Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstarby Amy Ahlers
Most women have a nonstop chorus of criticism in their heads — voices not unlike those of the mean girls lurking in the hallways and locker rooms of junior high schools everywhere. The grown-up versions of those teenage taunts — such as “But taking care of myself is sel?sh” and “The world is against me” — zap motivation, sabotage happiness, and keep women in a stressed, “never enough” mind-set. Here, like a best buddy and street-wise big sister, coach Amy Ahlers helps women talk back. Her witty, wise, and cut-to-the-chase format arms women with the “Take that!” insights they wish they had handy when someone puts them down — even if that someone is the person in the mirror. Ahlers doesn’t offer long-winded self-therapy or simplistic happy talk; she serves up straight talk that helps women know, feel, and tell themselves the truths that can transform their deepest inner thoughts — and their lives.
— New Spirit Journal
“Ahlers’s book won't bore you with psychological jargon and dry theory. It's fun to read and filled with coaching, affirmations, inspiring quotations, and stories, yet her understanding and insight are deep and can take you by surprise.”
— Spirituality & Health
“A crucial message for women to stop being so hard on themselves. The tools and exercises in this book are transformational, and Amy Ahlers’s insight, humor, and enthusiasm are infectious.”
Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Love for No Reason
“Stop everything you are doing you have to read this book! This is the book that you pass on to your closest girlfriend or daughter when she needs to be reminded of her greatness.”
Lisa Nichols, author of No Matter What!
“This timely book will transform your fear-based illusions into miracles and reconnect you with your loving truth. With Amy as your guide, you are destined to awaken your Inner Superstar!”
Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Add More ~ing to Your Life and Spirit Junkie
“Ahlers is a cheerleader. What makes this a valuable book is that she backs her cheerleading up with viable, easy-to-implement techniques that can actually change people’s sense of well-being.”
Anna Jedrziewski, New Age Retailer
“Packed full of real truth and wisdom. I highly recommend this book for any woman who just wants to be happy.”
Kristine Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women
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Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves
Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar
By Amy Ahlers
New World LibraryCopyright © 2011 Amy Ahlers
All rights reserved.
BIG FAT LIE #1
I am not enough. Can also show up as:
I'm not good enough. I'm worthless.
The Truth: An online survey conducted by Oprah.com asked readers, "What is missing in your life?" The number one answer by far was self-love. This Lie, the one that says you are not good enough, that you are not worthy, is pandemic, but don't believe it: you are good enough. You do add up. You are worthy. Declaring that you are enough is a decision. It's high time you decided that you are enough. It's a big decision to make, so don't worry if it takes practice. You will need to decide over and over until it becomes your core belief.
I recently co-led a three-day retreat alongside Christine Arylo, with our Inner Wisdom Golden Circle, twenty-one extraordinary women who have committed to creating a breakthrough in their lives. I was astonished by their vulnerability and by their bravery in telling the truth about how the "I am not enough" Big Fat Lie has sabotaged them repeatedly. We ended our weekend together with each woman standing strong in the middle of the circle, where we affirmed for her what she most needed to hear. The words you are enough were said over and over. I now invite you into the center of our virtual circle. Imagine yourself surrounded by a group of radiant women who love you for who you are. Imagine us saying to you, "You are enough." Let those words wash over you as you complete the challenge below.
Challenge: The series of questions and suggestions below will help you remember how much you love yourself and how "enough" you are:
What is your inherent worth? Notice that the question isn't "What do you do that makes you worthy?" Start examining who you are being in the world. Make a list of the qualities that contribute to your inherent worth, and post it in a place where you will see it daily. Your inherent worth could include your positive attitude, your smile, the way you respect others, or the way you parent your child.
Note the times when you consistently put your self-worth and self-love up for sale. Do certain people in your life create a sense of unworthiness? (When you visit your best friend from high school, do you feel like a loser? Do you feel unworthy after lunch with your negative coworker?) What instigates your feelings of self-loathing? (When you think of your body and how out of shape you are, do you begin to go to the "dark side"?)
Make a commitment to be 100 percent conscious about the areas and people in your life that perpetuate feelings of unworthiness. Try to spend less time with "energy vampires" — you know, those negative people who seem to suck the energy and light right out of you. Or, if possible, drop relationships with those Negative Nellies altogether!
These feelings of unworthiness almost always stem from childhood. It's as if the kid or preteen in us is still screaming for approval and love. So let's reschool ourselves in a loving way with the following game. Our goal here is to replace feelings of unworthiness with self-love, self-acceptance, self-approval, and self-worth.
