Lisa Schlosberg weighed over 300 pounds at 17 years old. Since then she’s maintained a weight loss of 150 pounds, but her story and her message is not what you’d think. Lisa knew she deserved a better life, and diets were thrusting her into disordered eating. She never believed she had a lack of will power. She began to research about diets and weight loss, and the secret key to it all is not what what you’d expect. Lisa is now a certified health and wellness coach, personal trainer, and soon to be social worker.
Setting intentions has been at the forefront of my mind, thanks to Betty, my podcast co-host/personal law of attraction and manifestation guru! Also, I have learned that setting intentions allows us to know our values and leads to less procrastination and more overall self compassion. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and I have decided it will be the best year of my life, because like my toddler niece says, “Because I said so.” To celebrate this fresh, clean, shiny new year year of my life- I have written out 31 goals both big and small, I intend to accomplish in my 31st year on this planet.
Story time, gather round! I am going to tell you a story about failure and how at first I was a hot effing mess before I was able to manifest success. I landed my dream position after being told no! Through self advocacy, I wound up exactly where I am meant to be. If you have areas of your life that could be improved if only you found the strength to speak up, then you’re going to want to read on.
I am in the last semester in getting my Masters in Social Work. (Woo-Woo–Class of 2019!) As part of our training we are placed in two internships for a year each. In the second year, your fields of interest are considered and there is a bit more say on our part of where we wind up. Social work is a big field, social workers are EVERYWHERE. The type of social work I entered the program wanting to do is psychotherapy, I want to be a therapist.
Envisioning My Path
When I spoke with my advisor, I made it clear that I wanted to be placed somewhere I’d work clinically and directly with clients. She told about an opportunity at a well known university to work in the counseling center. The catch was, unlike most internships for social workers, this one is highly competitive. I could be rejected. PSHHHH! I am a fantastic interviewer, a passionate student, and an asset to any team I work on.
I looked at the counseling center’s website and fell head over heels in love and knew that is exactly where I belong. The school was far from where I lived, but other than that it was exactly where I wanted to be. Their training program is unmatched. I would be co-facilitating groups and doing individual therapy with undergraduates and graduates. Being the manifester that I am, I was there. That position was mine.
I was actually visiting Betty in Miami when I got the call that they liked my resumé and they invited me for an interview. Betty, my lovely personal hype-man, amped me up even more, giving me all her good vibes and energy. A couple days later I flew home, and the next morning I woke up very early and made my way to my interview.
It went awesome! They gave me the position on the spot! Big JK here!
Grappling with Failure
So, that’s not what happened at all. Here is what really happened: I spent the next two weeks checking my email 5 million times a day. I was waiting in agony to hear back. Finally, an email from one of the people I interviewed with popped up on my phone, right as I was about to take a group of eighth grade students into state testing. I didn’t get the position. To prepare for testing, I had to lock my phone away. I was going to have silent and with my thoughts for an indeterminable amount of time. Cool. 😒
I tried so HARD to fight back tears. Especially, because I did not want to distract my students while they were taking their tests and have them wondering what has Ms. Cardinalle crying about in the middle of PARCC testing. (I LOATHE state testing but that’s another story for another time.) It was my responsibility to “circulate” the room while the students tested.
It isn’t easy for me to tell you this– but in the name of being vulnerable and truth telling, I bawled my eyes out while my students sat at their computers taking their tests. Turns out teachers are real people and sometimes when they get bad news circulating the room is just not a viable option. I tried to hide my face the best I could and let the tears pass, and eventually they did, and then they’d come up again.
After testing they asked my why I was crying and I told them. Some of them shared stories about not getting into the high schools where they applied. They offered words of encouragement to me and each other. They were so sweet, I miss them very much.
One of my interviewers sent me a kind follow up email. She said I was a “high caliber” candidate, however, she the team felt that my interests weren’t aligned with the agency. No! What they hell did I say to make her believe that?
Later on I spoke with my advisor and told her I would have to interview elsewhere. She said, “This barely ever happens, just a few times in my career.” Awesome.
My advisor sent me other placements and I looked at everything with disappointment. I turned down another position I offered to me. That original internship, that was my internship. Maybe I am stubborn, maybe I can’t deal with being told no, maybe I just know exactly what is right for me, or maybe school is expensive and I want the most bang for my buck. I could not let go of the place that had rejected me.
Advocating for Myself After Rejection
I couldn’t get the words from that second email out of my head. I AM right for this position! It’s aligned with my I called my advisor and said, “Would you please ask them to reconsider?” She told me the spot still was available and she said she would call.
