Morgan Sheets: To learn to love yourself, Practice “positive dissociation”

Practice “positive dissociation”. As you move through your day, practice adopting the perspective of your higher self, or the wise observer of your life. Let that part of you reflect back how you can improve your relationship with yourself and ways that you can change and improve so that you improve your life. For example, […]

Practice “positive dissociation”. As you move through your day, practice adopting the perspective of your higher self, or the wise observer of your life. Let that part of you reflect back how you can improve your relationship with yourself and ways that you can change and improve so that you improve your life. For example, let’s say you have a habit that’s self-destructive, like an addiction of some sort. You can practice observing yourself and be curious. Ask yourself why you’re doing that behavior and then ask if there’s something else you could do that would be more loving and nourishing for yourself. Tapping into our higher self can provide us with excellent guidance. You’ll know that you’re connected with that part of you because the feedback that you hear from that facet of you feels clear, peaceful, honest and real. While you may be guided to do things that are uncomfortable, our higher self does not berate or chastise us. It only provides loving and compassionate guidance.

I had the pleasure to interview Morgan Sheets. Morgan is a Certified Master Wellness Coach through the International Association of Wellness Professionals and Founder of “Live Well. Be Well. Do Good.” In her holistic wellness coaching practice, Morgan specializes in coaching clients who have created external success but lack inner fulfillment, feel frustrated, stuck in patterns that keep them unhappy, and deeply disconnected from themselves to feel good again from the inside out. She supports her clients to listen to their inner-knowing and body, honor their authentic desires and transform their relationship with themselves, their life and business to create long-term holistic success. Morgan is the creator of the program, 6 Weeks to Get Your Message In The Media, supporting wellness professionals and solopreneurs to share their expertise through media outlets. Morgan also serves as the Media Relations Coordinator and Student Success Ambassador for the International Association of Wellness Professionals.

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

My own journey to heal and transform my relationship with myself led me to my current career path.

I began to first experience mental and emotional challenges in childhood, which I’ve been told was from experiencing events that I didn’t have the coping skills to process. I experienced episodes of depression and fatigue. My mom tried to get me help as a teenager, but we didn’t find the right solutions. I felt powerless, angry, and like there was something wrong with me. I began to hate myself because I thought I was broken. I had a very loving family and my parents and relatives always did their best to care for me. I felt guilty for experiencing what I did because I recognized that in so many ways I had a magical and blessed life and was fortunate to experience so many extraordinary opportunities. I began to become increasingly hard on myself for experiencing these challenges.

In my later teen years and early 20’s, I continued to experience more events that I didn’t know how to cope with.

In my mid 20’s I discovered that I had chronic PTSD, which helped me understand my challenges more but I still struggled to manage and understand the condition. At 30, I discovered when I visited a functional medicine doctor that I was also suffering from adrenal fatigue.

Despite my challenges, I focused on being a high achiever. I bought a house at 19, my freshman year of college and worked almost full time hours while going to school full time as well. I signed with a modeling agency and pursued working as a model and actress. I also began voraciously reading books on physical health, mental health, self-help, and spirituality in an attempt to find reason, meaning, and guidance on how to heal what I was experiencing. After graduating from Butler University with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media Production and concentrations in Business and Sociology I joined my mom in her business as Director of Marketing. When the economy tanked in 2008, so did the business. The stress we were under was tremendous and it took a huge toll on our health.

I decided to explore what other work I could do because my ailments made working at a “normal” job seem impossible. I was light sensitive, sound sensitive, my nerves were raw, I struggled to control my emotions, I struggled to focus, and was constantly tired. Yet, I also tried to hide it because I wanted to be “normal”. I began seeing a counselor and worked on uncovering what I could do next with my life. I decided to go to massage school and become a massage therapist so that I could work in a dark and quiet room where I didn’t have to talk to anyone (because that’s all I felt capable I could do anymore in life) and I could follow my passion for holistic health and also help other people (and I hoped me, too) heal and feel better.

My mom started a second business, which I joined her in again as Director of Marketing. After obtaining my therapeutic massage certificate I began working part-time as a massage therapist as well. In 2013, when I turned 30, I started my business Living Well Enterprises, LLC where I decided I would focus all of my energy on “living well, being well, and doing good” and help others do the same. I had success on my own as a massage therapist and grew my business to a place where I was doing well financially and I restored my energy, mind, emotions, and body to where I was in a much better place.

