|A Special Invitation to all of my This Way Up Readers . . .
The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
― Oprah Winfrey
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. And we need to learn to love ourselves first.”
― John Lennon
This post was from 2017 – but it was so relevant that I decided to repost it . . .
Self-Love. Why do so many of us find that concept so difficult? One of the most common things that I hear from women in workshops is that they think the worst of themselves and usually have difficulty prioritizing themselves.
Why is it that some people, the Donald Trumps of the world, seem to believe only the best about themselves, while others—perhaps especially women —seize on the most self-critical thoughts they can come up with? “It turns out there’s an area of your brain that’s assigned the task of negative thinking,” says Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.” This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it’s actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. “The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity,” says Brizendine, “is that we’ve been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing.”
Interesting that this article was from the August 2008 O Magazine. The comparison to the Donald Trumps of the world is more apt than ever! (Although I would like to point out that there is a huge distinction between narcissism and self-love!) And in these dark and difficult times, when there is a constant reminder of how much is at stake, fear is rampant. So self-love is more important than ever. We need love to conquer the fear that many of us are feeling in response to the political insanity that has gripped the world at the moment.
In an article that I recently published in Thrive Global, I wrote about just this phenomenon – Why Self-Love is So Important During Difficult Times. In this article I quote an important point by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:
“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
So if we want to stay in a place of love instead of a place of fear, we have to learn to love ourselves first. We cannot pour from an empty cup, we must be filled up. And one way to fill your cup is to prioritize yourself, pamper yourself!
So if you have the time and the inclination, may I suggest a lovely retreat to Bali! Rejuvenate Spa Retreats is offering a stunning 9 day retreat in
Bali! You can read all about it here. This is the Third annual Bali Retreat my business partner Deb and I have run. It is a phenomenal way to refresh and rejuvenate yourself. And a wonderful way to show yourself the self-love your deserve!
I’ll close with a short sweet video of Oprah Winfrey as she talks about self-love and taking care of yourself.
I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself and practice self-love. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it. And please let me know if you want more information about our retreat to Bali in July!
“The ultimate end of all revolutionary social change is to establish the sanctity of human life, the dignity of man, the right of every human being to liberty and well-being.”
– Emma Goldman
What do you want? No honestly, what do you really truly want in your one wild and precious life? to mis-quote Mary Oliver. Most studies show that happiness and well-being are at the top of this list. But that is often immediately followed by but I don’t know what to do to get there. The good news is that there is a path to well-being, and you can start travelling this path today.
Well-being is actually a skill that can be learned and practiced and improved. Well-being can be achieved by focusing on four main keys. One of my heroes that I’ve written about is Dr. Richard Davidson. Dr. Davidson is the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and he has studied and discovered the four science-based keys to well-being.
Davidson explains that well-being is a skill and it boils down to four main attributes:
Resilience, Outlook, Attention and Generosity.
From his research, he and his colleagues have learned that:
Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity—so we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen. Practicing these four skills can provide the substrate for enduring change, which can help to promote higher levels of well-being in our lives.
Yes it’s true ‘Shit Happens.’ It happens to all of us and we can’t always stop it or avoid it, but we can change the way we react to it. Davidson explains that:
Resilience is the rapidity with which we recover from adversity; some people recover slowly and other people recover more quickly. We know that individuals who show a more rapid recovery in certain key neural circuits have higher levels of well-being. They are protected in many ways from the adverse consequences of life’s slings and arrows.
Recent research that Davidson conducted at UW Madison asked whether resilience could be improved and if so, how. The good news is that answer is yes; resilience can be improved by regular practice of mindfulness meditation. … The bad news is that it takes thousands of hours of practice before you see real change. But hey, it can be done.
The second key to well-being is one’s outlook on life. Davidson explains:
Outlook refers to the ability to see the positive in others, the ability to savor positive experiences, the ability to see another human being as a human being who has innate basic goodness.
The good news regarding outlook is that unlike resilience, research indicates that simple practices of lovingkindness and / or compassion meditation may alter this circuitry quite quickly.
There was a study done in 2013 where individuals who had never meditated before were randomly assigned to one of two groups.
One group received a secular form of compassion training and the other received cognitive reappraisal training, an emotion-regulation strategy that comes from cognitive therapy. We scanned people’s brains before and after two weeks of training, and we found that in the compassion group, brain circuits that are important for this positive outlook were strengthened. After just seven hours—30 minutes of practice a day for two weeks—we not only saw changes in the brain, but these changes also predicted kind and helpful behavior.
