Self-Soothing vs. Self-Medicating

I still self-medicate with food. 

When I’m writing and have deadline stress, all of a sudden I feel like I “need” popcorn. It is irrational and powerful and does not let up until I eat some popcorn. 

So often, overeating is about what’s happening on the inside. It’s reaching for food when you are really seeking love, acceptance, happiness, or comfort in the face of a difficult situation or relationship. 

My coach has helped me discover that my “pressure cooker” feelings of deadline stress are old limiting beliefs about what I’m capable of. It’s the tyrant inside me—who I have quieted in so many areas of my life—who is still bullying me to perform and be “perfect.” I’m coming up with ways to self-soothe rather than self-medicate with food.

I wanted to share this blog by Dr. Anne Nanmoum because I thought she did a fabulous job of describing the difference between self-soothing and self-medicating those painful emotions you may be avoiding by reaching for your favorite comfort food.


After a particularly stressful day, a friend of mine noticed that she came home from the grocery store with several items she would not normally buy: a wine cooler, an apple pie, and a gallon of ice cream. “If I keep up with this, I will end up fat and miserable as well as stressed out!

She realized that she needed to come up with a better approach to handling her stress, including ways to “self-soothe” rather than “self-medicate.”

The ability to self-soothe rather than self-medicate in the face of stress, anxiety, boredom, or other uncomfortable emotions is an important skill for healthy living. When we don’t have good strategies for self-soothing, we may be inclined to overeat, abuse alcohol or drugs, bury ourselves in work, or spend hours watching TV or YouTube videos in order to “numb” ourselves.

What is the difference between self-soothing and self-medicating?

Self-medicating generally involves doing something that distracts from or avoids the uncomfortable feeling, at least temporarily. In addition to the more obvious forms of self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, self-medicating can also take the form of compulsive shopping, over-exercising, video games, orany activity that anesthetizes us from the discomfort without addressing the underlying problem. (Like when taking painkillers for a broken bone without setting the fracture, the pain will return when the medication wears off.)

While self-medicating involves numbing and avoiding, self-soothing involves acceptance of the discomfort, and the decision to do something that will make us feel better in the long term as well as the short term. Self-soothing does not involve activities that will ultimately hurt our health, relationships, or integrity.

Self-soothing could be the decision to go for a walk rather than eat that pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, or call a friend rather than drown our anxiety or exhaustion in a few glasses of wine. Writing in a journal, gardening, doing yoga, painting, or just taking a few deep breaths can also be self-soothing.

Sometimes an activity can go from self-soothing to self-medicating when done excessively or compulsively, even “healthy” activities such as exercise, work, or community service.

Try asking yourself these questions if you are trying to decide if you are self-medicating:

  1. Am I doing this in order to avoid an uncomfortable feeling or situation?
  2. When the pleasure of this activity wears off, will I feel better about myself and the situation, or worse?
  3. Is this activity likely to bring me closer to those people I want to be close to, or create more distance?

We all self-medicate to some extent, or as author and researcher Brené Brown describes it, we engage in an activity to “take the edge off” of the pain, anxiety, disappointment, shame, or other difficult emotions we are facing. Her research has shown that individuals who are able to feel the feelings, stay mindful about the numbing behaviors, and try to lean into the discomfort of unpleasant emotions are more likely to be healthy and happy.

AnneNamnoumBooksWhile virtually everyone numbs and takes the edge off to some extent, addictions develop when the numbing behaviors become compulsive and chronic.

For me, reading books can be self-soothing, but at other times it can be self-medicating if it keeps me from confronting a situation that is bothering me, or distances me from my family members. (My children would likely point to the piles and piles of self-help books in my office as evidence that this is something of an addiction for me.)

The first step in moving from self-medicating to self-soothing is to notice when we are “numbing,” and to get curious about what we are numbing from. Exploring different options for self-soothing, finding which appeal to us most, and practicing a few of these regularly can reduce our tendency to self-medicate when faced with unpleasant emotions.