At the beginning of 2015, however, I faced a sense of lack of satisfaction and fulfillment. I was financially secure, had restored my physical body, was independent in my work and enjoyed what I did and I was still unhappy. So, I began searching again. At a workshop, a life coach I was in conversation with asked me if I was a coach. I said I wasn’t. He said, well you may want to look into being one because you just sat and coached me in the conversation we had and I think you’d be really good at it.

I went online and started researching coaching and discovered the International Association of Wellness Professionals, where I learned I could become a holistic wellness coach. I felt like I had finally found my purpose. I enrolled and became a certified wellness coach and then a certified master wellness coach. As I began to build my own coaching business and had success in landing earned media placement, I branched out and began to use my past business experience and education to help other wellness professionals get their message in the media. I have so much I still want to do to grow my business and expand in my roles and offerings, to bring to life in more ways my life purpose to “live well, be well, and do good”.

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?

I’d really like to expand into offering more group programs to support people to understand what I call their “well-being blueprint” and create a healthy relationship with themselves and life. I’m moving slower at realizing that desire than I had initially intended, but I’m taking a detour for a reason that feels great. At the end of 2018, I took on the role of Media Relations Coordinator and Student Success Ambassador with The International Association of Wellness Professionals. I’m now able to amplify my ability to do good by supporting all IAWP graduates to gain more visibility and share their expertise in the media to help people heal and restore well-being. I’m also revising my, 6 Weeks to Get Your Message in the Media program right now and planning on launching the updated version this Spring.

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

I struggled for much of my early years and young adult life with self-understanding and self- love. In addition to the challenges I already shared, I moved often growing up and went to 9 different schools between K-12. It was a blessing that I had a wide and rich range of experiences to learn from and also it brought its own challenges. I’ve had many different tipping points along my journey, there wasn’t just one moment.

The most recent tipping point came for me five years ago when I turned 30 and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I felt so tired that I felt like an old woman who had reached the end of her life. I felt devoid of life force and like I was merely existing. I started diving into books on healing from adrenal fatigue and understanding my brain and nervous system. In doing so, I read a book called The Biology of Belief, by Bruce H. Lipton which changed my life. While reading this book, I had an “aha” moment. He talked about how environment was the sole deciding factor of how our genetic code is expressed and the importance of environment. I realized right then and there that if I wanted to heal I needed to focus a lot of attention on changing my mental environment and I decided to focus on learning to love and accept myself, even if i didn’t like what I was experiencing, how I was responding to life, or my circumstances. And ever since then, I’ve been focused on evolving and growing in my ability to love, understand and accept myself.

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 think the cause is going to be different depending on the person, but I can share what I think may be some contributing factors. 
 For one, I think that in our culture we’re taught to focus our attention more on how we look on the outside both in our lives and physically, then we are taught to focus on how we feel on the inside. I think this can create a lot of dissatisfaction with our appearance as we strive to fit some kind of image that we think of as better than whatever we are. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all can find someone who we think is better looking or has a better looking life than us and then compare ourselves negatively.

I also think accessibility of cameras and the “selfie” culture we’re in has a lot to do with it. Our image is being captured in photos now more than ever before and therefore we’re also seeing all the many different angles where we don’t look our best, or we’re being captured in unflattering and awkward moments. It can be uncomfortable and not feel so great to have to look at them. I think we tend to forget that the images we do see posted on social media or in magazines probably is the result of many, many different takes. And teams of people. And countless hours of effort that resulted in one perfect moment. Real life doesn’t always unfold like that, it’s often unflattering and messy and unglamorous and we forget that there’s beauty in that, too.

I think to a certain degree, there’s also a lot of social bonding and connection that happens over talking about things we don’t like about ourselves. In the past, it was probably more socially acceptable to talk about what was wrong with us than it was to like ourselves. If we liked ourselves and praised ourselves, we could have been seen as selfish, full of ourselves, and vain. I do see a shift towards people focusing on talking more about what they like about themselves (in a humble and authentic way) and I’m really glad that the shift is happening.

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?