The third key to well-being is paying attention. Research has shown that most people do not pay close attention to what they’re doing about forty-seven percent of the time. The quality of attention that you pay to what you are doing is vital.
William James in The Principals of Psychology explains that:
The ability to voluntarily bring back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgment, character, and will. An education that sharpens attention would be education par excellence.
Davidson explains that educating attention can be done through a contemplative practice.
It is well known now that when individuals engage in generous and altruistic behavior, they actually activate circuits in the brain that are key to fostering well-being. Davidson believes that:
Human beings come into the world with innate, basic goodness. When we engage in practices that are designed to cultivate kindness and compassion, we’re not actually creating something de novo—we’re not actually creating something that didn’t already exist. What we’re doing is recognizing, strengthening, and nurturing a quality that was there from the outset.
In addition to the four keys that Davidson outlines, science has also shown that gratitude hugely increases our feelings of well-being. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions. With gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators. You can become more responsible for creating more well-being in your life by the simple act of being grateful for what you are experiencing in this present moment.
By practicing gratitude and focusing on these four keys, Davidson assures us that:
Our brains are constantly being shaped wittingly or unwittingly—most of the time unwittingly. Through the intentional shaping of our minds, we can shape our brains in ways that would enable these four fundamental constituents of well-being to be strengthened. In that way, we can take responsibility for our own minds.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, no one explains it better than Dr. Richie Davidson himself!
I’d love to know if you have found that a meditation practice impacts your well-being.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
““Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
— George Bernard Shaw
There are still a few spaces left for the This Way Up Six Week Online Live Interactive Workshop.
The six-week series begins on Tuesday 23 October at 5pm PDT and runs for six weeks:
Tuesday 23 October – Tuesday 27 November.
Here is some info about the workshop:
The workshop is completely free. There is no set fee at all. At the end of the six weeks, if you decide you want to donate something, you are welcome, but there is no expectation.
Each workshop is live, and videoed. If you miss a day in the series, you can go to our private You Tube page and watch what you’ve missed and do the day’s visualization. There is time for questions and discussions during each workshop. The shared community of women from around the world is wonderful!
This video will answer some questions for you, and if you have any other question, you can contact me at
I hope to see you there!
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr
It’s true that we are hard-wired toward negativity, that we have a ‘built-in negativity bias.’ Rick Hanson explains that as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. That’s because — in the tough environments in which our ancestors lived — if they missed out on a carrot, they usually had a shot at another one later on. But if they failed to avoid a stick — a predator, a natural hazard, or aggression from others of their species — then there may be no more chances to pass on their genes.
However, studies have also shown that we are hard-wired for empathy and altruism as well. This is because cooperative behaviour worked on our behalf and helped our ancestors to survive under harsh conditions. So we reap psychological and physiological benefits when we practice altruism, when we do good things for others. In other words, doing good is good for you.
First of all, what exactly is altruism? It is defined as:
A voluntary, sometimes costly behaviour motivated by the desire to help another individual; a selfless act intended to benefit only the other.
So why would we do something that is of no benefit to ourselves?
Karen Salmansohn explains it like this:
Altruism raises your mood because it raises your self-esteem, which increases happiness. Plus, giving to others gets you outside of yourself and distracts you from your problems.
Here are a few good reasons to practice altruism:
Giving to and helping other people releases endorphins, which then activate parts of our brain that are associated with trust, pleasure and social connection. This chemical reaction in the brain increases the chance that we will be altruistic and do good deeds in the future, thus creating a positive feedback loop of generosity and happiness.
Being a part of a positive charitable social network leads to feelings of belonging and lessens isolation.
Helping others, especially those who are less fortunate, can provide a sense of perspective, enabling us to stop focusing on what we may feel is missing in our own life.
Evidence suggests that helping others can boost our health. Compassion has been shown to help stabilise the immune system against immunosuppressing effects of stress. Altruistic acts may also stimulate the brain to release endorphins, which are powerful natural painkillers. One study found that participating in charitable activities can be better for our health than lowering cholesterol or stopping smoking
People who are altruistic tend to see life as more meaningful. Altruism is associated with better marital relationships, increased physical health, and enhanced self-esteem. Acts of altruism decrease feelings of hopelessness and decrease depression. It may also neutralise negative emotions that affect immune, endocrine and cardiovascular function.
