Friday, September 26, 2014

Fake it 'til you become it

The Dynamic Divorcee onstage in a flamenco show power pose

“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes." -- Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy

After 25 years as a flamenco dancer, and 12 years of teaching more than 1000 women to express their power through flamenco dance, it turns out I'd been adept at something called "power posing" without ever knowing it.

I found this out when one of my students sent me a link to what is now the second-most-viewed TED Talk of all time, entitled, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are."

And I started to think about taking what I had learned about transforming women through flamenco dance and transferring that experience and deep sense of knowing to my work with divorcing and divorced women.

I had already been working with body-centered concepts as I coached my divorce recovery clients.  You may remember this post -- my blog's all-time most popular one -- entitled, "Let your body send the message, 'I'm ready to receive!'"

All you need is 2 minutes
But "power poses" as described in Amy Cuddy's TED Talk were so direct, so simple, and results so immediate, that I couldn't wait to try them with my clients.  (And, I had up my sleeve a few new, more women-centered wrinkles on the poses Cuddy's research used.)

If you haven't see the TED Talk in question, here's some background from an article in the April 2, 2014 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly:
"When Amy Cuddy *05 walked into her classroom at Harvard Business School a few years ago to teach about power and influence, she found herself watching the body language of her students. Some of them — mostly men — were going straight to the middle of the room before class, leaning back, and generally occupying a lot of space. Others, mainly women, seemed to make themselves small — they hunched over, wrapped their arms around their bodies, and crossed their legs. These students also tended to participate less in class discussions and seemed less confident. When raising their hands, men were more likely to thrust them high in the air, while women seemed more tentative.

"Studying the postures of the women, Cuddy, who is a social psychologist, wondered: 'If I could change the way they sat, would that make them feel more powerful?' Cuddy took her hunch to the lab. With Dana Carney, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and postdoctoral associate Andy Yap, she came up with a study to examine how your body language affects not only how others perceive you, but how you perceive yourself. Their hypothesis was that pretending to be powerful, by striking a power pose, would make people feel more powerful — and, as a result, make them act more powerful."
Faking it actually allows you to become it
Cuddy says that faking the body language of a powerful person goes far beyond the old adage "fake it 'til you make it."  Faking it actually allows you to become it, to instantly embody the qualities that you're modeling.

Try it (this is so simple that there's no excuse not to):
1.  Assume a power pose (e.g., the Wonder Woman pose, with legs spread hip-width apart and hands on hips, or the Pride Pose with legs hip-width apart and arms stretched overhead in a V)
2.  Hold it for 2 minutes
3.  Go forth and conquer

Here's my twist on it:  Invisible to Irresistible
The body posture that Cuddy calls the Pride Pose was not included in her research, but I find it the most powerful one of all, and one that elicits immediate change.  None of this is new.  Kundalini yoga practitioners have developed many kriyas (techniques connecting mind, body, and spirit) based on placing the body in various positions, accompanied by breathing techniques that together jump-start remarkable changes in mood, emotions, and energy levels.

Want to explore these power poses, drawn from a variety of traditions, as well as other simple techniques that can give you instant and incredible personal magnetism?  Learn more about my Invisible to Irresistible 2-hour program.  You'll come away with a super-easy toolkit that changes everything.

And, here's Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk on how our body language affects how we think and feel about ourselves, and what we can do about it:

And here's the full Princeton Alumni Weekly article about Amy Cuddy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The space between what we desire and what we don't have

Today's guest blog post is from my friend Dorine Nafziger, and it's about acknowledging life traumas on the way to experiencing breakthroughs to your deepest desires.  Dorine also talks about how practices as simple as use of essential oils can be such lifesavers on the journey.

Dorine Nafziger
Have you ever wanted something SO badly but felt like you’d never get it?  Maybe you were even afraid to admit that you even wanted it?  

After 11 years of marriage, I find myself still shaking my head in wonder. 

Fourteen years ago, I was absolutely, positively certain I’d never find love.  No husband.  No kids.  Not for me, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I wasn’t lovable.  

