Hey Strong Girls! I am so excited to share with you everything I’ve been up to this last month, as well as today’s Daily Inspo! It’s been an absolute honor being able to work with so many college women across the country through my Strong Girl Workshops and Workouts and helping women learn and apply specific steps to be Strong, Confident and Happy—in mind and body!

I will be posting recaps and pictures of all the schools and sororities I visited here! I am truly grateful to be able to share The Strong Movement and am humbled by how many women believe in it and have joined the community! It’s my mission to help women rise and thrive and live each day with intention and purpose to achieve their goals and dreams. And, I have to pinch myself that I can get up every morning and do this!

As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on being grateful and giving thanks in November and during the holiday season. But, gratefulness and appreciation are things we should practice and express on a consistent basis—aka all the time and not just two months out of the year! There are numerous studies that show that by expressing gratitude and appreciation, we can increase our happiness and well-being, not just momentarily, but in the long run.

Given the season, as well as the recent political and social events in the US, a lot of attention has also been placed on being kind to one another, especially those that share different views, opinions, and beliefs. Whether you think that society has a long way to go when it comes to this or you see acts of kindness and pass it along every day, there’s one area on the kindness and compassion spectrum that often gets overlooked.

Working with college women, I see first-hand the negative effects of personal limiting beliefs and self-criticism that keep women from “going for it,” whatever “it” may be. This inner mean girl keeps many women playing small and living in fear—ultimately, not living to one’s full potential. I think we’ve all had our own bouts of harsh, critical thoughts. Self-Compassion and Self-Care are two areas that completely go out the window as we get older and as the Self-Critic or Mean Girl sets in (if we let her to!). But, the reality is, most of us never had a class in school that taught us how to be kind to ourselves and how important it is to take care of not just our bodies, but also our minds.

One of my goals for the women that participate in the Strong Girl Workshops is for them to understand that regardless of life’s circumstances, political events and what’s happening in society or what the media chooses to focus on, we all have 100% complete control over our own lives. And, it all starts with getting in touch with and becoming aware of our minds and what’s going on in our heads—actually taking the time to be mindful and process our thoughts. We dive extensively on how to protect our minds in the workshop and how to shift from being on auto-pilot to having control in the driver’s seat.

The minute you learn how to be kind to yourself and to treat yourself with respect and love, you will unleash a power within you, breakthrough your fears and really rise and thrive. You’ll realize that the only person that can hold you back on your journey is you. We have much more power than we think and we have the ability to train and reprogram our minds, so that we can be Strong, Confident and Happy and achieve our dreams. To do this, we have to get rid of weeds and plant new seeds. An entire book can be written on this subject and we can spend hours and even days working on this in a workshop, in addition to daily practice (think mind gym). But, identifying limiting beliefs and self-criticism on a birds-eye level is important not just to eliminate them, but to also empower yourself and become more compassionate towards yourself.

The first step is getting real with all that negative self-talk and self-criticism going on inside our heads. You would never allow someone with such bad vibes (aka a mean girl) into your home, let alone live with you. But yet, we allow these negative, harsh thoughts to plant themselves in our minds and hold us back. These negative limiting beliefs may start out as a fleeting negative thought, but overtime can become bigger and bigger as we ruminate in them more. The crazy thing is that we would never be okay with someone else saying these “negative things” about us.

I totally understand we are our own harshest critics. But, there is a difference between challenging yourself to be better and putting yourself down. It’s important to take a step back and realize that a coach, mentor, friend and/or family member that’s got your back would never talk to you like the way you may be talking to yourself, nor would you like it if they did. And, that’s where compassion comes into play. Being compassionate means that you are understanding, empathetic and encouraging. When was the last time you actually practiced that on yourself?

So, to start tackling these negative thoughts that you may have allowed to control your life, infect your mind like a virus or hold you back, you need to get real about them, identify them and acknowledge that they do exist. You also need to identify what prompts or triggers them and be aware when they do pop up. This is important because then you can get to the root of them. This requires a certain level of awareness and mindfulness that takes practice.

Are they based in real fact with evidence that you can substantiate and support them with? Or, are they self-fulfilling prophesies and excuses that you have come to believe over time from dwelling on them and bullying yourself with? More often than not, you’ll find that these critical thoughts have no merit and aren’t backed up by fact or truth. If they are backed by hard facts or legitimate relevant examples, then it’d be fairly easy to find solutions and take action to turn them around. Obviously, facing them head on also requires a level of honesty with yourself—or, as I like to say—you gotta get real, honest and kind.

Doing poorly on a test or on a series of tests does not make you stupid or dumb. Perhaps you just need to study more to perform better and receive a better grade that represents how well you know the material and not how competent or intelligent you are. There’s a difference.

The next step is turning these negative limiting beliefs around and programming new empowering, positive beliefs with real references, strengths and experiences to back them up. Think about what type of a pep talk a coach or friend may give you. You certainly wouldn’t call on a mean girl when you’re feeling down, would you? No way! You’d call a nurturing, supportive friend, coach or relative to listen and help you. As you begin to pay attention to your thoughts, criticisms and, perhaps, mean girl that takes up space in your mind, take a step back and think about how you would support and talk to a friend if they came to you and voiced their own self-criticisms that may sound similar. You’d be kind, sympathetic and supportive. And, that’s exactly how you need to start treating yourself—just like you would with someone you love and care about.

During this holiday season, I encourage you to become more aware of your thoughts. And, in this season of giving and spreading love, focus on being kinder to and compassionate not just with others but also with yourself. I know it’s easy to say “don’t be so hard of yourself,” but really, the next time you’re experiencing doubt or find your inner mean girl taking over, I challenge you and give you permission to love and respect yourself more! Focus on progress, not perfection. And when you do, you’ll start to grow, realize and actualize your potential and continue to build that beautiful Strong Mind of yours!

Love + Sweat,