No matter where you go in the world, what you do, or who you are with you will always take yourself with you. Your relationship with yourself will dictate how you show up in every other relationship or situation in life. It’s essential to understand and love ourselves well, so that we create a strong foundation to build the rest of our lives upon.

There’s a persistent illusion, that if we obtain a certain title, make a certain amount of money, get in a certain relationship, wear certain clothes, or live or travel in certain places that we’ll arrive at this place of having “made it” and all of our inner turmoil, insecurities, and dissatisfactions with ourselves will magically disappear. And it’s not true.

Truly understanding who you are, how you operate, and what you need will help you to make choices that are most suitable in your career path, romantic relationships, what you do with your leisure time, etc. Knowing who you are will help you create a life that supports your well-being and fulfills your needs. Understanding and loving yourself is essential to creating holistic success, which is a life that is not only outwardly successful but inwardly successful, too.

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

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been in bad, toxic, and abusive relationships. I think the reason I was in them was because I didn’t understand what love was or how to recognize warning signs of a toxic relationship. At the time, I thought that loving someone meant being there for them through their transgressions and trying to help them change. I believed that because I loved them, I needed to be the one to put up with being treated badly. I didn’t have the self-esteem to believe I deserved better and because I didn’t recognize warning signs, I’d let people into my life that I shouldn’t have. I still grieve for that version of me and feel sad at what I put up with because of my beliefs.

I found myself in mediocre relationships because they were good enough. There was a fear that I would give up good enough and better wouldn’t be out there. I simply didn’t believe that the relationship I dreamed of was available to me. Sometimes we engage in relationships where there isn’t per se anything bad, but they just aren’t right for the goals we have in life, what we want to do, and who we are. Sometimes relationships are a good fit for a certain amount of time, but we may outgrow them at a certain point if the other person isn’t growing in the same direction. In my experience, these are the hardest relationships to let go of because there isn’t animosity towards the other person, you just aren’t the right fit anymore. It can be challenging to end a relationship like this because you know you’ll hurt the other person and you know that you are only doing it because of your own needs which can feel mean and selfish.

As far as being afraid that you won’t find another love or another relationship, I’m a living example now of this being untrue. In my current relationship, my man treats me better than I ever thought it was possible to be treated in my life. I’m so grateful for every relationship that didn’t work out and every man who treated me badly, because now I know how to truly value and appreciate a really good man and cherish a really good relationship.

It’s essential that we become clear on what we want in a relationship, who we want to show up as in our relationship, our needs from the relationships, and our own personal life goals. I would strongly suggest that if you aren’t in the type of relationship you want that you explore your beliefs around what you think is available to you.

If you don’t know what your needs are, what you value, what you will accept, what you want, and the direction of your life, then you’ll find yourself settling for or wasting time with people who aren’t a good fit. Get clear on what you want, set your standards, and create some strong filters and boundaries around who and what you allow in your life.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I 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?

I mentioned the tipping point I arrived at when I hit 30, and I did some serious self-reflection. I actually sat down and wrote in my journal all the things that I didn’t like about myself, how I showed up in life, who I was being, and what I was doing. I wrote down with complete honesty, not in an attacking way, but in an authentic attempt at self-reflection exactly who I was showing up as, and I didn’t like it. When I had everything in black and white on paper, I also realized that almost everything on the page was in my control to change. And if I couldn’t control the thing, I could control how I felt about it. I’m still diligently working every day to transform myself with love, to evolve and become more than I am.

There’s isn’t one question that’s going to be what every person needs. I find using a simple self-inquiry technique where you have a conversation with yourself can organically bring the tough questions up as long as you are willing to go there.

It can look something like:

– Brain dump the strongest feelings and thoughts in the moment. This is the “story” of whatever situation, event, or circumstance you are navigating. I start this with the header, “I’m experiencing”.

– Then write down the individual thoughts and feelings. I start this with “I’m feeling/thinking”. Here, I like to focus on naming emotions, physical feelings, and specific thoughts.

– Then I ask myself, “What do I need” and “Why” about each thought or feeling.

Living this way has made self-inquiry a habit, I focus on asking myself the difficult questions as a habit, not just as an occasional activity. Avoiding pain and discomfort will keep us stuck in that which we avoid, so we must be willing to face our discomfort and ask ourselves whatever tough questions that we’d rather avoid or not know the answer to.

