Dr. Ali Griffith: “When you care enough to give your very best”

Gratitude FIRST: My first words when I put my feet on the ground each day is “thank you”. Starting my day in gratitude reminds me that no matter what comes ahead during the day, my first and core thoughts will be, gratitude. As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I […]

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Gratitude FIRST: My first words when I put my feet on the ground each day is “thank you”. Starting my day in gratitude reminds me that no matter what comes ahead during the day, my first and core thoughts will be, gratitude.

As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Griffith. Dr. Alisha “Ali” Griffith is an autism parenting strategist, speaker and coach. She is also a compassionate professionally trained educator, speech language pathologist, and audiologist for nearly two decades. She has worked in schools, homes, offices, and in her own practice connecting to families with autism and other sensory challenges. Through her service, Dr. Ali has helped many to SHIFT their self-talk towards BELIEVING in their unique strengths, differences and gifts.

Dr. Ali Griffith is also a #1 Best-Selling author with her book AU-MAZING GIFT: A Journey to Autism Acceptance. She is a maverick and catalyst for bold changes, a great connector within the autism community and igniter of positive energy, globally. Dr. Ali has created a movement to shift inner dialogues from negative to positive with appreciation through the power of listening and embracing differences and unique gifts. She believes the KEYS to success are in maintaining a positive mindset, finding your strengths and gifts through life’s journey and powerfully staying in ACTION.

Currently, the CEO of Dr. Alisha Griffith, LLC., a training and development company for autism parents, Dr. Ali previously launched two other programs, So Smart Kids, Inc., and a 501 c (3) non-profit organization, Smart Fit Fam. Both are programs that inspire, educate and transform children and families on the autism spectrum on wellness, nutrition and fitness.

Dr. Alisha “Ali” Griffith has been seen on Good Morning America, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), Power Play TV and an interview on Comcast. She has also been seen speaking on the stages of Steve Harvey’s Act like a Success Conference, Lisa Nichols Speak and Write to Make Millions Conference and Autism Alliance of Michigan Conference. She has also been featured in NBC, Family Circle, Parent Magazine, Healthy Way, The Network Journal, NY Metro Parents, Caribbean Life News and many more. She is a contributing writer to Mom’s N Charge blog and has been interviewed on other blogs like Guyanese Girls Rock and The Art of Autism. Some of the podcasts Dr. Ali has been interviewed on includes Autism Quality of Life, The Riot Starter on iHeartRadio, Blog Talk Radio and We Help You Thrive.

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

As a single parent raising a child with autism, I was serving families externally, as an audiologist and speech language pathologist, but internally was in a spiral of stress, guilt, anger and overwhelm, barely thriving. Going through the stages from denial to acceptance of having my own child with exceptional needs was challenging. Helping others with communication yet withholding my own story, of being an autism mom, began to weigh heavy on my shoulders. So I started my own journey in self-discovery towards deciding what was my reason for having the passion and experience of working with those that were “less- abled” prior to having my own. In that journey I learned that I am here to serve others through my experiences to help them reach true “self’ acceptance and embracing their child as an “au-mazing gift.” This began my becoming a #1 best-selling author or Au-mazing Gift: A Journey to Autism Acceptance, certified coach and autism parenting strategist and transformational speaker.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Yes, I currently started a virtual membership group with other special needs moms called Au-mazing Ignite Nation where we meet twice a month online as a support group, answer parenting concerns, and provide strategies in entrepreneurship opportunities. Ignite Your Au-mazing Mastermind is an on-going virtual personal and business development training program for moms and special needs moms to provide additional tools, techniques and strategies to align their passion and purpose to create legacy building profit. Both are created to be a safe space to share common challenges, learn my signature strategies and understand that they are not alone, in their journey.

I am also excited about starting a podcast in 2019 called Ignite You: Motivation and Meditation to discuss current situations of special needs parenting and overcoming unexpected challenges. This podcast will provide ready to access ways to receive self-assurance, self-love and allow moms the brief opportunity to listen at their leisure. They will learn and utilize my signature “shifters” (techniques to shift from negative to positive) as well as meditation strategies to use when dealing with the immediate challenges, breakdowns and celebrations in their lives.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love?

Yes, my journey to acceptance from when my son was diagnosed in detail, through the pain to triumphs, I can still remember opening the envelope and seeing his official diagnosis and the jolt into what felt like a spiral of shame, pain and guilt. Raising a child with autism as a single mom was and still is a journey to self-love and the self-work and growth as I finally learned to ask for help.

Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

YES, I remember having a huge breakdown in front of my coach and mentor Susie Carder, during a conference where I was helping her out. She is a business and profit coach and I was there as a volunteer to serve and assist. She asked to sit with me and I completely broke down. At that moment we uncovered my next steps. During that clarity session I “found” me. We uncovered and strategized on how my passion for being in service as a leader, a natural creative of ideas filled with joy and positivity and the importance in my purpose of being an autism mom. During that exact moment, I felt a sense of calm understanding of my gifts and strengths and that I was truly the answer to so many out there with similar situations living in pain and anguish.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

I believe this is partially due to what we see on television, movies and magazines as “beautiful.” The comparison to what is in our mirrors relative to what is constantly being shown on advertising, creates an overwhelming feeling of “not being enough”. Our immediate cultures, traditions and families also can affect our sub-conscious self-perceptions and indirectly (verbally) affect us as we are growing up. Examples of this are the house hold nick names or teaser comments (or jokingly) for our “problem areas” that we may be ashamed of, can leave us feeling less than, at a very young age.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

We truly can’t love another person until we begin to learn, understand and love ourselves. We demonstrate to others what we give to ourselves. When we are in turmoil with who we are and unsure of how we deserve to be treated, we begin to feel incomplete and will affect the relationships we have. As you learn to love yourself then living as your complete self, will improve your relationships. My liberation and freedom occurred when I learned to accept, identify and embrace my purposes in life.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

People stay in mediocre relationships because of their fear of being alone or the unknown of if there is anyone else available for them. They also stay because they are comfortable with the immediate and afraid to step into the unknown territories. I have completed 2 marriages because I didn’t want mediocre for me, and it was important for my son to see a happier positive mom as a role model. I began to learn that I deserved more than was capable of being given at that time. I remember specifically saying the 3 words “I choose ME.” I chose my happiness, self-love and acceptance as a priority, above trying to please others or meet their needs first.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

We are continuously evolving with each relationship and experience that we encounter. At first, I used to play the blame game and position myself as “the victim”. I didn’t even realize that I was doing it, until seeing myself in one of my coaching sessions with a client. It was an eye opening moment and made me start to address my own self-work. I had to go back to my younger, naïve self to identify where I did it when dealing with Zachary’s diagnosis with autism, and even in my personal relationships. I learned to ask myself these tough questions. “What can I learn from this current situation?” How does this teach me to do better as I move forward?” As I move forward, what can I do differently?”

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

Positioning myself to be alone, was very scary for me, because it meant I had to embrace and be comfortable with “me”. In a world where negative thoughts, words and actions are so loud externally, we often tend to match the volume of negativity internally. That means we hear our negative thoughts and complaints very loud, when we are alone. When one of the moms in my coaching programs, learned one of my shifting techniques on how to turn down the “toxic negative thoughts” and turn up her “positive energy power”, she began to intentionally create moments alone in the day. Choosing “me time” is essential for being with your own thoughts and a powerful time to do gratitude exercises and set clear intentions in your life.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

To love myself where I accept my flaws and imperfections, and still appreciate the beauty of my boldness, unique beauty and quirky actions, allows me to embrace the uniqueness of others. To understand that we are created differently with individual perceptions actually makes me even more interested in learning more about others.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

Personal development coaching has helped me immensely. I invested my time, money and energy in working with a coach and a group of individuals that helped me to face my past, be present in the present and have a more active role in creating a future. Understanding that we can NOT do this process alone and to intentionally create the time to work on self, before working on helping others.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Gratitude FIRST: My first words when I put my feet on the ground each day is “thank you”. Starting my day in gratitude reminds me that no matter what comes ahead during the day, my first and core thoughts will be, gratitude.

Meditation Mindset: 20 minutes of meditation or prayer in the morning. I used to get up in the morning and my first thoughts were on what I had to do “for others”. Then I began the daily practice of spending time, connecting with internal self, and reconnect with my soul. I do this through daily meditation

Power Moves Daily: 30 minutes daily movement and exercise. I like to call this my “power moves with Ali” moment. When I work out, walk, run, dance…. it makes a difference in how I serve others throughout the day. I get to move my body which will lead to moving my mind. I create really good programs and strategies during my power moves time.

Travel solo: Yep, I plan a trip each year just by myself. No kids, no friends, no family. Just me and my thoughts, either in a car, train or plane. Solo time is not selfish it is essential to self-love.

Journal ideas: My mentor once told me that we create magic when we put pen to paper. I used to keep a lot of my thoughts and ideas in my head. Eventually these ideas swirled around and became chaos. Writing, allowed them to flow freely, maintain some sort of order and allowed me to record and recall great concepts that were at times conceptualized later.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

The Alchemist: Paulo Coelho I loved this book because I learned about becoming better than we are by loving ourselves and others. One of my most memorable quotes in this book reminds me to push through challenging moments when fear shows up is, “there is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

I also enjoy the various guests that are on Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays podcast to give me my breath back and hearing self- love conversations adds fuel to my everyday service with coaching, speaking and training other mothers of children with autism and other special needs.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

Embrace your Unique. When I help people to start to accept differences and appreciate the beauty of others’ uniqueness, then there would be less bullying, hatred crimes and more LOVE for the self and respect for others. Families and children living with autism and other special needs, will finally feel accepted, included and embraced as being “more than” a diagnosis.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?

“When you care enough to give your very best.” Hallmark

I started using this quote since I was 10 years old. It reminded me to give care for myself to the best of my ability before helping others to the same level of standards.

Take time to actually do the things that you care about and then give it your all. I still use this quote today when leading trainings or as an outro as a keynote speaker.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

Website: www.draligriffith.com

Email: info@draligriffith.com

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