They granted me a second interview. I tried to remember all the questions they had asked the first time and how I answered them. Playing it all over in my head, I tried to prepare. I did not want to have to cope with rejection for the second time.
That second time I interviewed with a different team, and yes, I got it! I have been there six months. It has been one of the greatest learning and growing experiences of my life. This is the work I am meant to be doing.
Self Advocacy May Open Doors to Success
Why do have I shared this with you? Great things can happen when you advocate for yourself. Doors open! Can’t promise it will turn out for me in this scenario, it will unlikely happen this way for me again. The point is we will never know unless we take a chance and SPEAK UP!
A few people said to me, “I knew it wasn’t really no.” I also knew it wasn’t really no. Asking for a second chance was really brave. Even if they didn’t give me a second interview, I think it was an important step in learning to empower myself. This time it worked out great.
My call to action for you is to look at your life and see if there are any areas you can be advocating for yourself. Are there areas of your life that are not living up to your vision? If you can speak up on your behalf and campaign for what you know in your heart is right, I highly suggest you do so. Your story may be different from mine. No matter the outcome, I can promise, if you are clear in your intentions, self advocacy will be an empowering experience.
I shared this story with a classmate of mine. He told me he wrote a letter to a college asked them to consider his rejection. They did reconsider and let him in! Persistence can go a long way!
Let us know in the comments areas of your life that could improve, if only you advocated for yourself!
By, now we’ve all heard the term “self care.” You may have heard it explained with quotes like, “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” or “You must put your oxygen mask first, before you can assist other passengers.” That is all great information, and very true. While self care is specific ways to take care of yourself, from the mundane like making sure your space is tidy, to splurges like a day at the spa, self compassion is more of a way of being.
Self compassion, as I define it, is fine tuning that voice inside your head to speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Extensive research has shown that the power of self compassion reaches farther than having high self esteem and those that are high on the self compassion scale are more productive and tend to procrastinate less. I would say that is a super power for any dream chaser and change maker!
1 Little Exercise Before we Dive In!
Stay with me, because before we get into the 5 ways to cultivate self compassion in your life we are going to do a little exercise. Think of the last time that you did not live up to your own expectations. What did you say to yourself? Really take a second to think of the self talk you used. I’ll be waiting right here.
Okay! Now I want you to think of someone you love very much, maybe your partner, your best friend, or a parent. Would you EVER speak to them the way you spoke to yourself? Probably not. Maybe you said something cruel about your appearance, or marked yourself a failure. These are lies and are not serving you in reaching your highest potential. Negative self talk does not motivate you to persevere, nor does it bring you any closer to joy or fulfillment. While self compassion is a way of being kinder and gentler with yourself, it is no means giving you an “out” to slack and not get things done.
So where do you start? Well, read on and I’ll tell ya.
1. Define your values.
Now is a great time to dust off that old notebook or journal that’s been laying around your bedroom and write or even draw symbols of what is REALLY important to you. What is the driving force in your life? What are you striving for? Where do your priorities lie right now? If you are a student, why do you show up for class and complete your assignments? If you are a parent, what is the vision you see for your family? Perhaps you are an entrepreneur trying to grow your business. Whatever your circumstances may be, take this time to explore your “why.”
Being well oriented with your values will help guide and anchor you. When life gets complicated and important decisions have to be made, falling back on what is really important to you can be a helpful tool.
2. Nip Negative Self Talk in the Bud
We can say awful things to ourselves and not even think twice about it. I will challenge you here to be more conscious of that– I don’t want you saying mean things about my friend! So, you, my friend, make an effort to notice when you are using unkind words to speak to yourself. We train our brains, and while making a new habits like this we create new pathways in our brain.
When you do catch yourself, take a pause and ask yourself, “Is there another way I can say that?” For example, if you did not land a job you really wanted, or a presentation did not go the way you had hoped, instead of saying, “I am such a failure,” you could say, “I did my best and I have learned from this experience.” You tweak this to your specific circumstances, and make sure the kinder words you chose are also true. You want to believe in those empowering words.
The more you catch yourself and the more you practice speaking kindly to yourself, the more natural it will become. This is scientific fact folks!
3. Keep Calm and Use an Affirmation
An affirmation is simple statement often used to uplift and motivate and can be a really useful tool in cultivating more self compassion. There are tons and tons of affirmations online you can access with a quick google search, for example, “affirmations for a positive body image,” or “affirmations for bringing wealth into my life.” You can also write your own that is custom tailored to you. I think that makes it all the more empowering. You can repeat your affirmation to yourself as often as you like.
