Shedding Layers: The Key to Bringing Out Your Best Self

With spring in full swing, many people are ready to shake off the heaviness of winter. Yes, it means you can now go outside and play, but it also means you can’t do it while hiding behind your winter clothes.  Shame, self-loathing, and a sense of panic to lose weight NOW are only further fuelled by those ads urging you to “get ready for bikini season.” Well, what if you didn’t have succumb to those pleas to “melt away layers of fat” – what if there was a better way?

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about shedding more than just your winter coat and that extra weight. Instead of focusing just on losing weight, think about the internal layers that need to be shed so that your inner “happy and healthy” self can break free!

The Layers that Keep Us Stuck

Here are some of the different levels of layers that make us who we are (from the outside in):

Physical layers:

* Stuff: a lot of household clutter is a sure sign that you’re hanging on to a lot of “stuff.” The things we keep are often tied to the past and future, not the present.  We either can’t get rid of an item because it reminds us of something from our past, or hold onto it because it might be useful in the future (“I’ll get around to it some day!”).  Either way, you end up feeling buried and trapped by it.

* Clothing: our personal sense of style (or lack thereof!) makes a statement about how we want people to see us.  We can either let our beauty shine through, or stay hidden behind drab, lifeless or baggy clothes.

* Weight: […]

By |April 8th, 2010|Beliefs, Change|0 Comments

The Importance of Self-Love

The legend of Narcissus tells of a young boy who, upon seeing his reflection in a clear fountain with water like silver, fell hopelessly in love with himself. Unable to tear his gaze away from his reflection, he could not eat, could not sleep, until finally, he pined away and died.

Unfortunately, the myth of Narcissus is too often our concept of self-love. We believe that if we love ourselves, we are selfish and self-centered, that falling in love with self means conceit and self-absorption. In fact, the opposite is true. Self-love is an honoring of the self that requires a high degree of independence and courage. The love we give others will be enhanced by the love we give ourselves.

The Problem with not Loving Yourself

A lack of self-love is a sign of low self-esteem or self-worth and shows its face in many ways: a refusal to enjoy life, workaholism, perfectionism, procrastination, emotional eating, guilt, and shame. Those who lack self-love avoid commitments, stay in destructive relationships, and fail to experience true intimacy with anyone. They practice negative self-talk, compare themselves with others, compete with others, caretake others and fail to take care of themselves. Unlike Narcissus, when they look in a mirror, they turn away.

The primary difference in those who practice self-love and those who don’t is their belief about themselves. “Of all the judgments that we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our existence,” said Nathaniel Branden in his book on self-esteem, “Honoring the Self.”

The Gift of Self-Love

Unable to love ourselves, we are our own harshest critics, fault finders, nay-sayers and naggers. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No […]

By |February 4th, 2010|Beliefs, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

How to Be Less of a Perfectionist and Enjoy Life More

This is the second of a series of two articles that explore the dynamics of perfectionism. In my last article, you learned what perfectionism is and why people develop the need to do things perfectly. In this one, you will learn how to change your perfectionist behaviors and enable yourself to be more satisfied with yourself and your life.

You will have the greatest success if you read the first article and take some time to observe your own perfectionist patterns. Once you have accomplished that, choose a few of the strategies outlined here. Keep working at it until you understand what you need to do to accept your imperfections and humanness.

Create a Support Network for Yourself
Seek out people who are not perfectionists. Encourage your support network to not be rigid or moralistic in their attempts to keep you on an honest course. Look for people who forgive and forget when mistakes, failures, offenses, or backsliding occur. Ask them to tell you when they think you are being rigid, unrealistic, or idealistic in your behavior. Ask them to give you positive reinforcement for any positive change, no matter how small. Seek out people who have a sincere interest in your personal growth.

Do Some Self-Exploration
Explore the following questions in your journal, print this out and make some notes here, or discuss them with a trusted friend or professional counselor:

1. Where do you see perfectionististic behavior in your life?

2. How do these behaviors create problems for you?

3. What perfectionistic beliefs do you have?

4. How do you think these beliefs will affect your ability to change your behavior?

5. What do you need to do to become less of a perfectionist and be more relaxed about things?

6. How can […]

By |August 6th, 2009|Beliefs, Tips|0 Comments

Managing Perfectionism

This is the first of two articles that address perfectionism. In this one, we will explore what perfectionism is and why it is destructive. In the second one, we will take a look at some strategies for both controlling the need to be perfect and living a more relaxed, satisfying life.

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionists aspire to be top achievers and do not allow themselves to make even a single mistake. They are always on the alert for imperfections and weaknesses in themselves and others. They tend to be rigid thinkers who are on the lookout for deviations from the rules or the norm.

Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. People who pursue excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in working to meet high standards. Perfectionists are motivated by self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection. The high producer has drive, while the perfectionist is driven.

Causes and Characteristics

* Fear of failure and rejection. The perfectionist believes that she will be rejected or fail if she is not always perfect, so she becomes paralyzed and unable to produce or perform at all.

* Fear of success. The perfectionist believes that if he is successful in what he undertakes, he will have to keep it up. This becomes a heavy burden–who wants to operate at such a high level all of the time?

* Low self-esteem. A perfectionists need for love and approval tend to blind her to the needs and wishes of others. This makes it difficult or impossible to have healthy relationships with others.

* Black-and-white thinking. Perfectionists see most experiences as either good or bad, perfect or imperfect. There is nothing in between. The perfectionist believes that the flawless product or superb performance […]

By |July 2nd, 2009|Beliefs, Depression, Tips|0 Comments

The power of positive affirmations

Although some of you may have heard of positive affirmations, you may not be sure exactly what they are or what they can do for you.  In a nutshell, they can be an extremely powerful tool to challenge and overcome the negative beliefs that hold you back.  In this article, I explain what positive affirmations are, why they can help you, and how to implement them in a simple 3-step plan.

How Negative Beliefs Limit You

I’d like you think about an area in your life that you are struggling with.  Perhaps you’ve been unable to progress in your career, or have been trying to lose the same 10 pounds (or more) for the last several years.  It is very likely that part of what’s holding you back is a belief system that limits you.  For example, perhaps deeps down inside you believe that you don’t deserve that promotion, or that you deserve to be thinner.

The tricky thing with negative beliefs is that we are often unaware that we have them. And because they are outside of our conscious awareness, they become all the more dangerous, sneaking their way into our thoughts.  If you truly believe that you do not deserve to be happy or healthy, then you will unwittingly sabotage yourself each time you are faced with a new opportunity for growth.  Those who have tried to diet and failed many times over know how true this can be; each new attempt to lose weight results in frustration and hopelessness.

Negative beliefs work their dark magic in three ways. First, they do not allow you to progress beyond their upper limits.  You can only be as happy or healthy as your beliefs will allow […]

By |July 4th, 2008|Beliefs, Change, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

If I lose the weight, I’ll be happy

I read a nice little post today by Oprah’s personal trainer, Bob Greene: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/200708/omag_200708_worry_101.jhtml

In it, he describes the familiar pattern that a lot of people who struggle with their weight get sucked into: “If only I could lose X pounds, I’d be happier.” Think about whether you’ve ever had this thought, consciously or subconsciously.  If so, does it help motivate you?  Or does the fear of actually losing the weight and then not being happy hold you back?  What can you do today to actually be happier, whether or not you actually lose the weight?

By |June 23rd, 2008|Beliefs, Change, Oprah|0 Comments