What I noticed is that when I don’t immediately get what I want, it can be tempting to blame myself.  I wonder if maybe I’m not good enough, smart enough -- whatever enough.

It can be really hard to sit in the place of unknowing, struggling to believe in the possibility of receiving what we desire deep down.   It’s much easier to lose faith and only feel the tension. 

The space between what we desire and what we don’t have is probably one of the most dreaded and avoided spaces in the world.  But what if you could appreciate the tension of living in between wanting what you want and not having it? 

Appreciate the tension – whaaaaaa?!

Yes. Instead of trying to control the situation or berating ourselves for not being perfect already, we can appreciate the process.

For instance, when I met my husband, I didn’t like him.  He irritated me.  We were in the same circle of friends though, so we saw each other often.  I remember thinking more than once, “Who does that guy think he is?” and it came out as anger.  Not surprisingly, he thought on more than one occasion, “What’s up with that girl?”  We repelled each other. 

But without the tension pulling between two things, nothing new can be born.  (Ever given birth?)

Tension is a powerful process that pushes and shapes our desires into being. 
When you feel that tension, you can celebrate because it means things are really cooking!!  What you want is on its way!  Just like in cooking, some things need to simmer all day before yielding succulent flavors (stew), while others require no cooking (fresh berries off the vine) to give us an instant rush of taste.

So, imagine my surprise when a year after I had first met him, this guy who irritated me so much confronted my anger. 

He just asked, “Why? Why are you so angry?”  And for whatever reason (divine timing!) all my pretenses and angry defenses fell away.   My whole body remembered why I was so angry.  The reason I thought I was so unlovable.  I had blocked out the memory of my childhood sexual abuse.

While it was scary to remember something so excruciating, so devastating, that I had worked so hard all my life to forget, it also put all the puzzle pieces of my life in place.  Everything suddenly made sense.  I truly believe that my biggest grief -- this trauma, opened the way to my greatest joy.   

Through my tears, there before me I saw my greatest ally.  We walked outside and I saw color for the first time. We walked slowly, like caterpillars, taking it all in.

Shortly after, to support myself in between therapy sessions, I discovered doTERRA therapeutic grade essential oils.  These pure plant medicines supported me in the places where I got triggered and spun out, when everything felt scary and I wanted to hide. 

I developed a practice of putting a grounding essential oil blend called Balance on my feet in the morning.  Next, I’d think of my intention for healing and place a drop of joyful essential oil blend called Elevation on my heart. 

This simple daily practice of consciously calling in and receiving support with the intention for joy and healing changed me.  Now, 11 happily wedded years later with two beautiful sons, I know for certain that just beyond your greatest grief, is your greatest joy. 

I am forever grateful to both my husband and doTERRA essential oils for being some of my greatest allies of this journey of healing.

Dorine Nafziger has offered my readers a free 30-minute consultation on how essential oils can support your physical and emotional well-being as you move through your divorce recovery experience.  See her fun Dorine's Cooking with Essential Oils page on facebook, or contact her directly at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Attraction Superpower #1: SMILE (No, really!)

Here's what personal magnetism is all about
One thing that's a common denominator among almost all of my Dynamic Divorcee coaching clients is a history of chronic LACK.

My women have lacked the ability to attract into their lives the kind of respect, attention, and adoration that they've craved.  There's often lifelong financial lack as well. Lack of respect and lack of love and attention as far back as childhood.

Very often, my women find it difficult to even conceive of being worthy of being treated  well.  There's a history of living with comments like, "Who do you think you are, a princess?" when asking for just the basics of respect from the men in their lives.

For the majority of my clients, being cherished by a man was nothing more than a dream -- a dream that was only fulfilled for other women, lucky women, smarter women, more beautiful women.  Fill in the blank.

What does this have to do with smiling?  More than you might think.

I have my clients start acting as if they already are the kind of woman who deserves the best treatment from everyone.  The nice thing about divorce is that you've just eliminated the person who, in many cases, has treated you the worst and has been in your life every day, making you feel less and less worthy.

