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The Two Words That Saved My Dad's Life

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Today I want to tell you about two words that I would honestly say have changed the course of my life and most recently created a miracle in my father’s health.  And these two little words are “I AM”.

So first, let me tell you a story. When I was 19 and a sophomore at Syracuse University, I was really struggling emotionally and I couldn’t figure out why. I had friends, my grades were pretty good, I had a boyfriend. Nothing was really wrong.

But looking back, I know that my daily mind chatter focused on either what wasn’t good enough with me or some part of my life. I didn’t see it at the time because I didn’t know anything about managing my mind.

My mind was on autopilot and I was just like a sheep, blindly following my mind wherever it went.

I compared myself to other women.

I worried about how my future would go.

I focused on what I thought other people thought of me.

I struggled with confidence and body issues.

I was always looking to get more confidence, which felt very illusive at the time. My thoughts went something like, “I wish I had more confidence” or “Why does she have so many friends? What’s wrong with me?” or “I am going to fail this exam!”

And looking back, I was walking around feeling anxious most of the time and not really enjoying my life the way that I really wanted to.  So, in June of 1990, I enrolled in a 6-day retreat to figure out how to change how I was feeling.

For one of the days of the retreat, we had to zipline off of a cliff. I had a major fear of heights so this was a really big deal for me. I remember waiting on line and then getting on my safety gear and my whole body was shaking.

And I remember when it was my turn, climbing up the later and saying to myself, “I can’t do this.” So the platform that you had to step off of was the size of a dinner plate. And you had to hold onto this bar and then just step off into nothingness and zip across a lake to the other side.

So I got on the dinner plate and I completely froze. I told the guy, “I can’t do this. Please take me out of the harness.” And then I started crying and shaking and snot pouring out of my nose.

And he looked at me and said, “Make sure you keep your knees up when you step off.” Now, I knew intellectually that my safety harness would keep me safe but it didn’t stop my feet from remaining on that dinner plate for almost a half hour. 

And then all of a sudden, I had this thought that seemed to come out of no where. And I said to myself, “Who gives a shit if you’re afraid? I AM a confident and courageous woman who doesn’t let fear stop me.” And with that I stepped off. 

That moment was a profound experience for me. It was in that moment that I figured out how the rest of my life was going to go.  By saying the two words, “I AM”, I made the choice to no longer allow my usual thoughts of “what if this goes wrong” or “why can’t I have what she has” or “what do those people think of me?” to control me. Instead, I chose to define how my life will go by envisioning that I already AM who I want to be.

Up until this point, I focused on trying to control my world and everyone in it so that I could feel confident and happy. And this one shift began my journey of deciding ahead of time who I AM.

I created my self confidence with my mind. Not by my circumstances.

Most people think that self confidence comes from our outer world.  People think that their good emotions are connected to whether something in life goes the way we want it to. When we weigh the right amount or stop being so anxious or get rid of the depression or make the right amount of money or have the success that we’re striving for.

My life changed when I was willing to be afraid but to take actions that were aligned with the life that I wanted to create and have the willingness to be with whatever the outcome was going to be when I took those actions.

I came home from that retreat, and started practicing things like starting conversations with students that I didn’t know (which is something I wouldn’t have done before). I joined a lacrosse club even though I sucked at lacrosse. I was willing to feel the emotions of embarrassment, judgment, failure, inadequacy, insecurity, judgment, humiliation.

I started acting as though I was already the confident person I wanted to be and I took all of my fear and doubt along with me rather than trying to make it go away before I would take risks. Before this realization, I had been trying to avoid feeling any of those uncomfortable emotions. 

And since that realization, my life has not been the same.  I became someone who has lived a life as a courageous, confident person who goes after the life I want 100%.

But here’s the thing--I have had to get used to being uncomfortable with every step I take. Because my big goals and dreams have only come from my willingness to risk the discomfort of all of those emotions that for many years I was too scared to feel. 

And throughout my life, I can look back on many times where I felt like I had failed or felt defeated or judged or criticized or not good enough. But I have never let those uncomfortable emotions stop me. And that is the only reason why I have the business, the relationships, the family and friends that I have today.  Because two words that define my life: I AM. This is where the seed of Dethroning Your Inner Critic was first planted. 