AnneNamnoumPhotoAnne Nanmoum, M.D. is a Johns Hopkins trained OB/GYN and Reproductive Endocrinologist who wants women to thrive rather than just survive. She offers workshops and seminars in the Atlanta area on the science of happiness and well-being, and factors that influence your health such as stress, hormones, and nutrition. She believes that being well-informed gives you the ability to make healthier choices, but medical information is often contradictory, confusing, and ever-changing. She uses her background as a medical doctor to share information in a way that is evidence-based but easy to understand in order to help you take better care of yourself. Her goal is to give women the insight and confidence they need to become their own health experts and advocates.

To read her blog go to


My blog is moving! To keep following my posts after January 15, you will need to follow my new blog, at I look forward to continuing the journey with you!

Beyond Tragedy: A Wake Up Call

Many people are emotionally reeling from the events that happened Friday in Connecticut.

In yesterday’s blog, I shared my deeply personal story about the self-healing power of forgiveness—even if we belief the actions of someone are unforgivable.

Today, I wanted to share a blog written by my coach, Kendra Thornbury, that outlines how to move forward and create meaning during this challenging time.

While these steps are particularly powerful right now, many of these are the same steps you will need to take to clear any internal blocks—including those that are keeping you from getting the body you want.

Love Yourself

There’s a deep cry that will likely go unheard and get lost in the reactions to the shooting.

It’s the cry of the shooter. As horid as his actions were, to not look to the cause of such actions isirresponsible and, frankly, a disgrace to the lives that were lost.

It’s imperative to recognize that what transpired is an outcome of a systemic problem. The awful outcry is a demonstration of fear based beliefs gone totally out of control.

How do we move forward? How can we create meaning from this?

It begins with accepting responsibility for how we each play a part in creating our world.

This means…

  • Take full responsibility for being an empowered, whole, at-choice member of our human family.
  • No longer tolerate the kinds of choices and behaviors, even on a small scale, that lead to such eruptions.
  • Raise your standards.

It starts with you.

1) Eradicate the violence toward yourself.

The truth is that most of us commit acts of violence toward our selves almost every day.

  • You talk negatively, even violently, to yourself.
  • You judge yourself.
  • You tolerate less than the ideal.
  • You put up with stress & anxiety.
  • You engage depleting habits.
  • You ignore your soul’s desires.
  • You dismiss your dreams.
  • You eat processed & non-nutrient dense food.
  • You abuse your body.
  • You resign to relationships that aren’t an honorable match.
  • You live in fear.

Commit to be a co-creator of peace by stopping any and all acts of violence toward yourself!

First, GET REAL about how you are violent within yourself.

What acts of violence do you carry out toward yourself each day?

What critical, condemning thoughts do you repeat about yourself?

What habits do you allow that are less than loving (if not abusive) to your body?

What choices to you make that suck the life from your soul?

Then, DECIDE you are worth more.

Lastly, CHOOSE to replace the old beliefs & habits with loving and peaceful ones. Nothing less will do!

2) Integrate Your Shadow.

We all have parts.

I am devoted, on purpose and generous.

I am also self-serving, lazy and protective.

Our complexity and dimensions are vast. Yet we all walk around pretending to be “perfect”, keeping up the persona we believe we need to keep in order to belong.

When parts of you that you deem as being unworthy go unacknowledged or unexpressed, they go “underground”.

(These can be parts of you that you are embarrassed or ashamed of.)

What happens is that they become unconscious, shadow aspects. And rather than going away (which you are trying to make them do), they end up running you.

What you run from runs you.

My appeal to you is to get radically honest about your shadow parts and learn to accept and integrate them. As Debbie Ford says, shadows teach us that there is gold to be mined in every experience.

3) Make It Sacred To Feel.

The oppression of emotion DOES NOT WORK. Our emotional intelligence system has been relegated to a weak place. We’ve collectively dismissed emotions, resulting in unconconscious and destructive behaviors. (The Shadow)

It’s natural to feel. Yet every day we deny feelings exist.

My invitation to you is to make it sacred to feel. Choose to hold emotions with reverence and respect.

This is what I’ve done. And in the last 5 days I’ve allowed a spectrum of emotions to move through me. Without this, I would go crazy. I would be boiling just beneath the surface, vulnerable to burst at any unpredictable moment.

surrender to my feelings and let them inform me of a richer reality that does not exist when I pretend and numb out.

After you choose to make your feelings sacred, learn how to be with, express and manage them in a healthy and constructive way.