Remember those gold star charts from grammar school? Let's create one that allows you to acknowledge how well you are taking care of yourself — it's your Inner Superstar Chart. Here's an example: My client Danielle was pretty, confident, and self-reliant, but whenever she got around her sisters she was reduced to a belligerent thirteen-year-old. She gave herself a gold star every time she kept her cool around her siblings' teasing (they thought they were being funny, but she always felt criticized).
You get double gold stars when you maintain self-love in the most challenging areas and around the most challenging people. Danielle got a double gold star every time she remembered to leave the family gatherings before the heavy drinking and sappy storytelling began. You may want to give yourself stars every time you don't get sucked into a complaint session with your friend at work, or every time you say no to something you truly do not want to do (bake sale, anyone?). Remember, the goal here is to create mindfulness about those times when you tend to abandon yourself and to instead reward yourself for being on your own team.
Treat yourself when you hit milestones. Danielle's system: ten stars equaled a walk on the beach, twenty stars equaled a trip to a massage therapist or nail salon, and one hundred stars equaled a vacation! Go on — I double-dog dare you!
Affirmation: All the gold stars in the world couldn't begin to convey my true worth!
"We often block our own blessings because we don't feel inherently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough ... You're worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough."
— OPRAH WINFREY, talk show host and self-made billionaireCHAPTER 2
BIG FAT LIE #2
I'm a total fraud. Can also show up as: I'm an imposter.
The Truth: Your Inner Critic loves to hook into this Lie when you are growing, stretching, and taking risks. Whenever you are out of your comfort zone, it gives this Lie room to grow. It is normal to feel like a new version of yourself when you're playing a bigger game.
The truth is that life only gives you what you're ready for. Got a new job? You are qualified for it, or you wouldn't have gotten it. Received an invitation to a women's leadership group filled with powerhouses? Congratulations, you must be a powerhouse too!
I remember my client, Kristy, whose Inner Mean Girl punished her with this Lie when she moved into her new home. It was twice the size of her former house and felt big and almost, gulp, dare she say it, showy. For the first few months she felt like the police were going to show up and arrest her for being an imposter. Once she understood her Inner Critic as the source of this Lie, she relaxed into her new home with gratitude for what she and her husband had created.
Challenge: The next time you feel the imposter Lie kicking in, take yourself through this process:
1. Ask yourself: What is the new growth opportunity at hand? (A new job? A big promotion? A book deal? A new possession?) In Kristy's case, it was moving into a bigger home.
2. How did you create this new opportunity or thing for yourself? Kristy and her husband worked their tails off to create the down payment for their new home. They also got lucky with some real estate deals and an inheritance, and created a vision board for their dream home. Hmm ... after Kristy answered this question she finally got that they did create it after all!
3. What are the top three reasons you deserve it? Here are Kristy's: One, they needed more space, since their family was growing and both she and her husband work from home. Two, they honored her mother-in-law by caring for her, and spending part of the inheritance on their dream home is an homage to her. Three, it is her birthright to have a beautiful space to live in.
4. What does your Inner Wisdom know to be the Truth about this opportunity or thing? Kristy's Inner Wisdom knew that her home is a symbol of her and her husband's love, success, and joy. They give thanks for it nearly every day and appreciate and respect it.
As you unravel the imposter story, I know you'll discover the Truth about how much you deserve your new life! And your Inner Superstar will shine even brighter.
Affirmation: I joyfully accept the gifts in my life. I deserve all of them and know that life will never give me more than I can handle. (Hint: Feel free to insert your Inner Wisdom's Truth from question 4 above for your affirmation!)
"You are a living magnet."
— BRIAN TRACY, chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizationsCHAPTER 3
BIG FAT LIE #3
I am unlovable.
The Truth: Oh, sweetie, let's imagine that we're standing face-to-face. Let me have a moment with you — the real you. Please hear me out. We are all lovable. We are all worthy of being loved. You are lovable. No matter what you've done. No matter what mistakes you've made, there is a place of love just waiting for you. The first step in embracing this lovability is taking the stand to love yourself.
Cooper was a witty writer and a wonderful vegetarian cook, and she had an Inner Critic that was just brutal with this unlovable Lie. We named her Inner Mean Girl "Loveless Lulu." Loveless Lulu carried a martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She was always in the background, saying, "You are unlovable. Who will ever love you? You'll never be loved, kid."