And now, 30 years and thousands of clients later, my life is dedicated to supporting myself, my family, my friends and my clients in designing anything they want in their personal or professional lives using their vision of the future they are creating rather than their automatic habits of thinking that have kept them stuck. 

So I want to tell you how these two words recently literally saved my dad’s life. My dad has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2015. It was caught early so he had a Whipple procedure in 2015. In 2016, my parents moved from their life of 46 years in Larchmont, NY, to Sarasota, Florida.

Soon after they began their new life, during a routine checkup the doctors discovered two new lesions on his pancreas.  I taught my dad to the idea of using visualization to imagine his life ahead of time. And my dad, who is now 75, decided that even though his cancer had returned that his life was going to be filled with joy, fun and peace. 

Every morning he meditated on this and in his mind, said “I AM living a healthy, vibrant life filled with love and connection.” And my parents have seriously not stopped. They have made all new friends and actually have a busier social life than I do! 

But here is the best part: This past week, we got the results of his last CAT scan. Here is the text that I received from my mom: “Miracle city! CAT scan showed NO evidence of metastatic cancer at all. That means BOTH LESIONS have disappeared!!!!"

So my mom started crying and she turned to my dad and she said, “Larry, can you believe it?” My dad in his stoic way said, "Yes I can. I’ve been envisioning that the lesions are shrinking and that I am living a healthy and vibrant life.”

Now this is seriously the craziest thing I have ever personally experienced in my own life. They can’t find these lesions!!! He is still going to stick to his chemo regimen but this illustrates the power of our thoughts and beliefs more than anything I have ever experienced. 

Changing your life begins with aligning your thoughts, feelings and actions with a vision of your future. But you have to be willing to experience the fear, frustration, anger that goes along with this.

Because living this life is NOT comfortable. Personally, I think it’s more uncomfortable to let your old mind talk you out of having the life you want.

And here’s the thing guys: You can become almost addicted to the old thoughts, feelings and actions because it has become a part of your identity. 

You have to be willing to actually become someone else. You need to visualize it ahead of time and actually drum up the emotions ahead of time.

What does it feel like to see yourself living the life of a confident person? 

What does it feel like to already have that successful career?

What does it feel like to be a healthy person? 

You know, when I was a teenager I struggled with my weight. And I had a grandmother who at 80 was swimming laps every day and playing doubles tennis. At the age of around 15, I decided that I wanted to be like my grandmother. I wanted to be someone who was able to do what she did at 80. And that is who I became. 

I have never struggled with weight again because who I AM is someone who takes care of my body. I don’t need to have willpower or strength. I take care of my body because of the way it makes me feel to have a healthy body. 

So if I’m starving, I won’t go for the donut in front of me because a donut doesn’t occur as a choice. It just isn’t an option because who I AM is someone who has a healthy body. And if I do eat something like a good dessert, which I love, it is because I’m making a conscious decision to choose that food because I am treating myself.  So when I had Insomnia Cookies this weekend that was actually a choice to honor my body as well because I LOVE Insomnia Cookies. But even if I am having cookies, I am STILL someone who takes care of my body. 

See, the fear of changing your life is really uncomfortable because you have to risk all of those uncomfortable emotions. But the fear of feeling the uncomfortable emotions is worse than actually experiencing the uncomfortable emotions. 

And that’s what I decided on that dinner plate. I would rather actually feel afraid on purpose because I AM a confident and courageous woman and I don’t let fear stop me.

For those of you who are standing on the dinner plate and you are afraid to step off because you don’t want to feel the discomfort, I don’t want you to wait until you hit the wall or until you can’t stand your life anymore because you have run away from discomfort for so long.

I want you to be your own best support. To trust yourself enough to be willing to fail, or feel embarrassed, or get rejected, and to know that you can handle the emotion that goes with that.

Because the only thing that the uncomfortable emotion brings on is a feeling. That’s it. And you can feel it and get right back up and keep taking the actions that support the life you are creating.

You have to learn to train your mind to be stronger than your old thoughts, feelings and emotions or else you’ll lose yourself every time!

My suggestion for you this week is to write down an I AM statement. Just pick one from your life. Write it down and post it to your bathroom mirror, your closet door, your desk at work, your dash board of your car.

Visit this statement every day. Visualize what it feels like to already be that. And as always, if you want support with this, feel free to reach out and book a clarity call with me. I would love to support you in living the best life you have ever had! 

Is Your Inner Critic Keeping You From Success?

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