4) Own Your Projections.

Here’s the “not-so-pretty” way of getting to the point here. People are barfing their stuff on each other all the time.

Mostly we believe it’s “justified” because we feel hurt or victimized by what another says or does. But really, it’s time to grow up and recognize that NO ONE is responsible for our reality.

The truth is that you are powerful and you are the creator.

So stop making others’ responsible for how you feel and what results you get and take charge of reality.

5) Forgive.

It’s time.

Built up resentment and anger is toxic.

The wounds. The betrayal. What he did. What she didn’t do. How you were wronged. The love you didn’t get. The hurts that happened 10, 20, 30 years ago.

Let it go.

Receive the lesson.

And let it go.

6) Love More.

It all comes down to love.

The challenges I pose to you above are ultimately acts of self-love.

And in loving yourself, you will naturally and readily extend the unconditional and heart-centered attention that our people and planet are in such desperate need of right now.

KendraKendra E Thornbry, MA, is an international highly acclaimed coach, spiritual guide, speaker, facilitator, humanitarian and entrepreneur. She’s on the cutting edge of spiritual thought and conscious business practice, blazing a new trail & wealth revolution.

She has served as a board member for the Women’s Business Exchange, Woman’s Way Red Lodge and has been President for the Washington Chapter of the International Coaching Federation.

A personal growth junkie, Kendra’s latest adventures in challenging the status quo include packing her belongings in storage and travelling for 16 months (and still counting).

Labels aside, she considers herself a human being simply doing her best to walk a path of authenticity and integrity while making a much-needed difference.

You can sign up for Kendra’s blog at


My blog is moving to my new website To keep following my posts after January 15, you will need to follow my new blog. I look forward to continuing the journey with you!

Wake Up to Life to Get the Sleep You Want

While I’m in Sedona, Arizona, attending a business mastermind retreat, I’ve asked a few fabulous coaches to step in with blogs. Today’s guest blog is by Jodie Rodenbaugh. As a coach who works with widows, Jodie embodies the importance of self-care in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

While talking to someone yesterday they asked me, “What keeps you up at night?”

I thought about this for a second. I know many people who don’t sleep at night or wake up in the middle of the night–and honestly I used to be one of them.

Before my husband died, I would toss and turn while he lay there sound asleep. He’d wake up excited for the day at the crack of dawn ready to take it on, saying things to me like, “Come on Babe, it’s a beautiful day to be here. Get up, love me, and be happy!

My response would be something short of a grunt, and his “happy dance” irritated me even more.

I never knew how he could fall asleep so fast, stay asleep, and pretty much sleep wherever he laid his head.

I never knew why I couldn’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or why the perfect sleeping environment was so important to me.

I never knew any of this until I the moment I woke up like I’ve never known awake before. The day my young, vibrant, alive husband was accidentally killed during a “routine” local block anesthesia procedure prior to shoulder surgery.

I went to bed that night and slept.

Through that first week I wondered why I was able to sleep at a time like this when I had such a difficult time sleeping before. I wanted to know why my biggest fear had become my reality and could sleep when I hadn’t slept before.

Was it because the things I thought that mattered before didn’t actually matter? I realized that there was not much in those weeks after he died that I could control but the one thing I could control was what I chose to feel.

That was a new concept to me because over the years, after many other smaller hurts, I got pretty good at hiding my feelings—or even ignoring them all together.

Becoming a widow was so sudden. It left me standing there completely vulnerable and naked. The only thing I knew for sure is it felt worse than any pain I had ever known and I didn’t want to stay in that feeling.

On the other hand, I recognized the beauty in feeling the emotions that I had shut out for so long. I learned that by ignoring my negative emotions—like sadness, shame, anger, resent, and blame—that I was blocking the positive emotions—like peace, freedom, love, and pure joy—from entering my heart.

I learned I was hiding from vulnerability and when I found myself completely vulnerable—feeling as though I had no choiceI learned that I really do have a choice.

I could ignore those feelings I was really good at hiding OR I could embrace them, show them, and receive them. I could open myself up to choosing life and loveand that’s exactly what I did. 

After four years, I still have struggles with trying to control an outcome or person, and worrying that something “may” happen in the future. I sometimes wonder what I “should” have done in the past, or what others think.

