Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Three cheers for the TV show, How to Look Good Naked with Carson Kressley on the Lifetime Network! Carson is illustrating what I’ve been saying in my books for years—whe you change your self-perception, you can become more beautiful and improve your body image.

I joke that my body got MUCH better as I left DoorMatville—without losing a pound! ?

When I was a DoorMat I hated myself for not being perfectly thin. Since we often go to extremes, anything that wasn’t thin was fat. I was tall for my age when I was young, and that translated into feeling fat. When I look back on photos of me during those years, I’m amazed at how slender I was. But, it set a tone for me to always feel like I wasn’t good enough. No matter what other nice things there were about me, I never noticed, because I had cellulite blindness—my fat perception was all I saw in the mirror.

When you feel like you aren’t good enough, you can become a People Pleaser to make up for it like I did. That’s how DoorMats develop.

I believe that body image is the top catalyst—by far—for insecurity in women and it also makes men self-conscious too. So now there’s this new show—How to Look Good Naked On the first episode that aired on Friday night, Carson gave Layla, a woman who has always felt fat and tried many diets, a body perception makeover. It began with her assessment of herself. I cried along with her because I remember how awful I used to feel when I looked at mine.

Carson helped Layla to find proper fitting undergarments to make her body look better with clothes on and also better styles. He also showed her a video with 3 women walking in different styles and outfits. He asked Layla to assess which one weighed the most and which was the sexiest. She had definite picks but SURPRISE! The were all the same woman in different styles. He showed how what you wear and how you carry yourself makes a big difference in your appearance.

Feeling fat makes us try to cover up, wear big clothing in hopes that people won’t see the fat so much. But Carson showed it actually makes your body look worse! I remember the days of covering up, not caring what I wore, since I assumed nothing would look good on me. Layla learned how untrue that is!

By the end of the show, Layla was getting into the groove and feeling good about her body. All her new inner and outer garments helped to change her body image. She said she now felt attractive! The time came for the title of the show to pan out—looking good naked. Layla posed for a photo, sans clothes. The verdict? She looked lovely according to all the people who viewed her in all her naked glory. I agreed! Once Carson knocked all the distorted perceptions from her self-image, she was able to appreciate herself.

Perception. Your perception decides if your glass is half empty or half full; if you’re a failure or you just made a mistake; if you’re fat or just not thin. That’s why I advocate working more on being loving to yourself. The more YOU love YOU, the more you’ll be open to having a more positive perception of how your body looks. The DoorMat me labeled herself as fat and didn’t see her good qualities. It took me years and someone pulling me in front of a mirror to recognize that I have beautiful green eyes.

I greatly related to what Layla went through with Carson. I remember my awakening to see myself as the beautiful, sexy hot woman I know I am. I’m still far from size 6. But it no longer matter. I love me and my body now. I think that watching this show will help a lot of people. Good for you Lifetime and Carson Kressley!

I’m going to make this Let’s Be Happily Naked week on my blog. This post is part one. Stayed tuned for more later this week!

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Albert at Urban Monk invited me to participate in a writing group project about compassion called Spread the Love NOW! created by The Three MonksAlbert at Urban Monk, Wade of The Middle Way, and Kenton of Zen-Inspired Self Development. I love to write about compassion! I’ve found it to be the lubricant for a happy life. Instead of my road being rough with anger and frustration, being compassionate makes the way smoother.

I used to be an angry girl. Whenever someone did me wrong—grrrrrrrr! I complained to anyone who’d listen about what people had done to me. The anger kept me fuming instead of smiling. I saw some people in my life as bad, which in turn, attracted more people to complain about. Then I read a book by the Dalai Lama. It blew me away because his philosophy about compassion made so much sense.

When I read the book I was feeling anger and frustration toward Mike (not his real name!), a guy I’d been dating. We were friends for months before we crossed the line to more than friends. He couldn’t do enough for me. But when he got the flu, with high fever, and I offered to bring him some food (he literally had NONE in his apartment), he fervently refused to let me. I argued that I wanted to help him out. He got angry. And angrier, and then accused me of being a typical nagging woman.

All because I tried to convince him to let me drop off something for him to eat so he could recover and not take Vitamin C on an empty stomach!

He yelled more and more as I reminded him how he insisted on bringing me food and keeping me company after I had oral surgery the week before. Now I wanted to support him. I even offered to leave the food outside his door if he didn’t want to see me. The more I tried to convince him, the more he accused me of fooling him into thinking I was different than many women. In his eyes I was now a nag. It was so irrational.

We talked a few days later. At first it was fine, but I wanted him to understand the difference between a nag and a concerned friend. When I commented that it was a shame he misread my desire to help him, he went off on me again. More irrational accusations about how terrible I was for trying to help him. Yelling. Anger. I knew that Mike’s background included an abusive mother, two bitter divorces and cutting himself off from his whole family. He’d been badly burned by his last girlfriend.

Since I write about relationships I’d been aware that his issues could ruin what we had together. But calling me a nag for being concerned about the health of someone I cared about still seemed ridiculous!