Helping others has actually been shown to increase our life span. Studies on older people show that those who give support to others live longer than those who don’t.
Quite simply, altruism feels good and is good for you. When you help others, it promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. So although it is true that we are hard-wired to notice the negative, we are also hard-wired toward compassion and altruism. So the next time you have a choice between acting from fear or acting from caring and compassion, choose the latter, it’s better for you in every way.
I’ll close with a wonderful TED Talk by Abigail Marsh entitled: Why Some People Are More Altruistic Than Others.
I’d love to hear about how you practice Altruism.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
– Jack Kornfield.”
There is a trance that is overtaking many of us these days. It seems to be present in most women I talk to. It is the Trance of Unworthiness. We seem to be champions at berating ourselves for our perceived failures – for not being good enough at our jobs or at parenting, for not exercising enough or for eating too much. We have convinced ourselves that we are unworthy of the kindness that we show most other people. And that unkindness and self-criticism is making us sick!
Research shows that accepting our imperfections and being kinder to ourselves can lessen feelings of depression and anxiety, and can also lessen feelings of shame and fear of failure.
People who have greater self-compassion also tend to be happier and more optimistic.
Quieting the nagging self-critic and practicing self-compassion can lead to a healthier immune system and a much better sense of well-being.
Psychologist Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle and supportive. “Rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, the self is offered warmth and unconditional acceptance.”
But after years of relentless negative self-talk, how can we break out of this trance of unworthiness? How can we cultivate more self-compassion?
It needs to be intentional – set the intention daily to be kinder to yourself.
Here are some guidelines:
1. Practice Imperfection:
Self-compassion means that we give ourselves the space to be human. And that means we can be flawed sometimes, but we don’t have to define ourselves as being ‘completely flawed and a hopeless case.’ We get to practice imperfection sometimes and not lose sight of our own potential.
2. Practice Mindfulness:
Jon Kabat-Zinn explains that mindfulness has been found to have a positive impact on self-compassion because it has the tendency to lessen self-judgement. When we are stuck in a negative spiral of self-criticism, it’s quite often because we are engaged in ‘negative story-lines’ —stories that we repeat in our heads, criticizing self about past mistakes and failures. This playground of our internal critic, plays on repeat and creates a negative spiral that we can easily get stuck in. Mindfulness, or the state of non-judgmental awareness, can be the antidote.
3. Practice Forgiveness
Refer back to number one, being human means that you sometimes make mistakes. Shit happens. We don’t have to punish ourselves for making mistakes. We get to accept that we’re not perfect and move on. Remember what Anne Lamott says:
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
That goes for self-forgiveness as well.
4. Practice Gratitude
By focussing on gratitude, we over-ride our inner critic and can hear a kinder voice in our head. We can then shift the lazar-focus away from all of our perceived shortcomings and instead appreciate what we can contribute to the world. Robert Emmons reminds us that gratitude is powerful and by focusing on gratitude instead of criticism, we can learn to be more self-compassionate.
Remember self-compassion has to be learned for most of us. I have to remember to practice it daily. It has to be intentional and mindful. But it can be done, and I’ve decided that I’m worth it. And I think you are too.
I’d like to close with a beautiful meditation called ‘Awakening Self-Compassion’ by Tara Brach.
She also has a two part meditation on her own site called “The Healing Power of Self-Compassion” which is also wonderful when you have the time.
I’d love to hear about how you manage to overcome the Trance of Unworthiness.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“When we align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest part of ourselves, we are filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning. Life is rich and full. We have no thoughts of bitterness. We have no memory of fear. We are joyously and intimately engaged with our world. This is the experience of authentic power … when the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment.”
– Gary Zukav
What I’ve come to realize at sixty years old is that finding my life purpose is a life-long journey. I can see that I need to pause and re-evaluate often, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and that’s OK. But as I review Zukav’s quote as encouragement, I am reminded:
As I align my thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest part of myself, then I am filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning; then my life feels rich and full; then I am joyously and intimately engaged with my world. Here I find the experience of authentic power … when my personality comes fully to serve the energy of my own soul, then I find authentic empowerment.
I’ll close this post with a wonderful interview with Gary Zukav entitled
I’d love to hear about your search for purpose and finding authentic power.And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
– Albert Einstein
The world is changing so fast, the way we do things has changed so much in my lifetime, it’s hard to remember how we used to survive. I was talking to a friend who is in her 20s recently, and she asked me how we survived when we were travelling around the world in the 80s, without cell phones or internet. And I tried to remember . . . how did we survive? We had a Lonely Planet book and we talked to other travellers and we just winged it a lot! Somehow we survived without ever making a reservation or really having much of a plan at all. We just did it.