But the difference is I feel it, I allow it, and then I start digging.

I know the behaviors that tell me I’m ashamed or feeling alone, and those behaviors are pretty simple: hiding, blaming, complaining, shaming others, not completing tasks or committing to things. When I catch myself I have to ask:

  • “Why is this bothering me?”
  • “What am I ignoring by trying to control the things I cannot control?”

What I find is real, raw, and sad pain–and I let it come. The vulnerability that comes from feeling alone, like you don’t belong in the world, or plain old shame that comes from feeling “not good enough” or standing out in a crowd when others are afraid of your bright light.

Finding the “cause” quiets those thoughts down and I have an opportunity to sleep.

No one’s going to die if you go to sleep. More money or time isn’t going to magically appear if you stay awake and the problem will not go away in the morning, because you still see it as a “problem.”

Problems and struggles are only problems and struggles because you see them as problems and struggles. Start looking at things as opportunities to grow and ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if I go to sleep now?”

Jodie xo

Jodie Rodenbaugh inspires young, widowed moms who feel overwhelmed, alone, and uncertain to catapult beyond their existence in the “widow” status so they can allow themselves to know and adore who they are, be confident in what they want and feel empowered to love and live a life they never knew could exist for them. 

Jodie holds a Masters in Education and spent 16 years dedicated to teaching children the love of learning and eventually expanded her practice to coaching teachers. Her decision to leave education, a Masters degree, and a full-time paying job in which she was comfortable enough not to ever worry about money came from the experiences she had after suddenly becoming a young, pregnant widow. 

She followed her heart and the many clues she was given from God and the Universe and took the biggest leap of faith—in herself—as she resigned from education to share her lessons and passion for life. She helps widows untangle from their fears, overwhelment, and pains that are suffocating their hearts and controlling their thoughts so that they are free to live and love again. 

Learn more about Jodie and read her blog at

Are you struggling with your weight?

Are you worried about holiday weight gain?

Are you ready to get the body you really want?

I have 2 coaching spaces open to help you love your way slim. If you are serious about transforming your mind and body so that:

  • You create the holidays you really want and never feel deprived.
  • You start the New Year energized and feeling fabulous.
  • You break the cycle of losing and regaining weight—once and for all.

Secure your spot now by emailing me at by November 11 to schedule your complimentary breakthrough session. These powerful and empowering sessions are available on a limited basis.

Don’t wait till Jan 2 to take inspired action. Start creating the body—and life—you want today.


The Non-Negotiable Key to Success

While I’m in Sedona, Arizona, attending a business mastermind retreat, I’ve asked a few fabulous coaches to step in with blogs. Today’s guest blog is by Denise Hedges. While Denise is a business development coach and marketing strategist, her insight on mindset absolutely applies to weight loss. 

I can tell within 10 to 15 minutes. It’s so obvious.

I’ve coached a lot of people, and the contrasts between them is striking, but nothing has more influence over how successful they’ll be and how rapidly they progress than one particular factor.

From this one aspect, I can tell if they’re going to proceed normally toward getting what they want … facing just the usual challenges of life and business … or they’re really going to struggle. What is that?

I can focus it and personalize it best by asking a question.

How much time and energy do you spend arguing for your limitations?

In other words, how much of the conversation you have with yourself in your head, not to mention with others, sounds like: I can’t do this … that’s impossible … nothing’s gonna work … it’s all too hard … I don’t deserve it?

Sound familiar? Well, that’s where the contrast occurs. Really successful, happy people don’t do this.

Look, most of us do at least a little bit of this on a bad day. I get that, but what I’m talking about here is a habitual, reflexive pattern of approaching life this way. Warning: It’s not a harmless indulgence. It’s toxic … to you and your dreams.

The quality of your internal communication matters more than anything, because it’s so absolutely fundamental. If it’s reflexively negative, not only can you not run at full speed, you can’t even really get out of the starting blocks, because you don’t really believe good things are possible for you. That’s a bad place to be.

And if you want to get out of that bad place and get on with the business of having what you want, that’s where you have to go to work first.

It can be a challenge for me as a coach, because most people want to get on with making plans and creating strategies, thinking that strategizing and taking action is what’s going to make them successful where they haven’t been successful before.

