not know a single person without some degree of insecurity and self-doubt, at least some of the time. And the ones that claim otherwise are faking it, I am certain.

Unfortunately, I think some of us imagine a day in the future when we will move through the world with a complete lack of self-doubt, 100% self-assured and self-confident at all times, and remember with a sweet nostalgia, those days gone-by when we used to feel insecure or unsure of ourselves. “But not anymore.”

As Tara tells us above, that day is not coming. There is some good news though, before we take to crying in our coffee and giving up the fight for a confident life of boldness and courage.

Tara goes on to say, in her profound and stirring book, “Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message”

“The name of the game is not eliminating self-doubt. The name of the game is learning how to let the inner critic do its thing, without taking direction from it. The goal is to hear the inner critic’s voice but not let that voice determine your choices.”

See, I cannot and do not promise anyone I coach the erasure or elimination of self-criticism or doubt. But what I do know how you can transform your relationship to it. I’ve done it. But let me clarify, it’s not something that gets “done” and “Bam! All finished! Glad that self-criticizing phase of my life is over!” I wish.

Living a life untethered and undetermined by my self-criticism is an everyday practice. And when I slack, trust me, insecurities and self-doubt flare up like a pain cycle.

And one more zinger I’ll share from Playing Big… “You don’t have to win the argument with your inner critic; you have to step away from the conversation.”

Step away from the conversation.

When we begin to shift our lives from playing small to playing a bigger game, we can bank on and anticipate our inner critic to jump into position, like a sleeping guard that monitors the borders of our comfort zones. Because the Inner Critic is an expression of the safety instinct we each possess. It’s just doing its job. It feels threatened when you leave the safety of your comfort zone.

Our Inner Critic thinks that by relentlessly belittling us, frightening us, reminding us of our supposed flaws and shortcomings that we will stay nice and safe. Fortunately, we can begin to see this ploy for what it is- safety measures.

We can begin to observe the craftiness of our Inner Critic and separate its voice from our truth. We are not the voice.

We can begin to employ tools and techniques that will quiet the voice. Not with violence or anger, but with love and compassion. For real!

So let’s start there, with the noticing. When it turns up its volume, we can even begin to greet our Inner Critic with a certain sense of gratitude, for it surely must mean we are treading outside of the boundaries of our comfort zones, crossing the border from ideas to reality, and we then we can say “Thank you for doing your job. But I got this.” as we boldly move right through it, blowing it a kiss on the way.

 

 

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Originally published September 2015

 

Be Your Valentine: The Bad-Ass Brazen Art of Self-Devotion

de·vo·tion [dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication; consecration.
2. earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty.

Devotion is my new favorite word. Not only do I love the way it sounds… delightful… divine… devotion. I love what it means.

What are you devoted to?

These days, I’m cultivating a sweet self-devotion. Which turns the definition into THIS:

self-devotion [self-dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication to me; consecration to myself
2. earnest attachment to moi
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty to my own self!

YEAAAH, that’s what I’m talking about.

What does that mean for me? What are the implications of this commitment? Well, there are many. New ones pop up daily, in fact.

Today, self-devotion means…

– listening to my body when this head cold has knocked me down for a rest
– checking in to see what I really want to do, eat, drink.
– napping because that’s what I need
– clearing my schedule as an act of self-care, in spite of that critical voice that says I could not/should not do so.
– pajamas, all day long.

Other days it’s much more serious, and more difficult, uncomfortable, vulnerable:

– standing up for myself when I feel disrespected by a peer
– expressing an unspoken insecurity to my partner
– refusing to be mistreated by a cranky cashier

Now, more than ever, I am realizing how every choice I make is either an act of self-devotion, or it is not. It either helps me feel lighter, or creates a sense of heaviness. It either feels like love or feels like fear.

Wanting to devote to yourself? Here’s the interesting thing. You don’t have to feel any certain “preliminary” way toward yourself to act in devoted ways. In fact, the decision to devote to yourself is followed by actions and choices, and those actions and choices create profound self-love.

Self-devotion cultivates trust, and with devoted practice, a sweet and romantic, everlasting loyalty and kindness to oneself will blossom.

