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

Top 10 Barriers to Self-Growth

Change can be scary as we feel new things, entertain different thoughts, perhaps leave old ways behind. Often, resistance to change can rear its ugly head whenever our egos feel threatened by some change in the status quo.  This resistance can take many forms, and is sometimes difficult to recognize in ourselves.  Here are 10 obstacles that can hinder self-growth.

1. Denial. It’s difficult to grow when you don’t see the need. Listen to the quiet voice inside and to what your loved ones are saying. Get the support you need to see the truth, because ultimately it’s the truth that will set you free.

2. Seeing yourself as a victim. If you’re always one-down, you can’t become the empowered person you are meant to be.  Staying trapped as a victim robs you of the opportunity to take charge and change how you react to a situation.

3. Substance abuse. Whether you’re self-medicating with food or alcohol, or seeking escape, the problems just don’t go away without the willingness to face them.  In fact, the problem only gets worse, because a new problem is created–like excess weight, or addiction–that takes the focus away from the root cause.

4. Self-loathing. Nothing banishes self-hatred faster than self-care. Choose in any moment the kindest path.  If a friend came to you with the same problem, what advice would you give her?  Use the same advice for yourself, and do it with love.

5. Blame. If we always point the finger at one another, we never see our own role.  Be willing to take responsibility for your part in contributing to the problem.

6. Defensiveness. This is a racket we swing against anything that suggests we might be at fault. Try to see “faults” […]

By |March 4th, 2010|Anger, Change, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

Why Therapy? Exploring the Strengths of Seeking Help

Long before there were therapists, there were family members. Grandpa and Aunt Jane listened, or gave us advice, or sometimes just told us to buck up. If family couldn’t help, there were friends or a clergy member. But most likely, we were also warned not to broadcast our troubles, and many people suffered their emotional problems silently.

Times have changed, and so has society’s acceptance of seeking help. The old stigma of being seen as weak or incapable is largely gone.  This has been helped tremendously by many well-known writers, actors and politicians being open about their struggles with, and treatments for, everything from depression to chronic shoplifting. Going to a therapist is now seen as a sign of strength and willingness to take charge of one’s life.  Rather than proof that someone is “sick,” it is a sign of good health to make a commitment to change.

What Makes Therapy Different?

You might be wondering what talking to a therapist will do that you can’t get from talking to a dear friend or family member. “Therapy is a unique relationship and what makes it valuable sets it apart from friendships, working partnerships, family connections and love affairs,” says Carl Sherman, author of How to Go to Therapy: Making the Most of Professional Help.

In his book, author Sherman describes therapy as a balance in which two people are “collaborating on a single project: helping you deal with your problems and achieve the change you want. There is no other agenda.”

It’s the simplicity of that agenda, combined with a structured schedule, confidentiality and trust, that make this unique relationship work so well for so many people. What’s more, the “unconditional positive regard” that characterizes all good […]

By |January 7th, 2010|Change, Tips|0 Comments

Stretch Out of Your Comfort Zone and Try Something New

When’s the last time you tried something new?  I mean really tried something new: a new haircut, a new way of doing something, a new hobby, or even something as simple as a new restaurant. We often get stuck in our habits and routines.  A grocery store commercial comes to mind, where a woman is shopping the aisles with her eyes closed, having picked the same products off the shelves for so long she knows exactly where they are through muscle memory alone.

Often habits go beyond the simple daily routines we keep.  They can apply to ways of thinking, feeling and behaving on a more serious level. Staying stuck in an unhealthy or dysfunctional pattern not only prevents you from living your best life, but can be self-destructive too.  For those of you who are stuck in health habits that keep you overweight and unhappy, you know all too well how hard it can be to break free from these patterns.

Why People Stay Stuck

One big reason people stay stuck is the comfort that comes from force of habit.  Better to stick with the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know, right?  Well, maybe not.  Comfort zones are limiting, preventing you from venturing out into new, unexplored territory.

Fear of change is another big reason. With fear come all the questions: what do I have to lose by changing?  What will I be giving up?  How hard will it be to try something new?  What if I fail?  What if it doesn’t last?  How do I know things will be better the new way, anyway?

There are no ready answers for these questions. But know that anything worth having usually comes through hard work, […]

By |March 5th, 2009|Change, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments

20 Tips for Assertive Communication

Most of us know that assertiveness will get us further in life than being passive or aggressive. But few of us were actually taught how to be assertive. Here are some helpful tips.

1. Choose the right time. Imagine you’re dashing down the hall on your way to a meeting. Lisa passes by. You call out, “Can you have the Acme Inc. project out by Tuesday?” Because you haven’t scheduled a special time to bring up the issue, Lisa has no reason to think your request deserves high priority.

2. Choose the right place. Discuss important issues in a private, neutral location.

3. Be direct. For example, “Lisa, I would like you to work overtime on the Acme Inc. project.” Whether or not Lisa likes your request, she will respect you for your directness.

4. Say “I,” not “we.” Instead of saying, “We need the project by Tuesday,” say, “I would like you to finish the project by Tuesday.”

5. Be specific. Instead of, “Put a rush on the Acme Inc. project,” say, “I would like the Acme Inc. project finished and on Joe’s desk by 9:00 Tuesday morning.”

6. Use body language to emphasize your words. ”Lisa, I need that report Tuesday morning,” is an assertive statement. But if you mumble this statement while staring at the floor, you undermine your message.

7. Confirm your request. Ask your staff to take notes at meetings. At the end of each meeting, ask your group to repeat back the specifics that were agreed upon. This minimizes miscommunication. This also works at home; when you and a family have a disagreement or important discussion; be sure to ask them to repeat back what you’ve asked of them.  Do the same for them.

8. Stand […]

By |February 5th, 2009|Anger, Change, Emotional Eating, 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

Drop the rope

For anyone who works, lives or deals with teenagers on a regular basis, you know how easily a power struggle can creep up on you. When I first started working with teens, this completely baffled me. I thought I was young and hip enough for them to consider me to be on their side (what a delusion!), but I would consistently find myself getting into these struggles that I knew I couldn’t win. I had a conversation with a colleague about this and she gave me a tip that would completely change how I approached my work with them.

When you find yourself in a power struggle, caught in a game of tug of war, just drop the rope. If you drop the rope, nobody wins and nobody loses. Don’t try to reason with them, don’t try to bribe, don’t try to force anything. Just let it go. State your point on move on to more productive things. When I tried this approach, it worked amazingly well. Instead of wasting time arguing a moot point, I focused on what was really going on and how to help the teen move past that.

I later realized this approach works with more than just teenagers. It also works with your relationship with yourself. How often do we get stuck in a tug of war between our emotions and our reason? Our emotions are telling us to do one thing (eat that delicious piece of pie!) and our reason is telling us another (you just finished dinner, you’re full, you don’t really need that piece of pie). The struggle is exhausting. What would happen if you just dropped the rope?

When you let go of the struggle between your emotions […]

By |January 20th, 2008|Change, Dieting, Emotional Eating, Tips|0 Comments