I was furious with Mike for judging me so harshly. I wasn’t nagging, and I tried hard to make him understand that. But he didn’t budge. I was furious about his accusations and meanness. Reading about the Dalai Lama’s philosophy of compassion opened me to a higher level of handling people who push my buttons. He emphasizes seeking peacefulness through compassion to those who hurt you by understanding that people who hurt others are suffering more. They do awful things because of pain they’ve experienced. And they hurt themselves each time they hurt others.

Wow! I already figured that Mike was being so illogical because he was scared of being hurt again. In his effort to do what seemed like self-protection, he hurt me. Past experiences gave him a bad attitude about women so when I didn’t just accept his negating my offer, it felt like the nagging he’d experienced many times from women who’d hurt him. He couldn’t make the distinction between women who’d tried to control him and one who cared. And, he’d never learned to receive.

After I finished the book, I decided to call Mike. I accepted that he’d never see my way and wanted to get closure it in a peaceful way, with the compassion I’d just learned about.

Mike seemed happy to hear from me. I knew he liked me a lot. Maybe he thought we could just ignore his outbursts and move on. But I knew he’d always be a time bomb, waiting to go off if I tried to return his caring. After chatting a bit, I again said I felt bad that he attributed nasty motives to my offer, since there were none. He immediately began to rage. This time I didn’t defend myself or try to convince him. I just gently repeated over and over,

“I know that you’re hurting and can’t help responding like this. I have compassion for your pain.”

Mike didn’t touch that statement. He calmed down a little. I explained that I felt very sorry that he had so much pain from others and needed to inflict it on me. Like a roller coaster he went up and down with other accusations and mean spirited comments, then calmed as I repeated my words, softly. I rode along with my seat belt fastened. He seemed to get spurts of rage about my remaining calm. Mike tried to create drama and I wouldn’t let him. Yet he never—not once—attacked or challenged my compassionate words.

For the first time I was in complete control of anger! He blustered as I smiled and felt incredibly peaceful afterwards, with no anger left.

The compassion I felt made me feel calm. The more he went on irrationally, the more compassion I felt. I barely said anything else but those words. When we hung up, I knew that was it for us. Compassion had taught me acceptance of a sad situation—for how Mike kept hurting himself. I was the best person in his life and he lost me since I couldn’t continue to be close to someone like that. So he suffered more! The next day, I emailed to wish him good luck and expressed my compassion in writing. No reply. I felt good.

Since then, remembering the Dalai Lama’s conception of compassion has helped me to minimize my anger in most situations.

Who provoked you recently? Are they happy? Happy people don’t need to hurt others. Insecure ones criticize and take advantage. People with a positive self-image are less likely to consciously do that. Insecure folks have been bashed themselves. Loving yourself makes it easier to be kind to unhappy so
uls. In situations that rile me, I now realize that what people do or say stems from their own unhappiness. Instead of anger, I feel sorry for them.

Choose to let compassion temper anger. Why allow someone’s dysfunction to debilitate you with complaints and rage?

People who are nasty and mean don’t love themselves. Their pain motivates them to hurt others. When you understand that they’re are hurting themselves more, you can feel sorry for them instead of getting hurt. This philosophy has nurtured my inner peace. I highly recommend it!

My compassion is on an individual basis. I still lose it sometimes. There are people who push my buttons too far and create short-term anger. But, then I look for their source of pain so compassion can take over. It makes sense. Compassion takes nothing from me and anger does no good. That doesn’t mean letting people get away with unfair behavior. I take appropriate action if I’m wronged. But my strong desire to take good care of myself motivates me to replace anger with compassion. I express myself in a nice but firm way and take appropriate action to rectify the situation.

You CAN choose not to absorb someone’s negativity. Practice. It sure feels good!

Don’t give others power to affect you so much! This doesn’t mean you push anger aside because you feel sorry for the person. You can’t swallow anger without getting life indigestion. Have compassion but still express feelings. Get it out gently but get it out. Otherwise, anger multiplies at your expense. I feel so blessed with my life, my positive attitude, and my total faith in God, that I’m generous. But I’ll end negative friendships and do what’s necessary to move on when I must.

Just like forgiveness, compassion doesn’t mean forgetting or letting someone get away with unacceptable behavior. It’s for you! Why make yourself feel worse when you can feel better??!

Be true to your values. Yes, there are unkind or downright evil people. But those who do the dirty on others are not happy. Mean people NEVER have enough money; NEVER have enough power; NEVER feel satisfied. To me THAT is punishment. People may feel perverse pleasure by hurting others; they may be honored for something or become rich and famous. But I truly believe they can’t be happy inside. They step on others to get more of what they’re never satisfied with. I feel blessed with all I have and grateful as heck to be doing what I love.

I love being in a good mood most of the time. When you practice letting angry situations roll off you by showing compassion, you’ll understand why it’s such a blessing! Being generous about giving compassion to others is a gift—to YOU.

Check out the Dalai Lama’s latest book, How to See Yourself As You Really Are (Atria, 2007).

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Happy New Year to you all!

