Listen to the Full Episode:

So many women come to my program wanting something different for their lives. But here’s the thing: you don’t get what you want. You get what you tolerate. And a lot of you are tolerating things that keep perpetuating the things that you don’t want. But there’s an easy solution to this: having a red velvet rope policy.

How to put a red velvet rope around your life.

You need to decide what you want to allow in your life. Just like a successful company has rules and standard operating procedures, so should your life. It’s up to you to set the standard for your world, and we’re discussing how to do that on this episode.

Tune in this week to discover how to put a red velvet rope around your life. I’m sharing how to start this work by setting boundaries and expectations with yourself, and what will change when you start being more discerning about what and who is allowed in your personal VIP room.

If you want to dive even deeper into this work, the doors to the School of Self-Image will be open for just a few more days. Click here for more information and I can’t wait to see your beautiful face inside! 

Have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Click here to get your copy and learn how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why having boundaries is such an important part of improving your self-image.
  • What having a red velvet rope policy for your own life might look like.
  • How to see the places in your life where you really need to start enforcing specific boundaries.
  • What my own life looked like before and after enforcing a strict red velvet rope policy for myself.
  • Why setting proper boundaries always starts with our behavior toward ourselves.
  • How to deal with the discomfort that will inevitably come up when you stop tolerating the things that aren’t serving you.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript:

Every woman needs a red velvet rope around her life, a distinction of what’s allowed and what is not. And in this episode, I’m going to tell you why and how you can start to create one for your life. So, let’s dive in.

Welcome to the School of Self-Image, where personal development meets style. Here’s your hostess, master life coach Tonya Leigh.

Ola, my friends. I am recording this podcast from Columbia. It’s crazy. Columbia is not a place that I ever really thought about coming to, unfortunately. Like, why have I waited so long? But my boyfriend came here back in February and stayed for six weeks. His brother lives here. And he just raved about how beautiful this country is.

He spent time in Barranquilla and then he came to Cartagena and he was like, “You have to go.” And so, I am here with a group of girlfriends, and what a pleasant surprise. We started out in Medellin and spent like three or four nights there, I can’t remember. And then we did a daytrip to Guatapé, which as we were flying over – we took a helicopter to this, I guess you would say a lake. It’s like a beautiful body of water with all of these little fingers and islands.

And as I was flying over and just looking at the topography, I realized that there are so many beautiful places in the world that I probably don’t even know about, have never been on my radar. And I’m determined to find these places.

So, I know a lot of you travel. A lot of you have seen way more of the world than I have. If you have any of those places that you’re like, “I think Tonya would love but she probably doesn’t even know it exists,” you have to tell me. We don’t hold secrets from each other like this.

But right now, I’m in Cartagena. I’m staying at the Sofitel, which is beautiful. And I will tell you, one of the things that I have enjoyed the most about Columbia are the people. They are so full of gratitude and graciousness. The level of service here is unbelievable. And it’s inexpensive, which is great. The shopping’s good. The food, come on, the food is so good.

I could go on and on, but this isn’t actually an episode about Columbia. But I just had to put it out there, in case any of you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. Beautiful.

Okay, so let’s just transition to today’s episode. I’ll bring my excitement down a little bit. Or maybe not. I’m losing my voice actually and I realize it’s because I’ve just been talking nonstop and laughing so hard. But I feel great. There’s something about this weather and the humidity. I just feel really good. But I do sound like I’ve been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Which I promise you all, I haven’t. I don’t smoke. But we’re going to do this. I can do it.

So, I want to talk about a red velvet rope policy. I realize that I’ve written about this on the blog many years ago and I’ve mentioned it in previous episodes. And it’s a term my clients know really well because I teach it, but I’ve never dedicated an entire episode to a red velvet rope policy, what it is, why it’s important, and how you can start to have one in your life.

So, the way you can think about it is that we all get to put up a red velvet rope around ourselves. And if any of you have ever been to a movie premier or even a club or a fancy hotel, maybe you’ve seen the red velvet rope. And that red velvet rope is a distinction of a boundary, a line of who is allowed in and who is not.

When I teach about the red velvet rope policy, there are two things I want you to think about. Because a lot of times, we want to put up boundaries with other people, but when we look at our own behavior towards ourselves, we’re way worse to ourselves than other people. And so, when I’m teaching about the red velvet rope policy, I always say, “Listen, it starts with you, how you treat yourself, what you expect of yourself, the words you use towards yourself, and even showing up for yourself.”