These things won’t help if the dialogue in your head is negative, resistant, and blocking. They’ll only help if the path of possibility is open.

And it doesn’t even have to be wide open. What matters is not so much that someone is blazingly optimistic or free of doubt or fear, it’s just that there’s an absence of the quicksand that is self-defeating self-talk.

Simply put, just don’t erect your own roadblocks and when you do encounter real ones, don’t amplify them, and you’ll be fine.

Now, please, please, please don’t think this is some kind of holier than thou message. Ha! Hardly. I grew up negative. If there were an Olympic event for embracing negativity to the fullest, my family would have taken the gold!

And don’t think that if you’re currently disposed to thinking this way that you’re doomed. It just means that before you can make serious progress toward your goals, you have to transform your mindset.

I’m here to testify that it can be done.

A year after my husband died, a friend who was truly concerned about me gave me a book by Louise Hay … You Can Heal Your Life. I read it and then read it again … every day, sometimes several times a day. I realized I had to reset my default state of mind. I took it on as a project, as if my life depended on it … because it did!

The key is consistency. You can’t just read a book once and be done. It’s about consistently taking in the message and internalizing it.

Two years later, I was talking with another good friend in my car and she volunteered out of the blue that I was “the most positive person she knew.” I almost drove off the road! Confirmation!

Do I still have to work at it? Yeah, each and every day.

Okay, so what do you do if you’ve identified yourself as a negative self-talker who argues for your limitations and you want to change the default state?

Here are some terrific books and CDs that’ll help:

Ask and It Is Given – Esther and Jerry Hicks

Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting – Lynn Grabhorn

Wishcraft…How to Get What You Really Want – Barbara Sher

The Attractor Factor – Joe Vitale

You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay

decide ~ believe ~ dream & The Power of Attraction – Denise Hedges

Success in anything starts between your ears. The trick is to make sure what’s in there is empowering.

All the best,


Denise Hedges is a business development coach and marketing strategist with over 25 years experience in sales and marketing. As the co-founder of Business BreakThrough Institute, she’s created the world’s foremost attraction-based sales and marketing system. Denise specializes in working with women business owners, helping them move past any doubt or uncertainty about sales and marketing, attract more clients and customers, and make more money!

Denise is a Professional Certified Coach and a member of the Coach University Faculty, training personal and business coaches all over the world.

Check out her website at:

Are you struggling with your weight?

Are you worried about holiday weight gain?

Are you ready to get the body you really want?

I have 2 coaching spaces open to help you love your way slim. If you are serious about transforming your mind and body so that:

  • You create the holidays you really want and never feel deprived.
  • You start the New Year energized and feeling fabulous.
  • You break the cycle of losing and regaining weight—once and for all.

Secure your spot now by emailing me at by November 11 to schedule your complimentary breakthrough session. These powerful and empowering sessions are available on a limited basis.

Don’t wait till Jan 2 to take inspired action. Start creating the body—and life—you want today.


Healthy Communication From the Inside Out

While I’m in Sedona, Arizona, attending a business mastermind retreat, I’ve asked a few fabulous bloggers to step in. Today’s guest blog is by Renée Vos de Wael.

Communication is something we do all day.

It starts in the morning when you wake up and goes on until you have brushed your teeth and switched off the light to enjoy a blissful nights rest.

It is interesting to watch how you communicate throughout the whole day—with yourself and others.

Have you ever taken the time to be your own observer? To do so in an unbiased way is challenging to say the least. I know.

I gave myself the task to pay close attention to the words I use during the day—and was surprised by the results. It took me a couple of tries not to judge myself.

It started out with simple things. For example, I walked out the door and was almost to the car when I realized that I had forgotten my phone. I had to go back inside to get it and while walking back I noticed the conversation I was having with myself.

“Why are you always forgetting something? You must be a real idiot to forget such simple things.”

All this negative self-talk going on inside my head just because I forgot my phone. “Really?” I had to stop and ask, “Is it necessary to be so harsh with myself?”

Another moment of self-observation was while doing homework with the kids.

Coordinating homework for three kids is not my strong suit. As a kid, I always found doing my own homework hard because I never understood the purpose of it! So I find it a challenge to get my children motivated.