Let's change that!  Let's use a simple smile to feel all-powerful and ready to change the world to move the way you want it to.

Your smile says "yes" to everything you want
Today's experiment is simple.  Invite goodness into your life by welcoming it with a warm and beautiful smile.

Try this today, ladies:  Everywhere you go, look straight ahead (not down at the ground), make eye contact, and smile.  Practice holding eye contact for a full second (count "one-one-thousand").  If you're an introvert, or even a not very me-me-me-centered extravert, this may feel strange.  And that's the reason to practice it!

You'll look approachable, positive, attractive (attract+ive), and you'll feel that way, too.  Keep tabs on all the good things that you attract as you use your new superpower.

You'll connect with others in all kinds of fun ways.  People will smile back, and you'll feel even happier.  You'll experience little kindnesses throughout the day. You'll find yourself starting up more conversations, with new exchanges, new experiences, and new opportunities as a result.  (See the illustration at the top of this post!)

And, take 8 minutes to watch this!

Want to know more about all the great things you receive for free when you smile?  You know I love TED talks, and here's one of the top ten most popular of all time, by entrepreneur Ron Gutman on the hidden power of smiling.

As always, I would love to hear your results!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Start telling yourself a better story

Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway in Don Juan De Marco
Maybe you read my recent post on never facing the facts, no matter what.  And, maybe you thought:  Come on, it can be really dangerous not to face reality.

My first question today is:  What is reality?

Do you keep telling yourself stories based on the conventional wisdom?  That is, what everyone else keeps saying and believing?  And, if so, what makes that real?

Notice that the conventional wisdom about any given situation is usually pretty dour.  It's usually an excuse to pack it in, give up, and settle for something "more realistic."

Does this "wisdom" make you stronger and happier?  More passionate to reclaim and live the rest of your life exactly the way you want to? Or, is it the reverse? Does "facing the truth" about the options for your post-40 single life make you want to give up and crawl under a rock -- just the way it has done for generations of women before us?

And today's second question:  What harm will come of your believing that you're the most beautiful woman on Earth, and are here to create beauty while giving everyone you meet the great pleasure of knowing you?

Seeing beyond what is visible to the eye
"When I say that all my women are dazzling beauties, they object.  But I see these women for how they truly are:  glorious, radiant, spectacular, and perfect because I am not limited by my eyesight.

 "I search out the beauty that lies within them until it overwhelms everything else, and then they cannot resist their desire to release that beauty and envelop me in it." -- Johnny Depp in Don Juan De Marco

Question number three is:  Why not do this for ourselves?  Because what you believe about yourself will transform you.

If you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend (for more reasons than I have time to write about here) the 1994 film Don Juan De Marco.  It explores how a psychiatrist a day a way from retirement has his life transformed when he treats a delusional patient whose delusions are far more beautiful and poetic than reality.

It's also about learning to pay attention, learning to see and appreciate what's in front of you -- and, after you watch this film, you may find yourself changing your definition of reality.

The psychiatrist, played by Marlon Brando, rediscovers himself as a lover and rediscovers the beauty of his wife of 35 years, played by Faye Dunaway.

Near the end of the film, he says to his wife, "I need to find out who you are.  I need to know all about you.  I want to know what your hopes and dreams are that got lost along the way when I was thinking about myself."

His wife responds, "I thought you'd never ask."

But, we don't have to wait for a husband's devotion before we can feel and know our own beauty.

Do you dare to live for a week as if you are the most beautiful woman on Earth?
Every day, for a week, live each moment in the knowledge that you are the most fascinating creature in existence.  That, by your very being, you can spread joy, love, and that special essence of you wherever you deign to look.

Does this exercise bring up some very difficult feelings for you?  Does just the idea of imagining yourself this way make you so uncomfortable that you refuse to even try it?  I'd love to help with this.

For those who are willing to take a chance on this exercise, it will feel wonderful, but it also may take quite a bit of focus to stay in it.