I entered 2008 feeling positive and expecting GREAT things that I KNOW I will get! For my first post of 2008, I have a guest. David M. Bailey is no ordinary one. I got to know David when I interviewed him for a book in 2002. His story inspired me. While I interviewed him as a musician, he is so much more—a troubadour who travels the country spreading hope and faith. You see, David was given no more than 6 months to live when he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

That was in 1996! Every July I’m delighted to get his email celebrating another year of proving the docs wrong!

David pursued his music passion in college, playing extensively in an original acoustic duo, but after graduation, traded his guitar for corporate America. After being told he was going to die, David left his corporate job and returned to his first love—songwriting and performing. Since then, he has cranked out one CD after another, sharing his hope and music with many thousands of fans. All of his CDs reflect his positive attitude about hope and living life. They are wonderful to listen to and make thoughtful gifts for people who might have a personal struggle (and who doesn’t!).

I sent David’s “Faith” CD to a woman I correspond with in Tehran, Iran. She translated one of my books 5 years ago and we’ve had an email friendship ever since. Nasrin loved the CD! She’s been struggling with some issues with her life in Iran and found a lot of hope in David’s words and music. You can hear hear David’s music on his website.

Eleven years, 16 albums, & 44 states later, David continues speaking to audiences with his music and inspirational talks that challenge us all to live passionately and treasure the beauty of each new day!

This morning I got this poem from David and asked if I could share it on my blog. He sends beautiful messages to those of us on his mailing list. It inspired me so I hope it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling too!

Another year has passed us by
we breathe, we laugh we learn we cry
we wrestle with the great unknown
and struggle not to feel alone
we look around to find the love
and pray for blessings from above
we toss our coins in the fountain of hope
and make our wish that we can cope
with all that waits around the bend
its so hard to comprehend
yet as I try to look ahead
my eyes are turned behind instead
One year ago this very day
I recall the words i tried to say
I am not sure exactly how
But i looked ahead to well, right now.
I wondered if I’d still be here
Alot can happen in a year
And alot did. that’s for sure
Did I mention that I went on tour?
Felt like i went everywhere
But it’s a mighty big world that waits out there.
Bla blah blah that news is old
those episodes have all been told
For all we did there’s more to do
You already know that’s true
that’s not the point i’m trying to make
Here’s the point for goodness’ sake
a year ago i could not have said
what would happen in the year ahead
that year ahead is now behind
A couple things come to mind
It doesn’t matter where you went
What matters is how the time was spent
It doesn’t matter who you met
what matters is who you don’t forget
It doesn’t matter the battles you lost
It matters if you learned the cost
It doesn’t matter the games you played
What matters is the friends you made
It doesn’t matter who you know
What matters is the care you show
It doesn’t matter if you learned to grieve
What matters that you still believe
Believe in faith, hope and love
That’s what this life is all made of
3 simple words are still the reason
we pull ourselves through each new season
So yes, we made it you and I
One more year to dream and try
One more day – 365
It’s beautiful to be alive
these words were quick just off the cuff
And I’ve already said enough
I fear if I take any more time
I’ll just sound like a nursery rhyme
I probably already do
Which should be my final clue
To end this quickly- end it now!
I’m just not sure that I know how
To end it well. oh what the
Hello everybody and happy new year! 🙂

You can find more about David at If you or someone you know could use some hope, faith, or just some great music, you can order his CDs at

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I’m still immersed in my last minute New Year’s cleaning. But I’m also excited for tonight. I love to start the new year well and I will have a special entrance into 2008.

Confession: I’ll be home solo tonight!
Confession: I’m VERY HAPPY that I’ll be home solo tonight!

Women often feel they need to have a date, no matter what or who. Some feel embarrassed to have no plans. Not me! I love me and enjoy spending solo time. It’s a joy, not a sentence.

Confession: A guy I just began dating asked what I’m doing tonight. I said I have a date with me! ? And I do.

Years ago, I was stood up by a guy I was mad for on New Year’s Eve. Long story. I was devastated. The following year, a friend told me her mom always said that the way you enter the new year sets a tone for the rest of your year. She pushed me to go out partying with her and a group of her friends. But I decided if what her mom said was true, I wanted to enter the new year peacefully. So I stayed home with some Chinese food and my favorite cookies. Was peaceful and had a peaceful year. Since then, I only spend that night with a friend I’m very close with or a serious boyfriend.

Otherwise, I’d rather spend it with just me.

Many folks don’t understand it but I’ve been looking forward to tonight. I have some great meditation and motivational CDs. When I finish cleaning, I’ll go out and buy my favorite cookie as a treat. Around 8 I’ll turn off all the lights, light lots of candles and pour a glass of wine. Then I’ll get comfy and listen to the CDs. Some years I write down everything I’m angry about and burn it. This year I don’t feel anger so I can skip that.

After the CDs I’ll say all my blessings out loud—every one I can think of. I’ll say thanks to all the people in my life that I appreciate. Then I’ll affirm out loud how great 2008 is. Then a little more quiet, self time, until I watch the ball fall. I’ll enter the New Year with a bang and a big smile. ?

I hope that you all have a very wonderful, peaceful and hopeful New Years Eve too.

Many blessings to you all!! I’ll talk to you next year! ?

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