After a snack and something to drink . . . homework!

The requirement that homework has to be completed the next day makes it a lot easier. (It’s always better to finish everything and not leave things to the last moment!)

But after a while, I start to get annoyed. They are tired and want to play, and I end up forcing them to finish their homework by any means possible. Then the internal dialogue starts and I’m questioning my abilities as a mum.

“Am I too hard on them? The things I say are not always the nicest, which comes from forcing something on them.”

“Am I a good mum for putting them in this school? This is our life at the moment and there isn’t much choice of schooling.”

While I’m having this conversation in my head, as soon as the kids are finished with their work, they’re off and playing. They’re all smiles and we’re laughing together again and all seems forgotten.

I needed to start using different words with myself so I didn’t feel so beaten and bruised.

And I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this type of negative self-talk.

This is something that you are doing to you. No one else is judging you this way, so why are you judging yourself so harshly?

And more importantly, how do you change your internal communication?

As the Nike commercial says, “Just do it!”

Here’s an exercise to get you started:

Notice every time something nasty or self-destructive turns up in your thoughts about yourself, and replace it with a positive thought. It can be a word or phrase you come up with, or it can be something from a book.

Notice that the more you practice this exercise, the better you are at getting your emotions under control and not being so critical of yourself.

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy, but it is doable.

It not only helps you feel better about yourself, but it impacts those around you in a positive way. And if you stumble and fall, get up and start again!



Renée Vos de Wael (PCC) is an open-hearted and full-energy personality. She is a coach, educator, group facilitator, walker, traveler, wife, mother, and student. Being a globetrotter for over 10 years has given her an open mind and flexible attitude towards life. She is an intuitive who sees the beauty and light in people, even before they have noticed it themselves. Renee loves the idea that we can reinvent ourselves whenever we need—or want to. Working with and for people has been her passion. The different cultures where Renee has lived has taught her to view life from different angles, and engage in a life filled with challenges and opportunities.

A member of both the International Coaching Academy and International Coach Federation, Renee’s background is mixed in various spiritual philosophies. She has studied with many teachers, including Sonia Choquette, and is a trained Six Sensory™ Level 2 Practitioner.

You can read Renee’s blog at

Are you struggling with your weight?

Are you worried about holiday weight gain?

Are you ready to get the body you really want?

I have 2 coaching spaces open to help you love your way slim.

If you are serious about transforming your mind and body so that:

  • You create the holidays you really want and never feel deprived.
  • You start the New Year energized, and feeling fabulous.
  • You break the cycle of losing and regaining weight—once and for all.

Secure your spot now by emailing me at by November 11 to schedule your complimentary breakthrough session. These powerful and empowering sessions are available on a limited basis.

Don’t wait till Jan 2 to take inspired action. Start creating the body—and life—you want today.

A Winning Formula

While I’m in Washington D.C. giving two Energy Leadership workshops, I’ve asked a few fabulous bloggers to step in. Today’s post is by Kristin Barton Cuthriell.

What do you choose to see?

If you view the glass half empty, your focus will be on that which you do not have. If you view the glass half full, you will feel grateful for that which you have.

Perspective, my friend, perspective. It really is the key to happiness.

What glasses will you put on today? What will you choose to see? What will you choose to do? Where is your focus?

“From thoughts to feelings to actions, they will all react affirmatively when you stay inspired and get out in front of yourself in ways that are consistent with what you want to become. Declare yourself to be a genius, to be an expert, to be in an atmosphere of abundance, and keep that vision so passionately that you can do nothing but act upon it. As you do, you will send out the attraction energy that will work with you to materialize your actions based upon these stated declarations.”

-Dr. Wayne Dyer 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace

We often become what we believe ourselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. When I believe I can, I acquire the ability to do it, even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”


“No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities always see them, for they’re always there.”

– Norman Vincent Peale

“Where there is no vision the people perish.”

-Proverbs 29:18

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.”

-Abraham Lincoln

A winning formula: Vision + Action + Lots and lots of hard work = Dream Realized

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Half Full Glass of Positivity (

Limitless Possibilities for Top Performers – What makes them tick? (

Glass Half Full (

The Power of Intention (

Kristin Barton Cuthriell, M.Ed, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and educator currently working in private practice, counseling individuals, couples, and families. She utilizes a hope based cognitive behavior approach to therapy and other empirically validated treatments to help individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and difficult life transitions.