There is no argument that things are changing quickly, and it seems that many of us, especially those of us born well before cell phones and internet, are running just trying to keep up. But what I’ve noticed a lot lately is that some of us are adapting and learning more quickly than others. So I’ve been fascinated to read about some of the research about how these changes create new demands on how we must think in order to thrive in this era.
There is a fascinating article in Psychology Today, ‘Your Elastic Mind’, by Leonard Mlodinow, Ph.D., a theoretical physicist and the author of Elastic. In this article Mlodinow explains that there are certain talents, or qualities of thought that are now essential in these rapidly changing times. He gives us some examples:
“The capacity to let go of comfortable ideas and become accustomed to ambiguity and contradiction, the capability to rise above conventional mind-sets and reframe the questions we ask, the ability to abandon our ingrained assumptions and open ourselves to new paradigms, the propensity to rely on imagination as much as on logic and to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, and the willingness to experiment and be tolerant of failure. That’s a diverse bouquet of talents, but as psychologists and neuroscientists have elucidated the brain processes behind them, those talents have been revealed as different aspects of a coherent cognitive style. I call it elastic thinking.
Elastic thinking endows us with the ability to solve novel problems and overcome the neural and psychological barriers that can impede us from looking beyond the existing order. It’s important to understand how our brains produce elastic thinking, and how we can nurture it. In a large body of research one quality stands out above all the others—unlike analytical reasoning, elastic thinking arises from what scientists call “bottom-up” processes.”
In an interview in Scientific America, Mlodinow explains that:
“In my field, science, researchers are overwhelmed by something more constructive, the more than three million new journal articles each year. In personal technology, we must all learn to navigate a landscape in which the number of websites has been doubling every two to three years, and the way we use and access them is subject to frequent “disruptive change.” More importantly, social attitudes are changing just as fast—compare the pace of the civil rights movement to the speed at which the campaign for gay rights swept the developed world. Or look at the overnight rise of the “me too” movement.
The failure of businesses to adapt has led to the quick demise of countless companies, and major power shifts in industries from taxis to hospitality. But we must adapt to thrive in our personal lives, too. We have to be willing to rise above conventional mindsets, to reframe the questions we ask, to be open to new paradigms. We have to rely as much on our imagination as on logic, and have the ability to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be tolerant of failure. I call that manner of thought elastic thinking, in contrast to rational or logical thought.”
The way that this has shown up in my life recently has been the challenges that I have faced as I’ve embarked on a new adventure in my career, pushing me way outside my comfort zone. I’ve had to learn how to use new platforms for my New Online Workshop; had to learn new tools on You Tube and new ways to connect with people around the world. It has pushed me way beyond what I thought I could do, and my fear of failure and doing it wrong has been rampant.
I have absolutely had to practice what Mlodinow described:
‘I’ve had to ‘reframe the questions I ask; I’ve had to be open to new paradigms; have had to rely as much on my imagination as on logic, and I’ve had to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be very tolerant of failure!’
If this topic interests you, I encourage you to take the time to watch this very interesting ‘Talks at Google’ by Leonard Mlodinow – ‘Elastic Thinking in Times of Change.’
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams”
– Oprah Winfrey
- Identify Limiting Beliefs and Move Beyond Them
- Overcome Obstacles that Prevent You from Moving Forward
- Move Toward Achieving Your Dreams and Living Your Best Life!
One of the first questions that people have is – What’s the cost? The answer is simple – Whatever you want to pay. That’s right. I want this workshop to be completely accessible to everyone that is interested, and I absolutely do not want money to be an obstacle.
This Workshop begins Tuesday May 29th at 6pm PDT
Sign up today to start your journey!
Want more info?
Still have questions?
Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!
“Within all of us is a divine capacity to manifest and attract all that we need and desire.”
– Wayne Dyer
I receive lots of inquiries from people asking how I got my book published.
I usually respond glibly – Tenacity! And that was certainly one aspect of the process.
But the truth is that I practiced what I actually preached in my book and focused a lot of energy and belief on The Energy of getting my book out there. In my opinion, this is how one sets out to manifest what they are focusing on.