Do you follow through on the promises that you make to yourself? So, for example, when you say, “I’m going to work out today,” do you follow through on that? Or does that behavior get beyond your red velvet rope? Are you constantly disappointing yourself? A lot of us don’t even have a rope.

I didn’t for many years. I would just allow myself to trat certain ways. I would allow other people to treat me a certain way. But what I have found out is that when you start to expect more of yourself, when you stop tolerating your own BS, when you have a red velvet rope up, which protects you from your own self.

It’s like the higher version of you, the higher level of you is like, “No, this is not allowed in our world, sister.” We don’t do that to ourselves. When you start to do that, automatically it’s so much easier for you to have that distinction, that boundary with other people.

So, when I’m teaching this, I always say, “Let’s start with you. I want you to start being kind to yourself. I want you to start doing what you say you’re going to do and following through. Because listen, I’ve done this. But sometimes I’ll be coaching a client and they’ll say things like, “My friend just doesn’t show up on time or she’s constantly letting me down.”

And I’m like, “How often do you do that to yourself?” Because when you stop tolerating that from yourself, you won’t tolerate it from other people. Because the work you have to do to not do that to yourself is so deep and so good that it will automatically translate into your relationships.

And so, the red velvet rope is your set of standards of what you allow into your life. And it should always start with you.

Here’s the thing, you all. You don’t get what you want. You get what you tolerate. And a lot of you are tolerating things that keep perpetuating the things that you don’t want. For example, you may tolerate yourself overeating. You may tolerate yourself not going to work out. You may tolerate yourself overspending. You may tolerate yourself procrastinating and not showing up for the things that you deeply, deeply want.

And so, as your level of tolerance increases for those things, you end up just perpetuating the behaviors that don’t’ serve you. And so, having that set of standards of like, “I am a woman who…”

In fact, one of the classes that I teach within the School of Self-Image – for those of you who are members, I taught it last year. Just ask us and we’ll tell you where to look for it. But it’s all about having personal standards that elevate your life, that elevate how you see yourself, that elevate your outcomes. And living into them. And being willing to feel the discomfort of change and truly shifting your identity, because that was what happens.

A lot of us are so used to tolerating BS, we’re so used to tolerating other people’s behaviors that we’ve become doormats in our own lives. I have been there. I get it. And the courage it takes to be like, “Enough is enough, no more, you’re not allowed to talk to me like that,” and sometimes, we have to say that to ourselves.

And then we can start saying it to other people. Like no, I don’t tolerate this kind of behavior in my life. This is not allowed beyond my red velvet rope. The work that you have to do to get there is so uncomfortable because we risk people not liking us, we risk losing people that we love.

But if we don’t do it, we just keep allowing this behavior that secretly causes us to resent ourselves and to resent other people, which is why every single one of us needs a red velvet rope. We need to have a list of standards of what is allowed in our lives.

I even think about my company. I have a list of standards. We don’t do this, we do this. Standard operating procedures. This is allowed, this isn’t. And it just informs the whole team, myself included, of what is allowed.

And if people cannot abide by these standards, then they’re not a good fit for my company, and the same goes in our lives. So as you begin to, number one, step into your own personal standards in terms of how you treat yourself, what you expect of yourself, you’ll get better at instilling those boundaries with other people.

So let’s talk about that. Once you put up your red velvet rope, you’re basically saying, hey listen, this is what is allowed in my life. I don’t tolerate people smoking in my house, I don’t tolerate people cursing at me, I don’t tolerate people who are perpetually late.

Now, what you have to be okay with is people saying, “Hey, well, then we’re not a good fit.” And that’s when it gets super uncomfortable, right? Because we’re like, no, I want you to change, I want you to do what I want you to do so that you can come beyond my rope, but that’s not the point of the rope.

The point of the rope is to simply say this is what’s allowed and then give people free will for them to decide if they want to abide by your rules so that they can get beyond your rope.

A good example of this is I just moved into my new place. And I decided that I want to have a rule that you don’t wear shoes in my house. In the past, I think because we’re in Colorado, people’s feet get cold, I’ve just sort of let that slide. But deep down, for a long time, I’ve wanted it to be where my house is a shoe-less house.

I want to not be tracking in stuff from outside on city streets into my place. So I’ve had to experience the discomfort of when people walk in the door saying, “Hey listen, no shoes allowed in here.”