One really tough decision I had to make was choosing to leave my mom’s business and start my own. She had told me from the time we started it that one day I would be inheriting and running the business, it was really hard to face the fact that I just didn’t want to take over running that business. No matter what I did, I couldn’t make myself passionate about our line of work. I loved the product, I believed in it, I loved the industry and I loved the idea of being the one to continue my mom’s legacy through running her business. And I was really proud of my mom for the business that we had created. There was a part of me though that wanted something else, and a deep inner feeling of having to pursue another purpose and path for my life. It was a really tough decision to make, but I had to honor it.

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)?

I went through a time in life where so many people around me were destroying me, or my property, or were harmful to my life or my family in other ways that I isolated and withdrew from people. I decided that it was better to be alone and in good company, than surrounded by people and still feel lonely and not taken care of.

My mom also used to tell me, “wherever you go, there you are” and so I focused a lot of attention on learning how to be happy by myself and to feel not alone or bad when I was by myself. Being secure being alone with yourself gives you the ability to choose to allow other people in your life for the right reasons, not just because you can’t stand to be alone with yourself.

I think that if you can’t be alone, then you can’t really have a healthy relationship with someone else. In my experience, anytime we struggle to be alone, there’s an underlying need of being reliant on things outside of ourselves to feel good or okay, and those things wind up running your life. If you can’t experience intimacy with yourself, you’re not going to be able to with anyone else either.

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?

If you can love yourself and show up authentically and expose your vulnerability with yourself than you can do the same with another. I’m not a perfect person and like most people, I have issues and challenges that I face, and aspects of my body, life, and personality that I’m not a huge fan of. I’ve learned to have compassion for myself and face these parts of me with love and grace and because I can, I’m also able to show up for my partner the same way. I have such a wonderful boyfriend, but he also has his own challenges and issues. In our relationship, we both focus on showing up to each other with compassion, love, and good intentions. Because we individually focus on treating ourselves that way, and being those types of people, we’re able to bring those elements into our relationship and connect on deep and intimate levels. We don’t have to hide our humanness, our challenges, our flaws, or our embarrassing body moments from another. We can share them together, love each other with them and through them, and also laugh at the ridiculousness we experience as humans sometimes.

When you arrive at a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then you’re also able to communicate your needs well to your partner. One thing that comes up frequently in my coaching work is that clients don’t communicate their needs. They simply expect their partners to know what they want and then if the partner doesn’t do what they want they respond with frustration and anger. And then they expect their partner to understand from their emotional response how they want them to behave. It’s not healthy behavior or conducive to a good relationship. If we know ourselves and love ourselves we’re going to be more likely to show up and communicate what we need and make requests of our partners, instead of making demands.

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

I believe everyone should discover about themselves what I call their well-being blueprint. We need to write a user’s manual about how we are made up, what we need, what we desire, and what our strengths and challenges are, so that we can understand how to take care of ourselves.

Some tools to gain greater self-understanding are The Blood Type Diet by Dr. James D’Adamo, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, StrengthsFinder, Dosha, Numerology, Astrology, Body Typing, and the Enneagram.

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?