Prior to entering the mental health field, Kristin spent a decade teaching first, third, and sixth grades. She received a BA in Education from Virginia Tech and went on to earn her Master’s in Education and her Master’s in Social Work. Kristin also enjoys speaking and writing and is currently working on a book designed to help people live more fulfilling lives.

You can read her blog at

Do ONE Thing that Scares You

While I’m in Washington D.C. giving two Energy Leadership workshops, I’ve asked a few fabulous bloggers to step in. Today’s post is by Elisa Haggarty

Think about all the things that trigger fear in you. For some, it might be heights, trying tofu, being around big dogs, or riding a bicycle.

Riding a bicycle?

For a while the thought of getting back on a bicycle made me well up with fear and anxiety. It has been five years since I was in a pretty serious bike accident—one that took me out of commission for at least four weeks of physical activity and took a toll on me emotionally and mentally for a long time after the bruises faded.

Since the bike accident, I had a lot of excuses as to why getting back on a bike wasn’t possible. After all, I lived on a small island for the past two years in southeast Asia, was always traveling and besides, running has always been my “go to” workout fix.

Since recently landing in Brooklyn, I’ve come to realize the joys of hopping on a bicycle and exploring the neighborhood again. The streets are quiet (minus the occasional gospel outbreak which I thoroughly enjoy) and there are a ton of parks where Kathy and I can cruise until sundown.

What does all this fear talk have to do with Hanna’s blog which is geared towards wellness and weight loss?

Well, if you take a look at what fear does to you on the emotional level and how much it stimulates your stress hormone (cortisol), it’s pretty evident that if you want optimal health, you have to address your fears.

No amount of leafy greens is going to balance you out if you are constantly living in fear and your cortisol levels are through the roof. More importantly, you have to experience the joys of looking fear in the face and taking the high road. 

For me, conquering my fears has been more than getting back on a bicycle.

Two years ago, it was getting on a plane and flying 8,000 miles to Hong Kong. Soon after, it was spending 10 days in silence at a Taiwainese monastery. Both of these acts reduced me to tears.

Tears are okay. In fact, they are a great sign you are onto something great and you just need to keep pushing on!

Just recently, it was leaving everything that was “secure” in the teaching world with insurance/retirement/consistent paychecks and taking the leap of faith to turn over a new leaf and pursue what I believe I was put on this earth to do: to inspire and help others heal. 

There are big changes for me coming up. The date is set and my new company/brand will be launching on October 1st. 

I am beyond scared.

This has required me to do things that are completely new to me and out of my comfort zone. For instance, I’ve had to get over my own ego and jump in front of a camera to create video content for my website. That alone was terrifying to me on so many levels.

But I did it. I got out of my own way, conquered my fears of getting in front of the camera, and let my light shine. This was an important step on the path to providing resources, recipes and knowledge on how to achieve your ideal health/weight/happiness.

This is something that I believe strongly to be YOUR BIRTHRIGHT. We aren’t meant to crawl to the finish line people. We can arrive with the same amount of optimism, happiness and sense of adventure as we carried when we first started this thing.

What is your fear? What will you conquer this week?

Elisa Haggarty received her Professional Holistic Health Coaching training at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has started training at The Natural Gourmet Institute, the number one culinary school for health supportive cooking in the country. Her focus is health supportive cooking and consulting through a whole foods organic diet.

She has studied over 100 different dietary theories  from some of the best minds in nutrition and functional medicine. Recognizing there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to nutrition and wellness, she designs personal treatment plans for her clients that include dietary and lifestyle upgrades designed specifically for them.

Teaching others about food and healing is Elisa’s passion. She loves experimenting with new ingredients/recipes to see how it can help to transform the human body from deprivation to abundance. Her purpose is to help people achieve their health goals, rejuvenate their life through whole foods cooking, and in the process, enjoy some delicious recipes that feed the mind, body and soul.

Read Elisa’s blog at Her new website, Culinary Farmacy, a hub for food and healing (and more!) goes live on October 1. Find it at

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