Picture this: Me. Standing on one foot, balanced on my tip toe, the other leg stretched in the air with one arm wrapped around it. The other arm is waving furiously. My face looks unhappy, flustered and tired.
Is this some new fancy yoga?
NO, THIS IS A REPRESENTATION HOW I FEEL WHEN I AM TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE. THIS IS ME OBSESSING OVER WHAT EVERYONE THINKS OF ME AND PLACING INACCURATE MEANING AND OVERBLOWN EXPECTATIONS ON MY PERCEPTION OF WHAT INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER PEOPLE MEANT.
It's terrifyingly exhausting.
In the last few years as my business has grown and my time in the public eye has expanded, and this feeling got worse and worse. Part of what perpetuated it was the amount of criticism I received grew proportionately to the business and my role as a public figure. The more YouTube views I got (yay!) the more trolls commented on my appearance or performance (boo.) I heard people on the street talking about my business and how I run it. People gave reviews to the business and me on the internet. The positive always has disproportionately outweighed the negative. But it was there.
I HATED IT. It made me angry and sad. I wanted to lay under my bed with a blanket OR I wanted to tell people who talked about me (to my face or behind my back) to F right off.
Now, neither of those feelings served me very well and I was too attached to the meaning of my work to allow the simultaneous feelings of 1. hating criticism and 2. wanting to make everyone happy make me stop what I was doing. So in self-reflection and over time, I decided to re-frame my relationship with criticism and develop some questions to deal with it:
#1: Do I care?
Looking for truth in criticism encourages growth, humility and self-reflection. It can be awesome! Change is amazing. BUT, there is also self-confidence and truth in electing to LET SOMETHING GO. When I hear a criticism of myself I am 1. grateful that I know and 2. I decide if I care. If I don't, I take that comment and let it go.
Do you think I am too "extra," over the top or loud? I DON'T CARE, I LIKE THAT ABOUT MYSELF.
Don't like my artistic choices in dance? TOO BAD. etc etc.
#2 Is it useful?
Going back to #1, criticism is an amazing self-development tool. I think the ability to change is amazing. I am different than I was 5 years ago and 5 months ago, and I am SO grateful for that. To that end, I ask myself "Is this criticism useful? Is it showing me something I can work on in myself?" And then, I re-frame it as a kind, loving comment to myself and figure out how to work on it. This question has allowed me to love what people say about me, because it allows me to get better.
#3 Do I want to address it?
As a scorpio (and a human!) I have an instinct to respond immediately. To defend myself. And, sometimes, this is not a good look. Experience shows us that tit for tat is not a useful tool for moving forward in life. One of the most important things I am developing in myself is slowed reaction time. I am actively working on stopping, breathing and then making a choice about how I want to respond to a comment, suggestion or action.
#4 I remind myself that I am awesome.
I know, this is not a question. It is a statement, and one that I repeat to myself often. I (and all of us) get opinions from everyone. I take them to heart, or I don't (per above,) and then I sit with myself. I spend time with no distractions. And I get clear that I like myself, with all my flaws. And I celebrate myself, both feet on the ground, calmly approaching life.
I have an exercise for you to do:
The next time you are tempted to say I’m sorry for something (for anything!) - I’d like you to replace it with something else,
I’d like you to say “You’re welcome.”
Lisa! <- that’s what you are thinking. "How can I do that?" "It’s so rude." "I'd sound so self-important!"
Ok, bear with me. I’m not advocating saying it every time. Maybe don’t even say it out loud (but I won't be mad at you if you did!)
Commit to being unapologetic. Stop telling the world that you are sorry. Be yourself in all your amazing and imperfect ways.
Unapologetic, by definition, is putting forward (i.e. putting anything out there) without apology or qualification. So this is my call to you to put yourself into the world without qualifying or apologizing for yourself.
DO IT TODAY
See what happens when you stop apologizing for anything that is an inherent part of who you are - DO NOT ever say "I'm sorry" for being yourself.