  1. Do the self-inquiry reflection exercise I mentioned earlier
  2. Practice “positive dissociation”. As you move through your day, practice adopting the perspective of your higher self, or the wise observer of your life. Let that part of you reflect back how you can improve your relationship with yourself and ways that you can change and improve so that you improve your life. For example, let’s say you have a habit that’s self-destructive, like an addiction of some sort. You can practice observing yourself and be curious. Ask yourself why you’re doing that behavior and then ask if there’s something else you could do that would be more loving and nourishing for yourself. Tapping into our higher self can provide us with excellent guidance. You’ll know that you’re connected with that part of you because the feedback that you hear from that facet of you feels clear, peaceful, honest and real. While you may be guided to do things that are uncomfortable, our higher self does not berate or chastise us. It only provides loving and compassionate guidance.
  3. Take time every day to sit and become present with yourself and your body. I love the book,Full Body Presenceby Suzanne Scurlock-Durana as a resource to help guide you on how to do this. When I was a bodyworker I studied her work, and by implementing her techniques I found it really helped me to create a deeper connection with myself. There was a time in my life when I had shut down so much and disconnected from my feelings, that I didn’t feel joy or love for others. I could act happy, I could say words or do loving actions, but I didn’t feel them in my body. When I felt into my energy space, I discovered that I lived outside my body or only in my head. I didn’t feel things inside my body. I spent a lot of time on my own reconnecting to myself and my body. I learned how necessary it is to be present inside our bodies to truly feel alive and experience the moment.
  4. Respect your preferences and dreams.I’ve learned that it’s important to show myself respect by valuing my dreams and preferences, even if they are different than what I think I should be doing. The hardest thing for me has been honoring this while growing my business. But at the end of the day, my values and my authentic needs weren’t in alignment with growing as fast and big as possible with my business. It’s a struggle sometimes to honor my authentic needs and not listen to what my ego thinks I should do. I’ve done it enough now to know that the reward for doing this is great, and that when I follow this path life unfolds even better than I could have imagined. My ego isn’t always a big fan of this path, but it makes the rest of me happy and feel in integrity and authentic. At the end of the day this creates the holistic success in my life that I value deeply and empowers me to achieve my external desires, while also creating success in all other areas of my life.
  5. Don’t tell yourself who you are and what you like, let yourself discover it. I think we all can become “boxed” in through our beliefs of who we think we should be or how we think we should act or dress, and it can limit us from discovering what we actually like. A small example of this is that I had my hair highlighted recently. I’m 35 years old and I had never had my hair professionally colored or highlighted. The only change I’d ever had to my hair was an at-home dye job I did when I was 15, that managed to turn my hair into a purplish color and did not enhance the copper in my hair like I was hoping for. I’m not sure why, but I had beliefs that it was frivolous to get highlights, that it was a waste of money and irresponsible, and that I just wasn’t the kind of person who could have their hair highlighted. (I should also mention the whole thing was a gift from my boyfriend.) This may sound ridiculous to you, but I broke down in tears and became emotionally upset over getting my hair done. I had to actually sit down and write down my beliefs and sort through the thoughts and emotions surrounding the action of doing it. And have a conversation with my boyfriend! A part of me thought that I was “bad” and “wrong” for getting highlights. I know it sounds like an incredibly silly thing to be in turmoil over, but I was. I did get the highlights and I felt so free and liberated after doing them. I loved how fun it was to change my look.

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?

A book that I love on self-love and often recommend to female clients is Madly In Love With Me by Christine Arylo. I like the light-hearted and whimsical feel of it, which seems to help make what can be heavy emotional work at times more fun. I’m a big fan of all of her books, her others, Choosing Me Before We and Reform Your Inner Mean Girl: 7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself are also great.

Last year I read Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski Ph.D. I think every woman and man should read this book, as it really helps a woman to know and understand their body and sexual preferences. If you know what you need to be turned on or enjoy sex, then you can tell your partner. I loved how the writer emphasized over and over that there are so many different body types and styles and sexual desires, but that they are all beautiful and all normal.

The most impactful book to my current relationship is the one that my boyfriend wrote. Before we began dating, he gave me a copy of his book to read and I realized that we had very similar belief systems on how to move yourself through challenges and that we thought about life and what it means to be successful and live well in similar ways. Reading his book, Someday: The Excuses We Tell Ourselvesmade me realize that I had found a kindred spirit and helped me get to know his mind much faster than I would from just having social conversations together.

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…

I’m on a mission, slowly but surely, to inspire and empower people to “live well, be well, and do good”. My goal is to grow my platform and influence and use it to share information and resources to help people create holistic success in their lives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? 
 Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

It’s so hard to pick just one quote!

Since we just talked about my mission, I think the most relevant quote to share here would be the one that inspired me to develop my mantra and mission of “live well, be well, do good”. It’s a quote by Voltaire and he says, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

I see and hear so many people praying and wishing and hoping for their lives to change, but they don’t actually show up for themselves in their lives to create the lasting change. In my experience, life responds to us taking the initiative to improve our life situation with whatever resources we have available. Unless we treat ourselves well and do all that we can to live well given the resources we have available to us, I don’t think life shows up to help us. If we aren’t willing to support ourselves to live well, why would life?

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