After we named and drew Loveless Lulu, Cooper had a light-bulb moment. She realized that this Lie was her Inner Mean Girl's way of keeping her safe so that she would never be hurt or vulnerable. In other words, thinking she was safe from being wounded was the big payoff of believing she was unlovable. But the cost was way too high. With Loveless Lulu in charge, Cooper kept attracting men who treated her poorly, proving her "I'm unlovable" theory. Yet Cooper wanted to love, she wanted to receive true love, and she desperately wanted to stop the loveless self-talk. She began by starting a loving relationship with herself, and her life completely transformed. Not only did she become much happier in her own skin, but within one year she also ended up attracting her soulmate (they met at the farmers' market over some new spring radishes — I think it's so romantic that you never know when love will find you, don't you?) and is now happily married.
Challenge: Please find a quiet place to sit, and do the following visualization. (I'd love to lead you through this visualization. You can get it as a free download in your reader's tool kit at www.BigFatLiesTheBook.com.)
Begin by taking ten deep breaths. Let the air fill your belly, then your lungs. Count each breath on the inhale, and notice how your breathing slows down and how lovely it is to just sit.
Now imagine sitting across from yourself. You are looking into your own eyes.
Look deeply into your eyes and simply notice ... you.
Notice how beautiful you are. Notice how kind you are. Notice what is working about you.
Now notice the disappointments you carry with you. Notice the dreams that have yet to come true. Notice what isn't working.
Imagine being your own best friend for a moment. What do you want to say to yourself, your dearest, most beloved friend?
Really receive your own words.
End your discussion with "I love you. You are so lovable."
Notice the way your body feels as you say these words of love. Realize that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, a lifelong friendship that will stand the test of time.
Congratulations! You've just tapped into your Inner Superstar and Inner Wisdom, who love you unconditionally. They know how lovable you are.
Repeat this meditation daily for the next thirty to forty days. I guarantee you will shift your cellular programming and begin to see just how lovable you are.
Affirmation: Everyone is lovable, especially me.
"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
— BUDDHA, spiritual teacherCHAPTER 4
BIG FAT LIE #4
I should have known better. Can also show up as: I should have done things differently.
The Truth: If you had known better, you would have done better. We often act as if there is another version of us, the "perfect self," that is doing things substantially better than our "actual self." When we play the comparison game with this perfect self, we never measure up. The reality is that there is only the self that is present right here and now. Our actual self is doing the best she can. Let's take the word should out of our vocabulary and stop the perfect-self comparison game.
Sharon played this comparison game all the time. She was in the midst of writing her dissertation and constantly compared herself with her perfect self, feeling that she should be writing the dissertation in record time. Once we uncovered the game she was playing, we ended up laughing over it — big belly laughs. She was so relieved to stop playing the game of "beat the invisible clock." In the end, she finished her dissertation by her deadline and was very proud of her work.
Challenge: Become aware of when you play the perfect- self comparison game:
1. Begin by making a list of all the "shoulds" you've been putting on yourself.
2. Notice how these shoulds are holding you back.
3. Notice how good it feels to come clean with your should list.
4. Next forgive and acknowledge your real, present-day self.
5. Finally, change the word should on your list to the word could, and see how this lifts you into the land of possibility and inspiration. For example: "I should go to the gym three days a week" becomes "I could go to the gym three days a week"; "I should clean out the garage" becomes "I could clean out the garage"; "I should balance my checkbook" becomes "I could balance my checkbook."
Affirmation: I am always doing the best I can.
"There is good in everything." — ERNEST HOLMES, American writer and spiritual teacher, founder of the Science of MindCHAPTER 5
BIG FAT LIE #5
I don't measure up. Can also show up as: I am so much better than everyone else.
The Truth: It's kind of like gambling in Vegas. If you play the comparison game, you will eventually lose — every time. When you are on the "winning team" (i.e., you feel you're doing better, looking better, or achieving more), you lose by alienating yourself, coming off as arrogant, and creating distance instead of connection. When you're on the "losing team" (i.e., everyone else is looking better, doing better, and achieving far more than you are), you end up feeling horrible about yourself. And who wants that?
My dear friend Samantha Bennett, creator of the Organized Artist Company, once said to me, "It's like I'm in this gorgeous ballroom of my life and I'm focusing on the dust on the baseboards. And then I turn around and compare my baseboard's dust with someone else's ballroom. I'll never measure up that way." Yes! That's exactly right.