Keep in mind, self-devotion is an act of audacity. A bold and brazen promise to yourself, to dote on yourself, to spoil yourself with lavish attention and affection.

Are your choices today a reflection of someone who is devoted to herself? And if they are not, can you start now? What one loving choice can you make as an act of self-devotion?

This Valentine’s Day, first and foremost, be your own Valentine, always and forever, for better or for worse.

After all, lovers come and lovers go, but you… you will always have you.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

 
 
Originally published February 2013.

Make it stop: The painful truth about negative self-talk

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Last week, we sat in circle in my living room, my BodyLove Affair coaching group, our reason for gathering, the shared desire to experience more loving relationships with our bodies.

Having each spent our lives judging, loathing, struggling, battling, at odds with these bodies, we come together weekly to heal, to work, to change the story.

We sat in circle, these three brave clients and me, and I asked them to create a list of the cruel things they say to themselves, about themselves, about their bodies.

They wrote for a few minutes, scribbling furiously.

I went on to share what would happen next. It went along these lines…

You want to change this relationship? It doesn’t change until we do things differently.

We must become police, master protectors, diligent security guards, docents in our museum, stopping ourselves in our tracks when we are endangering ourselves.

Then, I threw them for a loop. “We’re going to play BodyLove Affair Theatre.”

We’d been talking for the last couple weeks about tools and tricks for stopping these thoughts in their tracks, and now we were going to practice.

I invited them to pass their lists to the woman next to them, who would play the part of her partner’s negative self-talk-voice. While armed with another list, the partner would rebut, interrupt and argue, snapping back with kinder, more loving alternate thoughts. Various snappy truths and come-backs.

Knowing that these negative thoughts we’d written were highly personal, I made this surrendering of our lists completely optional. If they so desired, they could pass their list to the woman next to them for some role-play.

This is where it got interesting… this is where the cringing began.

Of course, as one might expect, it felt uncomfortable to have another read and know the way we talk to ourselves. That shit is private. And ugly.

But even more interesting to me was the reaction of the role players, when handed the lists to read.

When R. bravely handed her list to S., S. took a moment to read quietly, and the look on her face was pure discomfort. She scanned down the list for one that she could say out loud to R., so that R., could practice her new thoughts. Tension seemed to be growing in the air. She became visibly uncomfortable.

“I can’t.” she finally shook her head.

The room hushed in a holy reverence, a shared knowing.

“I can’t say these things to her. They’re too mean.”

“Can you pick just a couple?” I urged. And she did, face cringing, body tightening, shoulders rising in discomfort.

It was awful to speak these things to anyone, out loud. We could feel this. We heard it with our own ears, and saw with our own eyes.

After S. bravely read some awful things out loud, R. bravely responded with new thoughts, arguments, rebuttals.

We applauded both women’s courage, and switched partners.

Again, and again, each of us, myself included, found it painfully difficult to say the things out loud that our Theatre partner had written. It was torturous. Miserable. Why?

Because we don’t talk to people this way.

Because words are powerful. And certain words hurt.

Because we are kind and loving people.

Yet…

Yet, this is the way we talk to ourselves, with language so unkind, it can barely be uttered by another. “I can’t do it.” S. had said. Eventually she did, but not without a pained expression and hating every moment of it.

I’ve heard it said a million times, and so have you, in so many different ways.

We would never talk to others the way we talk to ourselves.

Yet, that night, I saw it. I witnessed it in action, and it wasn’t just painful.

It was nearly impossible.

And so I urge you, my friend, start by watching, witnessing the way you speak to yourself.

Catch yourself. Notice. It must start with noticing.

This is not how you would speak to anyone else, ever.

It would hurt you to utter those words to another. It would hurt them. And yet, to the one who is closest in the world to you, your Self, this vicious criticism comes so naturally.

Make it stop.

For the love of the goddess you are, the holiness, the divinity that is you, for the love of the sweet friend within, make it stop.

Interrupt. Resist. Counter. Argue. Talk back. Mouth off. Change the subject. You are worth this diligence.

You don’t deserve to be spoken to that way. No one does.