I believe, after reading books by Deepak Chopra and a myriad of other authors, that everything is energy. And that belief shapes everything else. And on top of that, each energy has a specific vibration as Esther Hicks/Abraham explains. And we must be on the ‘same frequency’ to use a common metaphor, to be in alignment. Once this alignment is met, things start to happen. If the vibration is high, as in joy and gratitude, you start experiencing more joy and gratitude, and more things that bring you joy and gratitude start to come your way.
I focused on the joy of writing my book as often as possible, and the gratitude that publishers were looking at it. I didn’t make stuff up, I just found joy and gratitude in what was already happening.
As a woman I know, Jaqui Sive, describes:
“If you’re thinking about being in debt, you’ll only attract more debt, because the feeling of being in debt can only attract being in debt, because that is the frequency you’re on.”
The very best way to become an energetic match for something, is to think, feel, and behave as if you’ve already received it. In my book I describe it as Acting as if – that’s where we start. Living in joy and gratitude. By living in that joy and gratitude, you unlock the emotion of having it, and that allows the frequency of that energetic match.
The emotion of it is so important. From what I’ve read and understand, manifesting anything is very much about the emotion behind it. That’s why in my book I talk about the Power of Why. It evokes the emotion around the Heart Centered Goal Setting. Feeling it is crucial. My experience is that it is next to impossible to manifest your dream if your emotions are conflicting with that goal.
For example, if you are focusing on finding true love, but your emotions and limiting beliefs are telling your that you are not good enough, then that blocks the energy.
You may write your goal: “I now have a wonderful relationship that brings me true joy.”
But if your emotions and limiting beliefs are saying: “But I’m too fat for love.” Or “But I’m too old to ever find true love, my boat has sailed.” (both of which I have heard from readers) – then you are sabotaging your own life! These limiting beliefs will de-rail your goal almost immediately. If you believe you do not deserve something, then that will keep on playing out in your life. Your sub-conscious mind will believe your old limiting belief. That is why there is an entire week in the workbook in This Way Up to help you get clear on your limiting beliefs. You need to be clear on how your own old thoughts are limiting your own progress.
So after you’ve uncovered those limiting beliefs and have come to believe that you are worthy of whatever it is that you are focusing on, then it is time to use the emotion within you to help generate the creative energy.
For me, the secret lies in Visualization. I talk at length about visualizaiton in my book. You can find all of my visualizations on my You Tube Channel. When you are doing a visualization, it is vital that you focus your positive energy on that vision. Feel like it is actually happening, the more details the better. Feel how good it feels to be in a healthy, positive relationship; or how wonderful it feels to have your book published and have people reading your work. Another option I outline in my book is writing about it. Write about your Ideal Life Scenario. Get as specific as possible.
The creative process you use in not important, it’s just important that it brings you joy! Evoke the joy and the gratitude of achieving that which you are focusing on. By being in the joy of having that (whatever it is), we live that joy and we begin to manifest it. It is only by being in that place that it begins to come to us. It’s an absolute conundrum!
There is another important piece here, as Mike Dooley, from The Universe Talks, explains:
“Expecting “end results” – such as wealth and abundance, health and harmony, friends and laughter – in broad brushstrokes, is part of the secret formula for manifesting the life of your dreams.”
But remember, don’t get stuck in the minutiae, or the ‘cursed hows’ as he describes it:
“Expecting your path to follow a certain route – such as writing a bestseller to accumulate wealth, having a particular someone fall in love with you, or insisting upon this idea, that diet, or the other invention to be your deliverance – is just plain messing with the cursed hows and severely limits options.”
Dooley asks us to:
“Release any expectations you may have of how you think your dreams will come true but by all means, with every fiber of your being, expect that they will, as you busy yourself enjoying who and where you already are.”
So act as if you already have your dream. Look for the good in things you experience, try to live in joy as much as possible. Start every day with gratitude, before you even get out of bed focus on what you are grateful for, choose three things every morning. Write them down in a journal if you have the time and the space, but if that feels too hard, then just say it in your mind, feel the gratitude of having a warm bed, of knowing you can take a hot shower, of having food in your fridge. Focus your gratitude on what you already have in your life; this will impact your entire day.
And as you think about that big goal, act as if it is already yours.
Be in your life as if that goal is already there. Feel the joy of it.
After all, ultimately aren’t we all searching for more joy?
I’ll close with a video of Oprah interviewing Esther Hicks about manifesting, among other things.