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If you’ve been around the self-help world for awhile….. I bet you’ve heard this statement: “You are the average of the 5 people with whom you spend the most time.” It’s true.  I’m extremely mindful of who I allow to sit at my Table of Excellence.  I like to surround myself with people who are into possibility, not drama; love, not hate; and fun, not misery.

But, before understanding the influence of my environment, I was the kind of gal that would jump into the emotional sewage with people.  If you were angry, I’d get angry too.  If you were full of worry, well, I could worry with the best of them. And, joyful people lit me up.

So, if I were the sum of the people I’m around, it made complete sense to start weeding them out, right?

I took massive action.

I went crazy ridding every ‘negative’ person out of my life! In fact, I made quite the scene and ruffled a lot of feathers along the way.

My new Mantra?

“Just get rid of them so I can feel good.”

(Afterall….that was what this principle that I had just started applying into my life meant, right?)

So it happened — and fast! I started distancing myself from family members and chopping off people from my life who had been with me since birth.

You’d think that it felt fabulous, getting rid of all that negative energy.

But, it didn’t.

And, it certainly did not feel elegant or graceful by bulldozing people out of my way. When all was said and done, I felt really sad at my so-called “empowering behavior.”  People who loved me no longer deserved to be in my life because I was becoming “enlightened” and taking control of my life.

Honestly, it felt like all of those times when I’d not allow myself to buy ‘junk’ food because I thought I was unable to control myself around it. Then, as soon as I was around a bag of Cheetohs, I’d lose complete control.

The only difference now, was instead of trying control my dietary intake, I was trying to control the people around me.

I needed others to change in order for me to feel good.  I needed to distance myself in order to gain emotional control.

Instead of empowering, I felt felt emotionally weak.

And definitely not chic.

So….What do the French Women do?

Here is an interesting take on what the French ladies do instead of ridding people from their lives:

A french lady I know disclosed to me that most French women cultivate their best and longest lasting friendships in their late teens and early 20s. Whereas ladies like myself tended to gravitate to the more and better friends are coming soon approach.

And, what I have also noticed is that for the French woman, family is everything. They learn how to coexist. (In my experience, most Europeans are this way) . You see, family is the hub of their life. If their mother doesn’t agree with them, they would never just “cut” their Mom out of their life. They focus on connection and celebrating with their family and they learn to ignore the rest.

The French have taught me to work on, nurture and cultivate the relationships that I already have in my life and be mindful of who I allow into my inner circle.

As a result, here is how I effectively manage my day to day outer environment.

Along my path to becoming an Elegant Woman here’s what I have uncovered about how to view and shape my more challenging outer environments:

:: There will always be negative people in the world, those who don’t believe like me, who don’t support me, who don’t call out my best self. Sure, I can try to get rid of those people, but they (or someone just like them) will eventually show up again. This is my experience (and the experience of all my clients).

:: You will continue to be triggered until you deal with that thing that keeps popping up. But, as Byron Katie says, “No one can trigger me. Only I can do that.”

As an alternative approach, instead of trying to rid people from my life, here is what I believe:

Everyone is my teacher.

All people walking this earthshine a light into my soul illuminating those areas that desire to be healed. < Tweet this >

PEEK INTO MY WORLD:  The Top 5 common challenging scenarios in my life, and how I handle them like a Bon Vivant…(and how you can, too)

So, instead of avoiding these people, I challenge you to ask yourself to consider these questions:

  • What if I could become the kind of woman who was able to be around anyone?
  • What if I could be happy, loving, powerful, compassionate, and intentional even when I am around the most negative of energies?
  • What if I could love big and guard my heart?
  • Wouldn’t that be the ultimate freedom?

As you ponder these questions, I’d like to share with you 5 lessons from my own life that have deeply supported my ability to handle negative energy.

1. What to do When Your Parents Don’t Approve

My mom and dad are two of the most loving and humble human beings. But, they don’t live the bon vivant lifestyle. Due to their religious beliefs, they don’t drink. My mom is a beautiful woman but she doesn’t wear designer clothes (and she thinks it’s a waste). Their favorite activity each week is not Sunday brunch with Bloody Mary’s, but going to church.

When I first started living differently, I judged them as much as they maybe were judging me.

They are so narrow-minded.
Why don’t they get it?
Why can’t they be different, more like me?

Fortunately, I didn’t cut my parents off. Sure, we had some tense conversations, I acted holier than thou on occasions and was a little brat at times. But, as I deepened my relationship with myself and focused on being my own best friend, I noticed something fascinating: I began to appreciate my parents just as they are. I didn’t need them to change in order for me to feel good.  And, I also began to deeply appreciate those things that I once judged.

When I stopped trying to change them and focused on changing me, we have grown into the most beautiful relationship — one where everyone can be themselves and deeply love each other.

My Elegant School of Self-image Approach:

Instead of wanting my parents to be different, I began to focus on all of their wonderful qualities — their kindness, support, loving hearts, and even their dedication to their faith.

As I stopped resisting their behaviors but embraced them, I felt more joy and peace in their presence. And, they didn’t have to change. I did.

The beauty of this approach is that it’s within your control. You don’t need others to be different in order for you to feel amazing.

I’ve seen women cut off people who deeply love them but just don’t agree with them. And, while at first, it feels empowering, it can become a huge regret.

2. What to Do When Your Work Environment is Toxic

When I worked as a critical care nurse, I was pounded daily with negative energy — from dying patients to narcissistic physicians to burnt out and complaining nurses.

Sure, I could have just turned in my resignation and cut myself off from the pain of families suffering or from the shouting doctor who had no problem throwing a patient chart at my head.