As always, please comment with your revelations and experiences.

Friday, September 5, 2014

There's still time to make big shifts in 2014. Here's how:

It's September, a time when many people give up on getting accomplished those life changes we hoped to set in motion at the beginning of the year. 

Pretty soon, it's the big wind-down (or mad dash, depending on how you see it) through the holiday season, and then the let-down of another year behind us. 

And, hmmm, are you stuck in the same place you were last year?  Or -- gasp -- has it gotten even worse?

Get some key life goals off your to-do list before harvest season! 
It's much much easier than you may think.  Baby steps.  Here's my suggestion for accomplishing something personally meaningful with what's left of the year:  Just focus on setting your infrastructure in place for 2015.

Let me give you a quick idea of how I did this (and am still putting on the final touches) in 2014.

It all started with a new virtual learning program that I rolled out at the end of 2013.  I'll be offering it again, soon, but here's the incredible offer that I made for the program last year in the last two days before Christmas.

The program is called 5 Surprising Cures for the Holiday Blues, and one of the cures involves using the holiday season to create a blueprint for your new life as you want to live it in the new year.

I had developed my program based on my own experiences in recovering from a terrible betrayal and healing from the total destruction of my life as I had known it.  Although my life was back on track, and I was happy again, I ended up loving my new blues-busting program so much that, just for fun, I decided to work my own program, step by step, during the holiday season.

The results have been amazing.
I created a theme for my year:  Most gain for least pain.  With that theme in mind, I kept testing ways to improve my life in five key areas important to me:  money, diet, exercise, leisure, and love.  Various practices and techniques received test periods of at least 28 days, and I assessed the results after each experiment.

The assessment for every practice or technique I tried?  Simple:
1.  How much work did it take?
2.  What results did I get?

So far:  Best year ever.  Here are a few of the things I'll have to look back on with pride from 2014:
  • Not only did I lose 15 pounds, but I documented exactly what worked for me best.  And the modified form of this diet -- my maintenance diet -- is completely livable and enjoyable for the long term.
  • My "new normal" diet feels great and I have lots of energy.
  • I've come up with the bedtime and sleep schedule that's the best compromise between my natural night-owl proclivities and my optimum productivity.
  • I've tested numerous techniques to look and feel ten years younger -- and, once again, I've documented what works.  I look terrific, which helps me feel incredible, too.
  • I'm holding myself accountable for getting at least two hours of leisure per day (that means leisure that is restorative and fun for me, not just watching what someone else wants to watch on tv).
  • I'm keeping my work week pretty close to 40 hours (rather than 60-80 hours per week) for the first time in years.
  • In the friendship and love arena, I feel more supported than ever, and although I'm still holding out for someone really special (settling just isn't fun), I have no lack of men in my life.
  • And the year's not over yet!
Spend the rest of 2014 finding out what works for you.
The key to all of this is that my life hacks are unique to me.  It's all about setting up an experiment in any given area of your life, trying a new technique, and assessing how it worked (or didn't).  I've been inspired by diets, exercise programs, and a host of techniques that others have developed, but the personal tweaking is the big secret.

You still have four months left in 2014!  Start experimenting so you'll have a great plan for how to achieve the goals most dear to you in 2015.
  1. Define four or five broad areas in which you'd like to see improvement or change  (eliciting help from your kids around the house, strengthening key friendships, improving the quality of your leisure time, finding ways to indulge yourself and feel more beautiful) -- just the process of coming up with your list can be very revealing.
  2. Look at each area, and see if you can spend 10 minutes a day exploring a way to improve that part of your life.  Start with one area and one experiment.  What can you do that will be easy, but has the potential to give you the biggest reward.
  3. Conduct your experiment for 7 days, 2 weeks, 28 days . . . and reassess.
  4. Write down your findings.  This is super-important.  You want to be able to remember, in January, what worked, and what didn't, as you put together your game plan for 2015.

And, if you'd like a little help, I'm always here.