health

5 Easy Ways to Reconnect With Your Voice

Build your dream house.

Build your dream house.

Reposted from previous blog. Original post from May 24, 2016

Recently, I had a moment in which I realized that I had been denying my inner voice. It came suddenly and fiercely. Long story short, I had been dating someone that I was passionately attracted to, and yet knew there was something off. On a daily basis I had been shoving down that voice that said, “This isn’t right”. I wanted so desperately for things to be perfect between us. Reality was far from that—and no matter who told me what, until I was ready to see it, it didn’t matter. He ended our relationship in an incredibly painful way, and even in that moment of visceral ache, I was released. Released from this incredibly denial and dishonesty that I had been prioritizing for 18 months. I was able to start to step into this place of authenticity and truth. I want nothing more than to take this lesson and spread it like gospel. Please know that I understand the pain associated with stepping into your truth, and I also know the light. 

I actually had a totally different introduction to this post, and it seemed less than authentic to begin from a place of authority. I am human just like you; I cry, I bleed, I love and I learn. I wanted to share this with you to start from a universal truth, that we are all in process. I can speak from a place of expertise, yet also from a place of student (and life just handed me a elephant sized lesson…thanks life :)). 

The way I integrate this lesson with my clients is that I askthem to honor how “not knowing” or ignoring their voice has served her up until now. I come from the belief that all our actions and belief start from a positive intention, and we must recognize what that is! Often, coping skills or defense mechanism do serve us, and then, at some point can become destructive or unhelpful. 

An example of this is passive aggressive communication. Passive aggressive means that you say something in order to avoid a conflict, however you are desperately wanting the other person to understand your frustration, anger or fear. Where I come from (Minnesota), this is the “normal” way to communicate, and anything outside this realm is considered rude, abrasive and unacceptable. The positive intention is to keep the peace, to manage and have happy relationships. Unfortunately, the result is the exact opposite! I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in therapy wanting to improve relationships, set boundaries and feel more congruent with their inner and outer message because of this pervasive style of communication. 

My goal and advice in each of these moments that clients come to me is the same: use your voice. Start slowly and begin to get familiar with what is in your heart; what is it that you actually want to communicate? What are you actually needing from yourself and those around you? What is your fear in embracing your truth? Begin to ask these questions and your brain will start the retrieval process for the answers (crazy, right)?

Often, our fear in embracing our voice, saying our truth, stating our needs, is that:

  1. We could possibly upset someone else and then their view of us will change
  2. As women, we will be seen as bitchy, rude, unlikeable or abrasive,
  3. It is not okay to ask for your needs to be met; you will be labeled as selfish, which apparently is a punishable offense. 

I want you to start to challenge some of these inner beliefs; are these really serving you? How might life be better if you stated what was really on your mind? How might your relationships improve if you allowed people to know the real you? How might your mental, spiritual and physical health improve if you started to ask for what you need and then allow it to enter your life?

I can tell you from personal and professional experience that relationships can grow exponentially through conflict. And not aggressive fighting, yet dialogue and allowing someone to know you, challenge you and encourage you to see something from a different perspective. How many times in your life has someone given you feedback that has shifted your perspective and made you a more productive, loving, kind person? Do you remember the gratitude and excitement you felt with this new revelation? Connect with this and allow yourself to engage more frequently with real discussions with the people you care about. 

Below are 5 easy, fun and achievable ways to start to use your voice, because your words, thoughts, feelings and desires are so important! Don’t let one more day pass where your voice is unheard!

  1. If you are angry, upset or frustrated with someone, speak out loud the words you would say to them. I often will tell clients to get it out in their car, in their bathroom in front of their mirror or when they are by themselves, where they don’t have to edit one single word. The point of this is not to actually cultivate your message, but to allow your emotions out! Let yourself say the things that you might NEVER actually say to that person. Engage with your feelings, so that you can come closer to a balanced message when you actually talk to this person.

  2. Get familiar with your emotions! Ask yourself “What am I feeling right now” and then LISTEN! Make efforts to understand your patterns of emotions and then record them in a journal or a note on your phone. Once you start to notice what feelings are coming up frequently, you can find ways to process them and approach the situation differently.