Find or write one or a few that speak to you and make them visible. Sticky notes are your friend! Often, I will suggest my clients stick their affirmations on their desks or work spaces, in the mirrors in their bathrooms, on their bedroom wall, or wherever they experience negative self talk the most. For clients who feel a little strange that people may see their affirmation I suggest they keep it handy on their phone and stick a blank sticky just as a private reminder to themselves to use their affirmation.
Examples: I am powerful and loved. | I am enough. | My body is a gift that carries me through life. | Everyday I am attracting money into my life.
4. Touch Yourself!
I am not being funny here. Touch releases oxytocin, a chemical in our brain connected with love and positive feelings. When you feel like you need a boost you can give yourself a hug. It may sound strange, but again, we can’t argue with science! Stroke your arm, give yourself a little squeeze and release that oxytocin!
5. Yes, and Self Care!
Although self compassion and self care are not interchangeable terms, self care certainly would fall under the umbrella of self compassion. If self compassion means treating yourself as you would a loved one, taking time to meet your needs is essential.
What your self care looks like is up to you, as you are the expert on you! Mine ranges from making sure I am staying connected to friends and family to making sure I pick up my prescriptions are filled and picked up on time. If you want more information on what self care and what it may look like for you, again, google is our trusty friend. Maybe it is yoga and mediation, maybe it’s more sleep and well-rounded eating. Maybe you are a busy parent and it is setting boundaries to make sure you’ve had the time to bathe and sit down for a meal. The point is, ask yourself what you need and prioritize that.
Dr. Kristen Neff (literally) wrote the book on self compassion. For more in depth information and the research behind this stuff head to her website: https://self-compassion.org/.
Betty and I have been working hard to create a community surrounding the Dream Chasers and Change Makers podcast. I have been doing research on how to engage more social media users who would be interested in brave and vulnerable content. One thing I have learned, from social media guru, Jenna Kutcher, is that users like to know the faces behind the pages they are interacting with. That translates to: we need to post pictures of ourselves!
In my past taking photos was something I loved to do. It was my self-care before I even knew that buzzword. It may sound superficial, but for me it was therapeutic. When my life felt out of control, and I was anxiety ridden and depressed, when I had the energy, getting glammed and having my photo taken just felt really freaking good. If I couldn’t get a handle on how I felt, at least I could control how I looked. Pictures were a way for me to encapsulate this. Actually, my dear friend, who has since passed away, Kevin, would sometimes say to me, “Do you want me to take your picture?” when I was feeling down. He knew me so well.
In the past few years, for the most part, this has not been the case. I tend to shy away from the camera. My body has grown and aged some. When my picture is taken I get pangs of fear and think horrible thoughts, that I would never say about anyone else, like, “Oh God, I hope I don’t look disgusting in that picture.”
It’s funny because, as a clinical social worker (in training!) I tell my clients all the time, to try and speak to themselves the way they would a friend and in this situation I am totally not taking my own advice. Realizing this, and then learning that a way to start a community online is to show people who you are I decided I was going to have to get my picture taken.
I recently spent a couple days in in New York City. I brought a couple cute outfits with me and decided I was going to fake it until I make it and pose in cool looking places all over the village. I was feeling very self conscious and worrying about what passerbys may think, like, “What does this girl think, she’s a model?” I really wanted these pictures to come out nice, so I threw caution to the wind and posed my little heart out.
I was doing a pose where I was looking over my shoulder (what a professional, I know) and this tiny little girl, maybe three years old passes by perched on her dad’s shoulders. She has this fleece hat Velcro-ed around her cherub face and she squeals, “Daddy look! She is SO pretty!”
My heart melted into a puddle, obviously. It reminded me that all the little kids and babies riding on their dads’ shoulders are not born hating their bodies. WE teach them that. Every time we say how unhappy with our bodies whether it’s because parts are too big or too small, not firm enough, too wrinkly, we normalize shaming bodies. We are teaching children to look at their little bodies and the bodies of other children and comparing and judging and eventually hating.
These past few months I have been reading and learning about diet culture, and how as kids we were indoctrinated into this belief system about what a body must look like in order to be beautiful and healthy. That’s why I was an eight year old looking at my thighs underneath the bubbles in my bathtub praying to God to make them thinner. I stepped away from learning about these things because it was a lot of information and honestly very overwhelming to take in. One thing that has been good for me is following people on social media that have all different kinds of bodies, and not necessarily body positivity pages exclusively, just all types of people living their lives with purpose in the skin they’re in.
Unlearning what I learned about bodies is a journey, and that little moment on the street was truly a gift from the universe. Joy is beautiful. A free spirit is beautiful. I am so pretty, and in the words of my three year old niece, “Because I said so.”