Oftentimes the idea of success is so removed from us because it seems sky high. Literally, floating above us, it is visible but we cannot touch it. How does one harness something so elusive?
This is because success is an abstract idea, one person’s success or wealth is very different than someone else’s idea and/or vision. And this can lead to frustration - how do I tap into something so up in the ether?
Oftentimes it is useful to take any idea or concept that we would like to achieve and define it - either with words or numerically.
Recently, I have been studying success, i.e. what are some of the key things that the people who are at the top of their fields do daily, in numbers. Check it out on your own journey to defining and achieving success.
5 The number of people closest to you that will help define your success. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who is one of the forefathers of the current self development genre, was famously quoted as saying “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” We are closely influenced by those we spend the most time from - ideas, activities and ethics. So choose wisely, who are you conversing with, spending time with and choosing to do business with. Choose to spend time with those who inspire you. AND spend time with those people who will lovingly tell you the truth.
And, as an extension of this idea, consider what you are doing and talking about when you spend time with people. A discussion about your hopes and dreams will have a positive outlook on your life, while gossiping about other people certainly will not.
3 The number of things to put on your to-do list every day. Although our list of things to get done get be immeasurable, sitting a list of everything to be done in every aspect of our life can be overwhelming. Overwhelm can lead to us turning off and not getting ANYTHING done.
So focus on a few (3) of the most essential things that are imperatives to get done on any day. I get up in the morning and write on a visible wipeboard the three things I WILL get done.
Now, this excludes things I do everyday - like answering emails or posting to social media. BUT, this method allows me to prioritize and schedule the things that are the most important. Addtionally, if you get more done then you feel more productive.
5 The days of the week you need to do planning! One of my favorite quotes is that “If you don’t have a plan for yourself, someone else does!” To that end, if you don’t have a schedule and prioritized “Must Do” activities, other things and people will take up your time and energy. On every work day I spend 5 minutes at the beginning and end of every day planning. This bookending of my schedule allows for maximum productivity as well as allowing for clear delineation between work and personal time. Here is my planning procedure:
End of the Day:
Beginning of the Day:
I just returned from co-facilitating a beautiful weeklong retreat. The retreat focused on dance and goal setting and we bonded, laughed and cried AND worked through our goals for the year. When the women arrived, they had a set idea of "what they wanted." Several expressed surprise (and excitement) when I didn't start our work with how to achieve your goals, I started with spending some time on figuring out exactly what you want.
Here's the thing, oftentimes we think we know what we want. But later we figure out that it's not what we actually wanted. Maybe it was a societal expectation (2 kids and a picket fence??) or maybe it is what our friends, parents or family want for us. In the next few articles, I will take time to detail the process to getting what you want, so then we can go out and get it!
Start by writing for 20 minutes, NO STOPPING, and start with "I want..." Write stream of consciousness and detail what you want in your life. Let go of expectations and let go of fear. Write about the things, people, feelings and places that you want to be a part of you life. Keep your pen moving! Consider all the aspects of life - work, spirituality, how you look, feel and act, relationships etc. LIMITATIONS EXSIST ONLY IN YOUR MIND.
Review the list and highlight or circle anything that comes up more than once. Or, highlight anything you feel strongly about. Do you have a positive physical response (sitting forward, feeling of excitement etc) when reading any of your I wants? Circle them! Then, make a list and estimate when you expect to reach those goals. Challenge yourself! If all of your wants are short term, think about the future and vice versa.
CHALLENGE: PICK OUT THE 4 MOST IMPORTANT GOALS FOR YOU THIS YEAR! THIS IS WHERE YOU START! THINK ABOUT WHY YOU WANT TO DO THESE THINGS. IF YOU FEEL STRONGLY ENOUGH ABOUT IT - YOU WILL DO IT! THIS IS WHERE YOU PROVE TO YOURSELF WHAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH. PICK ONE ACTION TO MOVE TOWARDS EACH GOAL AND DO IT TODAY!