  3. Redefine the word “selfish”. I cannot tell you how much I despise this word; it is shaming and denies people (mostly women) the most imperative self care that they need. Self care is what we all need to move through this world; the things that give us energy, fill up our bucket and allow us to show up as the best versions of ourselves. I want you to pick one thing that you would have previously defined as selfish and do it anyways. This could mean, making your favorite dinner (even if you partner doesn’t like it), going to yoga in the middle of the work day, buying that purse that you’ve been eyeing, going out to brunch with your girlfriends, spending an hour a week in meditation or journaling. Replenish your spirit and you will be able to offer the world 10-fold what you think you’re capable of.

  4. Schedule a difficult conversation. We all have that one (or maybe 5) people that we’ve been putting off an uncomfortable conversation with. Stop delaying and text them immediately to meet for coffee, a drink or a Skype date. Write out what you want to say to them and always come from a place of love. Use “I” statements to diffuse any defensiveness. Be ready and able to own your own shit. Remember the goal is to use your voice; if the relationship also improves that is a beautiful bonus. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever was. It is worth it and you will remember that feeling going forward-it will ripple out and allow you to have more authentic, vulnerable and valuable relationships with people you love.

  5. Reestablish or reconnect with your identity. When was the last time that you really thought about who you are as a person? What are your values, your desires, your goals, your fears, your losses? If someone asked you, “who are you?”, what would your response be? Spend 10 minutes a day for the next week journaling about these 7 topics:

    1. Values
    2. Relationships
    3. Goals
    4. Career
    5. Fears
    6. The Biggest Dream I Could Possibly Dream Is…
    7. What I Want for My Future Is…

I cannot wait to have you get started on these amazing steps towards rediscovering your TRUE voice! Believe me when I say, I am walking this journey too and will share my trials and victories. Take the chance to be happy and connect with the truth that you, and everyone, holds within themselves. 

 

Celebrating a bitching blog post!

Celebrating a bitching blog post!

Be Well My Friends,

Nikki

Every Woman's Story: The Ubiquitous Tale of Body Hatred, Love and Triumph

Nikki_003.jpg

One of the challenges that I was put on this earth to work on is self love. I actually think this is a journey that most of us have come here to work on, and so I do not believe myself to be a unique soul in this capacity. My journey of self love also connects to self worth and my body. From the time I was a small person I can remember thinking my body wasn’t okay. I have a specific memory around 7 of me in my room, getting dressed and I looked down and pulled at the skin around my torso, and told myself, “You are too fat”. This is a voice that has followed me throughout my life; it no longer has the power it once did, but it still camps outside my front door, waiting for me to invite it in. I picture that voice looking like the mean girl in high school, only with stringier hair and more haggard now, (I mean she is camping outside my house and continuing to bully a grown woman, she can’t be doing that well). 

 

The story of the ups and downs throughout my life and the moments where I can remember other people commenting on my body (good and bad) are not special or that interesting. There are just a few that I think have followed me around like an old scrapbook. The time my slim French grandmother told me I was not thin, the time I opened a social studies book in the 5th grade and saw a stick figure with giant boobs drawn on it with my name underneath, the one time a mean boy in my 6th grade art class called me fat, the countless times my mother was on a diet and although she never commented on my body, constantly yoyo’d up and down with her own, never satisfied. These early moments shaped how I saw myself, and although, as an adult I can rationally disconnect from them, they all still hold an emotional weight in my heart.

Me (left), my cousin (right) around 1988. It was probably within the next 2 years that I started to criticize my body on a regular basis.

Me (left), my cousin (right) around 1988. It was probably within the next 2 years that I started to criticize my body on a regular basis.

 

I eventually grew into my body and started to get noticed in a totally different way around 8th grade; I was cute (not hot) and had developed early and significantly. Meaning, my breasts were unusually large and I had finally thinned out a little. Boys came a’running. I loved the attention but for all the wrong reasons. I think a lot of young woman can relate to this experience; after being told for your entire childhood/adolescence, there is something wrong with you or undesirable, and all of a sudden you are receiving the opposite message, holy shit, you have just entered the motherland of all highs.

 

Throughout high school and college I realized thin equated to better, and so I ran a pattern play that many women resort to, which is restricting food intake. I became addicted to diet pills (when the good ones were still legal to buy OTC), I lost my damn mind when ephedrine became illegal when I was 18. Whenever I hear any medication or countries that still allow ephedrine to be used, my mind goes immediately into addict brain for a millisecond before I come back to rational thought. This is something I rarely share with people—not my parents, not my friends, probably just my therapist and now here. But it was very real—I was addicted not just to OTC speed, but also to the idea of what being thin meant, the attention and power I thought it gave me and the fallacy of happiness. 