We will never know what's really going on in the lives of others. We only know the truth of our own lives. So, step out of the comparison game and step into the gorgeous ballroom of your life!
Challenge: Give up the comparison game for good, and celebrate the ballroom of your life!
Notice when you are most likely to play the comparison game. In other words, when do you look at the dust on your baseboards? Is it when you're thinking about money? Your weight or body image? Your love life? Your career?
Decide to quit your comparison addiction cold turkey. My partner at Inner Mean Girl Reform School, Christine Arylo, loves calling this a "comparison diet." Just like a new eating plan has you turning away from unhealthy food, this comparison diet asks you to be strict with yourself about your unhealthy comparison thoughts.
Gather a support team that will hold you accountable for staying "on the wagon." This team's job is to blow the whistle whenever you play the comparison game and to encourage you to focus on what you have — your gorgeous ballroom. Call your team members whenever you feel yourself heading down the comparison path.
Express gratitude for all that the ballroom of your life has to offer. Remember: many people have successfully given up addictions by going cold turkey. Let this inspire you to stop playing the comparison game.
Affirmation: I lift my eyes above the baseboards to see the whole picture of my life, full and glorious and incomparable!
"The rose does best as a rose. Lilies make the best lilies. And look! You — the best you around!"
— RUMI, thirteenth-century Persian poet and Sufi mysticCHAPTER 6
BIG FAT LIE #6
If it weren't for me, nothing would get done.
Can also show up as:
I sacrifice and sacrifice, and no one cares.
The Truth: If this Lie sounds familiar, then I hate to break it to you: you're acting like a martyr. Taking on the role of a martyr is a choice. I'm ready to live up to my name — the Wake-Up Call Coach — so get ready. If you feel like you are constantly sacrificing, only you hold the power to knock it off! And I say that as a loving truth, my dear. When you're in martyr mode, that means one of two things:
1. You want attention and something to complain about, in which case it's time to come clean with your need for negative attention. You are colluding with misery. Your double-dog dare is to go complaint free for thirty days and to discover what a creative problem solver you are.
Excerpted from Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves by Amy Ahlers. Copyright © 2011 Amy Ahlers. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Amy Ahlers, the Wake-Up Call Coach, is on a mission to wake up your Inner Superstar so you shine bright. She is a celebrated certified success coach, the CEO of Wake-Up Call Coaching (WakeUpCallCoaching.com), the cocreator of Inner Mean Girl Reform School (InnerMeanGirl.com), and the innovator of many teleseminars such as the Women Masters and the New Man, New Woman, New Life, where she has spoken alongside luminaries such as Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, SARK, Lisa Nichols, Marci Shimoff, Peggy McColl, and many, many more.
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I am a skeptic. I always look at new self-help books out of the corner of one eye--so when I say that Amy Ahlers gave me my own truth, you know it's coming from a totally sincere place. I didn't even KNOW I was lying to myself. This book is so simple, really--it just lays out the crap we say to ourselves, mostly without even thinking, and gives us a way to not only reframe it, but take action. This is not your run of the mill "you are doing everything wrong and I'm just the expert to fix you" book. NO WAY. This is about joining a movement of truth-telling superstars who will not take any more self-torture. Period. I learned something from Amy that I cannot un-learn: how to hear through my bull crap and tell the truth. This is going to be my go-to gift for friends and clients this year.
I learned so much about living a fantastic life through the lessons in this book. My only regret is that it was not available when I was growing up. This book teaches you to recognize and disarm all the criticisms that we heap upon ourselves. This is a book you will read and then keep to refer to on a very regular basis. I bought one for my friends as well because I felt it was so powerful and true. Pam from Roseville
Amy Ahlers has written a LOVE letter to you-- to every woman who has ever felt that crushing weight of self criticism... and who wants to stop! you deserve to feel cherished, satisfied and happy with every aspect of your life-- just as it is--and it's possible when you let go of those Big Fat Lies. Do yourself a big favor-- buy the book, read the book, do the exercises and find your joy!
I had the opportunity to read this book in the early stages of editing. Ahler's book is written in an easy to follow, cut to the chase and take action style. The best part is that the author walks her talk giving her book credibility, inspiration to the reader and hope for the reader in overcoming the "The Big Fat Lies". I hope one day there will a companion book for the guys. Enjoy, Russ Grant