But, I didn’t know what was next, and I really like paying my bills, so leaving nursing was not an option I wanted to consider at the time.

My Elegant School of Self-image Approach:

For families and patients: I practiced a loving meditation that went something like this:

I breathe in your pain, hurt, and fear, and I breathe out love, compassion, and support.

For complaining co-workers: I listened and just noticed their energy. I also chose to lunch on my own, reading books and listening to music. I honored what I needed. They could still complain, but I didn’t have to join in on the party.

For the abusive doctors: I spoke my truth. “If you ever throw another chart towards me, I will immediately contact the administration.” A woman should never tolerate abuse of any kind! And, by speaking my truth out of love for me, it never happened again.  In fact, they respected me more.

3. When You Don’t Like Where You Live

We were open to relocating for a business opportunity. And then, it happened.

But it looked dramatically different than I was assuming it would. When I moved from a beach suburb in the Southeast to my small mountain town in the Rockies with more health food stores and “practical” clothing retailers than I had ever seen in my life, I’ll tell you that it was the last place on earth I thought I’d end up. New York City or Paris seemed to be a better fit. As long as it somewhere chic and full of culture. Instead, I found myself in a town filled with Patagonia and nature-loving people.

I’ll admit that upon arrival, I resisted. I didn’t go out much. I daydreamed of faraway places. I created this story in my head that went something like this: One day, you’ll get out of this place and be around like-minded people.

The result: frustration.

And, I see this frustration in many women I work with. They believe that if they could just move, they would find friends who were more like them.

This is dangerous because it requires that you put off living fully until someday.  I began to ask myself:  why would you ever put off living your life?

My Elegant School of Self-image Approach:

Sure, I could have packed up and moved, but I decided to bloom where I was planted.
I embodied the woman I desired to be right where I was. When I did this, I began to attract women who enjoyed the same things I did: great food and wine, fashion, travel, tantalizing conversation and the finer things in life.
I would have never discovered these fabulous women had I sat around complaining about where I was.

You don’t have to move to have a beautiful life.

And, if you do move, I always suggest that you do it from a place of love and excitement, not running from something (because what you’re probably running from is yourself).

4. What to Do When When Your Partner Isn’t Supportive

We all want our partners to encourage us, to see the world through our eyes and to be our biggest fan. I’m also the biggest romantic in the world, always seeking some idealized version of love.

However, experience and wisdom have taught me this:

You will never find a partner that is perfect 24-7 or 100% supportive all of the time.

So the more you can love and support yourself, the better your relationships will be.

Recently, I made a decision to fly to Paris on a Business class ticket (instead of coach).

I did this because I knew that I would be hosting The Dinner Society – Paris  and spending 5 glorious days a group of absolutely amazing VIP women later that week to inspire them cultivate their Parisian State of Mind.  I want to arrive relaxed, refreshed and ready to show up fully.

Plus, I choose to live luxuriously (and this splurge was worth it to me).

Then I told my guy.

His response was, “Don’t you think that’s wasteful?”

To him, maybe!  To me?  Not at all.

Sure, I could just cut him out of my life because he doesn’t support my desire to fly business class or we don’t see money the same way.  But he supports me in so many other ways, so it would be a huge regret.

So, what does a woman do?

My Elegant School of Self-image Approach:

I told him, “I really appreciate your opinion, but I’m flying business class.” End of story.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

The More I Love My Decisions, the Less I Need Others To (Tweet it)

Sure, it would be nice if he thought everything I wanted or believed was the holy grail, but he is just as entitled to his opinion as I am.

And, at the end of the day, I get to decide what’s best for me and make my own decisions.

(Note: he later apologized.)

5. What To Do When Your Children are Negative

In a perfect world, our children would always think we’re right, be in the best of moods and never make a mistake.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and it’s not our children’s job to make us happy. They have enough issues that they are trying to work out.

Our children are learning to be adults and it’s their job to challenge what we think.

Our children are also a beautiful invitation to deepen our beliefs, to practice love and compassion and to stay in our own business.

Being the mom to a 17-year-old, the energy in our home ranges from absolute rage to ecstasy, and I never know what I’m going to encounter when I walk through the door.

Of course, I’m not just going to get rid of my daughter. And, yet I desire to feel peace and calm in my home.

So, what does a mom do?

My Elegant School of Self-image Approach:

It’s not my daughter’s role to make me happy. That is my job. And, it’s a choice. If I take everything my daughter does as an invitation to beat myself up, to see myself as an inadequate parent or a sign that I have screwed up her life, I would be miserable.

However, I choose to see my daughter as perfect, just the way she is, however she is showing up.

I can love her, discipline her, and guide her without the drama.

I can state clearly my expectations and consequences.

I can allow her to be moody and, simultaneously, I can be full of joy.

And, as a result, what I’ve discovered is that the more intentional I am about creating my life, the better our relationship has become.

Now, it is YOUR Turn:

Remember, Bon Vivant:

  • There will always be negative energy in the world — people who don’t believe the way you do, are hurting, are angry or are going through a really tough time.
  • You can try to avoid it OR you can become the kind of lady who allows others to have their opinion, be dramatic and even rude and still holds her own (however that looks for you).

Before you start ridding people from your life or making drastic external changes, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s the real problem here?

2. How can I bloom where I’m planted?

3. What’s being triggered (and is removing a person from my life the real answer?)

4. How can I love and guard my heart?

5. Who really needs to change?

I can’t wait to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Au Revoir!


3 Days of Extraordinary

Extraordinary Women Do Extraordinary Things ...