Me with some of my college roommates (who were all beautiful and naturally thin). I remember feeling myself constantly comparing my body to theirs. Even posting this pic is a little hard for me, remembering how I felt and probably what this version of me was feeling at this moment.

Me with some of my college roommates (who were all beautiful and naturally thin). I remember feeling myself constantly comparing my body to theirs. Even posting this pic is a little hard for me, remembering how I felt and probably what this version of me was feeling at this moment.

 

In college I met the man that was to be my ex-husband. He was funny, nice and safe. I felt like I didn’t have to try with him. I hid in our relationship. The dynamics between us suited both of us for awhile; my main awareness was that I got to feel more powerful and hidden at the same time. My body weight fluctuated more than it ever has in my whole life in this relationship, I gained so much weight and then would lose it. Gain and lose. Gain and lose. I was the most unhappy I have ever been with myself. This wasn’t his fault; this was my subconscious way of hiding. He ate a certain way, and I took implicit permission to do the same. I hated myself. I knew I had to make a change. Right around the time I completed my graduate program, I committed to myself the following: 1.) I needed to find a sustainable way of living and loving myself, and 2.) I needed to start now. I began to revamp my eating habits significantly; I quit drinking as much, I began to talk to myself differently. I joined the same gym as my girlfriends and started going to fun group fitness classes with them. Never in my whole life had I made such a huge shift that allowed me to regain control in such a short time period. 

 

My body began to change, slowly and then quickly. I could wear cute jeans again, I cared more about what I looked like (in a healthy, proud way). The more I exercised, the more I wanted to move. The thing with change is that it is a ripple effect. You cannot just expect to change your body and stop there; your relationships change, your attitude, emotions and beliefs change, your values and words change. Holy shit, life is actually kind of awesome. My relationship with my husband also changed; it began to deteriorate quickly as we grew further and further apart. Many might not say the reason that we inevitably broke up was because of my body revolution, and it absolutely was a player. I was confident, I reconnected with my needs and wants, I stopped hiding. We had outgrown each other. 

This was during my separation from my ex-husband (with my savior, Lutz); where I was finally rediscovering my body and how to take care of it. Funny, I've kept this shirt for over 4 years because it represented one of the first summer tops I wore that I felt confident in.

This was during my separation from my ex-husband (with my savior, Lutz); where I was finally rediscovering my body and how to take care of it. Funny, I've kept this shirt for over 4 years because it represented one of the first summer tops I wore that I felt confident in.

 

I look back on the choice to prioritize my physical health and how much that played a role on my mental wellness, and the connection is undeniable. My ability to move through difficult moments, elated wins and everything in between has been made more conscious and meaningful because I am connected to myself. I am fully connected to my body, my beautiful vessel that moves me through this life. I am more connected to my thoughts, emotions and words and how powerful they are and how much influence I truly have over them. My personal and professional growth have all been powered by the decision to invest in myself first. Those memories from when I was a little girl still tell a part of my story, and they no longer influence my beliefs about who I am and who I get to be. I am the queen of this hive and I GET to decide how I feel every single damn day. 

Earlier this year (2017) dialed in to lifting, eating a Ketogenic diet, yoga and loving myself daily through meditation, healthy relationships, fulfilling career and aspirations. This is a choice, it is a relationship with self--somedays come easily and others, not so much. Documenting it all :)

Earlier this year (2017) dialed in to lifting, eating a Ketogenic diet, yoga and loving myself daily through meditation, healthy relationships, fulfilling career and aspirations. This is a choice, it is a relationship with self--somedays come easily and others, not so much. Documenting it all :)

 

This is not a story of reaching the mountain top, putting my hands on my hips and declaring “I’m done!” There is still work, there are days that are hard for me, where I need to consciously decide to love my body, love myself, and love fiercely because if I don’t, no one else can or will. I hear the echoes of that mean girl, and that chick can be so loud sometimes. I am beyond blessed to have to tools to not react, not attach and not judge (myself or her). I simply come back to asking myself “What is right about you?” “What do you love?” “What can you do to move through this with compassion?”

 

Finding alignment <3

Finding alignment <3

I know there are more mountains ahead of me and my body: aging, pregnancy, shifts that I cannot predict or anticipate. I am armed like a warrior, though; I feel prepared for whatever is to come because I am strong, physically, mentally and spiritually. When I wake up each morning and make a commitment to practice love, towards myself and others, I am walking my most sacred, challenging, holy path. I may trip and fall, but my body and mind are agile and I catch myself before I hit the ground.