At that moment, that’s a rope. I’ve put up my rope and I said okay, in order to enter, you need to remove your shoes. Now, what I risk is someone being upset. What I risk is someone saying, well, I don't want to take off my shoes. What I risk is maybe losing a friend because they don’t like that rule.

But it’s important to me. And so I have to be willing to risk that and trust that the right people will be okay with taking off their shoes. They’ll be like, “Sure, no problem.” And that the wrong people will be like no, and they’ll leave.

But it’s not me making people take off their shoes. It is a decision that they get to make when they come to my front door. They get to decide, do I want to stay? If I do, then this is the standard around here. We remove our shoes. And if that’s not okay, they get to leave.

So I’m not trying to control their behavior. I’m simply stating what is allowed into my world. So when it comes to creating a red velvet rope policy, I always recommend that you start with you.

And look at the areas of your life where you’re really struggling. And look at what are you tolerating that is creating the struggle. And start to institute a couple of policies that you’re going to live into and expect them to be uncomfortable because they will because you’re changing behavior.

And you’re also changing your identity, which is awful. It feels terrible, even though on the other side of it is so much freedom and everything you want is on the other side of that identity change and that discomfort. But you have to be willing to feel the discomfort of it.

And then you can start to look at the different areas of your life that maybe you want to elevate, that you want to create results in. And it’s going to require that you have a red velvet rope policy. Maybe it’s around money, maybe it’s around your business, maybe it’s around relationships, maybe it’s around your health and wellness.

But where are you being called to stop tolerating? Because that’s the purpose of the red velvet rope. The red velvet rope is a symbol of listen, I’m no longer tolerating this in my life. In order to get into my VIP section because y’all are all VIPs, right? In order to get into that section, you’re going to have to get beyond this red velvet rope, and here’s what’s required.

I’ve personally been doing a lot of this work around people pleasing. And what I have discovered is that it’s me expanding my ability to feel discomfort. Because in the past, I would just people please, so everybody could come beyond my red velvet rope. I don’t want anyone to be upset.

And so I wasn’t being honest. It was like I was lying to myself all of the time and lying to other people. Pretending, just so that they would like me so I would not upset them. And over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing a lot of work around this. I don’t want to people please. I want to be an honest person.

And now listen, people-pleasers, we have the best intentions, right? We have big hearts, we don’t want anyone to be offended, we don’t want anyone to be upset, but the problem is we are not showing up as the fullest and truest and most authentic versions of ourselves.

And so for me, I decided, one of my red velvet rope policies is I want to be honest. I don't want to lie and tell people that I want to do something. I don’t want to lie and try to control other people’s emotions and do things I don’t really want to do just to placate them and make them happy.

So in order to get beyond my own red velvet rope, and to feel good about myself, to be able to sit in the house of me, and feel safe and good and aligned, one of my standards is I don’t people please. I tell the truth. I’m honest.

And then I have to be willing to feel the discomfort of all that, realizing some people may be upset, some people may walk out of my life. But I get to sit in the house of me and feel good, knowing I have my rope up, this is what’s allowed, Tonya, this is who you’ve chosen to be, this is who you are becoming.

And so I want you to really think about this in your life. What have you been allowing beyond your red velvet rope? Maybe you’re like I was. You’re like, I don’t even have a rope, people just walk in, I do whatever I want to do, it’s a chaotic mess.

But what I can tell you one standard at a time of elevating in your life and living into it and being clear about what’s allowed into your life will change your life. It’s a process. As I told you, I’m still going through it. I’m always looking at where am I tolerating things.

And I know I just need to raise that rope up and be like, no, no more. And the funny thing is usually it’s me tolerating behaviors within myself. It’s usually not even other people. But the more you tolerate your own BS, most likely the more you’re tolerating everyone else’s, which is why this work always, always begins and ends with you.

So start there. Just look at yourself and be like, what am I tolerating? How am I treating myself? Where am I disappointing myself over and over again? And then we need to get you a red velvet rope. You need to decide, what are you no longer willing to tolerate in your life?

And you can do this with so much love, you can do it with so much compassion. But sometimes love is tough. Sometimes love is not tolerating. Why? Because you want the best for you.

So where in your life do you need a red velvet rope? Put it up and practice living into it. Have a beautiful week, everyone. Sending you so much love and I can’t wait to see you next week. Cheers.

Hey, have you grabbed your free copy of the School of Self-Image Manifesto? If not, what in the world? Head over to and get a copy that teaches you how to think and show up in the areas of mindset, style, and surroundings so that you can transform your self-image.

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