One thought I worked on for all of 2018.

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I’ve been a Life Coach for going on 3 years. It’s hard to believe! Even life coaches have fucked up thoughts that don’t serve them and even life coaches have their own coaches and have to deal with their own limiting beliefs and thoughts. I worked on one fundamental thought this year, day after day after day. Moment by moment.

I like myself.

I used to believe that I was unlovable. This one was a hard one to shake. I’d actually been practicing getting rid of that thought for a few years. I still can feel it creeping up on me, finding evidence in the things people say about me online, to my face, in facebook conversations that I stumble upon, when I think about the social constructs that make women both desirable and undesired, even when I think about the circumstances of my own family of origin. Because it’s a thought that was so central to my identity, I could see the world as only supporting that thought or denying that thought. It was super black and white. But that’s not the truth.

Truth is something that EVERYONE believes– more accurately something that would stand up in a court of law as undeniable fact. Even thoughts that nearly everyone in your community, family or friend group believe aren’t truth.

But that was what was happening to me. I was swimming in everyone’s judgmental thoughts about me. And trust me, polarizing women leaders face much of the same thoughts about them– that we don’t know what we’re doing, that we’re untrustworthy, that we’re getting help from somewhere else, that we don’t deserve the success we have.

I was facing those thoughts from so many corners that it began to trick me into believing that it was true. And really, what it underlined for me was the thought that I was unlovable. Unlikable. It’s a stereotype women leaders face, and I was falling right into its trap.

But this is the thing- you have to believe the thoughts you want to believe about yourself EVEN if everything and everyone around you is pointing to a thought that counters it.

That’s how you take control of your life, of your thoughts. When you are presented with the opportunity to challenge thoughts about yourself, that’s how they can become stronger. So, when someone tries to tell me that I’m not a good boss or that I’m making the wrong choice, my default used to be feeling shame and embarrassment and fear and then unloved / unsupported.

But now, I can see their thoughts as totally separate from myself. At least in this way. Many people can say the same thing about me and what was once evidence about how I was not liked turned into a study in what it means to be a strong woman leader. We bring about much of the same thoughts in others about us. And it was just coincidence (in my case) that I already thought those unhelpful thoughts about myself to begin with. I was deep in imposter syndrome and looking for outside validation to make it untrue.

But that’s not how you get there.

How you get there is to believe you’re worthy / lovable / smart / talented DESPITE what others think.

And if you can do that again and again and again (which means doing things that prompts other to have these thoughts about you) then you can work to strengthen the thoughts you WANT to believe about yourself.

So much of my life has changed because I decided I was lovable. Not because I found proof in others. Now, I see evidence for it it everywhere I go and when others try to convince me that it’s not true, it’s so much easier to just shrug it off as someone’s opinion, and usually still love them in the meantime.