Write measurable specific goals with due dates. Re-write each goal as measurable and pick a date you'd like to achieve it by. For example "I want to be healthy" turns into "I will go to the gym 3x/week for the next 4 weeks."
Write about what it will feel like when you are finished. What will that moment look and feel like? Savor this! Connect to this as the motivation to get started.
Make a list of resources. What parts of your toolkit (whatever you need to accomplish this goal) do you already have? What do you need and how can you get it? What characteristics, friends, supplies, time, energy etc. Fill up your toolbox so you are ready to go.
Create a step-by-step plan. List out all the action step needed to get to that goal. Each step must not contain multiple actions. Then go back and assign a date to each step. Then, WRITE IT DOWN. Use your to-do-list or calendar.
Who else has done what you want to do? Wether is it your bestie or Oprah, do your research and see what they did. This is a study in best practices. Learn learn learn!
Speak it outloud! Tell a coach or trusted friend! Speaking it outloud starts to make it a reality!
ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL. The human form and physical ability is miraculous. I do not believe that one shape is better than another and I don't believe in a "good" or "bad" body.
SHAPE AND WEIGHT DO NOT DEFINE VALUE. I love to workout. I enjoy getting smaller or bigger depending on what I am working on. However, I don't think my value (or yours!) changes based on shape. I don't think thin women are bitches and I don't think that larger people are unworthy.
I BELIEVE IN FEELING GOOD. Weight is bullshit and has to do with your relationship with gravity. Who cares - my weight fluctuates and so will yours. However, I believe in feeling good and being able to live your life - i.e. lifting heavy things, running and jumping. I recently went back to an eating style that does well for me and I lost weight. I am happy because I feel good. If I felt crappy, I would stop.
I BELIEVE IN MOVEMENT. There are enormous neurological, physiological and emotional benefits to moving. I believe in fitness. I think you should find a way that feels good for you to move. I also think you should eat in way that makes you feel good and supports your lifestyle.
I BELIEVE IN PERSONAL CHOICE. If you want to lose weight, gain weight, tattoo yourself, augment yourself, change because it makes you feel good. DO IT.
Imagine that you walk into a party. You have a friend who is out of town, and they asked you to send pictures of the fun you are having at the party.
When you walk in there is a large crowd of people laughing and having fun. They turn as you come in and smile with excitement. In the back corner of the room there are two people who have excluded themselves from the fun. They are sitting among empty chairs frowning with their arms crossed.
If you took your camera and focused on the two upset people you'd be telling your friend a very different story than if you focused on the large group of people having fun in front of you.
LIFE IS JUST LIKE THIS PARTY.
WHATEVER WE FOCUS ON BECOMES OUR REALITY.
In 1914, Thomas Edison was 67. His life's work was in his labratory. That labratory burned down. At the scene everyone was shocked because he was excited. Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "I'm so excited, what an opportunity, I'll start all over again tomorrow." He continued his work without losing any employees. HE FOCUSED ON THE OPPORTUNITY IN THE SITUATION.
Maggie, one of my clients, desperately wanted to be in a relationship. She went on several dates a week but there was something just a little off about everyone. She was so distraught. She would go on dates FOCUSING on what could possibly go wrong. We worked on mindset, changed her focus. She started looking for what she wanted and found Mr. Right.
We all know and acknowledge that words have power. They can make us laugh or cry. They can uplift or they can damage us. Words create actions, emotions and have enormous power. We see this every day.
And yet, while we see this so powerfully on a large and intimate scale, I am shocked by how I hear women talking about themselves. A few examples from the past week:
Women who beat themselves down verbally will have a beat down life and experience. Women who CHOOSE to speak with amazing, colorful, rich worlds of themselves and their experiences have amazing, colorful and rich experiences.
Changing habitual vocabulary can cause instant change to how you think. How you think affects how you feel. AND how you feel affects how you live.