As a part of my series on strong female leaders I had the pleasure to interview Lindsey Dinneen. Lindsey is passionate about helping women and men live their most empowered, successful, and joyful lives. She is the creator of the 21 Day Mindset Detox Challenge course, which is designed to encourage people to detox their minds while powering up their bodies. We tackle negative mindsets while promoting the mind/body connection through gentle stretching. She is the Owner of VidaDance Studio, the Artistic Director and founder of VidaDance (a professional dance company), and the Co-Owner of Brio Creative (a business/marketing consultancy) with her husband, Kevin. She loves sharing the joy of dance and wellness with others, and continues to develop online courses in various dance styles, stretching/toning, and healthy living.
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.
Thank you so much for having me! I have been a dancer my whole life, so wellness has been a critical component of who I am for a long time. After graduating college and starting my career as both a professional dancer and businessperson, I was working seven days a week, close to 60 hours consistently, and barely making a living. Eventually I set out on my own as an entrepreneur. To everyone around me, I was beginning to see some fantastic success in my life as my business dreams started coming true, yet I was the one getting in my own way. It wasn’t until I started intentionally and actively detoxing from all of the limiting beliefs and toxic mindsets I had just accepted as facts of my life that I finally started feeling free. I was empowered, ready to tackle all of life’s challenges, and truly living my best life. I wanted to share my journey with others, which is why I embarked on creating wellness, mindset, and fitness courses.
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 am working on some exciting new projects! I am currently writing a series of children’s books to promote self-confidence, leadership, hard work, and the entrepreneurial spirit. I l also love creating online courses to promote wellbeing. Some of my upcoming projects include creating more dance courses, a Morning Stretch Routine course, and additional mindset wellness courses. I hope they touch people to understand, accept, love, and better themselves!
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 was very insecure growing up. As the middle child, I never thought I was enough — not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough — even though I was never told that explicitly. It took a long time for me to accept and love myself. My tipping point is very clear in mind, and although it may sound vain, it was pivotal for me. It was the moment, as a teenager, that I believed I was beautiful. Once I truly, deeply believed that, everything changed. I was able to accept who I was, at my very core, and actually embrace myself! It’s not that I suddenly thought I was perfect, but it was that I decided I liked 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?
Unfortunately, it makes complete sense to me that many people are not very satisfied with their appearance. There’s so much pressure through celebrities, social media, and influencers to look “perfect.” We are inundated on a consistent basis to look a certain way in order to be accepted, and yet even those “perfect”-looking people are often airbrushed and filtered. The consequences of not being very satisfied with your appearance often mean that you doubt your self-worth, desirability, and attractiveness. With that kind of negative self-talk, it’s hard to love yourself.
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?
Absolutely! Truly and unconditionally loving yourself is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your loved ones, and the world. It is one of the hardest mindset shifts to make, but also the most rewarding. Loving yourself opens you up to authentically love others, to have the confidence to step out of your comfort zone, and to affect real change in the world.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
I think it really depends on the individual in question, but what I commonly see is that people tend to stay in mediocre relationships when they believe that’s what they deserve, or they don’t think they can do “better.” The saying, “We accept the love we think we deserve,” is so often true. It’s a limiting mindset that says we have to stay with what’s comfortable or familiar. My advice would be for anyone in that situation to ask yourself if you can picture your life five or ten years down the road with that same person, who would you be? Do you like what you see? Have you been able to grow, and move forward? If the answer to those questions is no, I believe it may be time to move on.
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?
A great way to think about self-love is in the context of friendship. How do you interact with, love, and challenge your best friend? Best friends celebrate you, defend you, lift you up, and also challenge you to be the best possible version of yourself. What kinds of tough questions would they ask you? Hopefully, they’re asking you questions like:
· “What have you been learning lately?”
· “How are you growing and challenging yourself?”
· “Are you where you want to be in life? If not, why not?”
· “What bad habits do you need to change?”
· “What’s one thing you’re going to do differently this year for your health?”
· “What kind of person do you want to be?”
· “What are you telling yourself about yourself that isn’t true?”
One question I have to ask myself on a regular basis is, “Am I holding myself back because of a limiting mindset?” One recent example of this was at a networking meeting for women business owners. There was an owner in the “hotseat” who described a challenge in her business and asked the room for advice. The discussion moderator said that we’d all take turns providing a piece of advice, and my first reaction was, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to pass. What will I be able to contribute?” I felt intimidated by the powerhouse women in the group and that I might not have anything to offer. I immediately had to stop that negative mindset in its tracks and realize that I was the one in my own way. When my turn came to speak, I did have something meaningful to contribute. If I had allowed a limiting mindset to make the judgement call for me, I would have missed out on a valuable opportunity to grow, to stretch, and to help.
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)?
Sometimes the scariest thing can be the thought of being alone. We are constantly provided with stimulation though technology, people, and occupations, and sometimes it can actually feel impossible to spend quality personal alone time. Not being afraid of being alone, though, provides us with valuable opportunities to re-center, to refocus, to reflect, and to restore. When we allow ourselves true alone time, we are able to process our feelings, problems, ideas, and opportunities, which in turn contribute to self-understanding and self-love.
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?
It is impossible to truly love others if you don’t truly love yourself. Once you love yourself, you are able to project into the world confidence, joy, and peace, which allows you to connect and emphasize with others on a deeper, more intimate, and more authentic level.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
Individuals and society as a whole can help people better understand and accept themselves by providing opportunities, tools, and support. It’s important that we encourage people to spend time in self-reflection. Schools have a wonderful opportunity to assist with this from a very early age. Teachers can encourage weekly classroom exercises to reflect on the week to understand lessons learned, set goals for the coming week, and write down five things the students love about themselves. This type of exercise could be encouraged in the professional work environment as well. The more we promote self-understanding and self-acceptance, the more commonplace it will become.
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?
The first step to love yourself is letting go of resentment and grudges. Remind yourself that resentment and grudges poison you, and you alone. They do no harm to the other person, but they do a lot of harm to you. It’s like the illustration my husband always uses: Holding a grudge is like trying to fix a roast infestation by consuming the poison yourself. Choose to forgive those who’ve hurt you. Acknowledge that the feelings you’ve experienced are completely valid, and that you aren’t condoning the issues by choosing to forgive the offender. What you’re doing is giving yourself the gift of freedom from further harm. It’s about you taking back your power and not allowing anyone else to dictate or mess with you, your power, or your future.
I have to do this consistently, because I find it’s easy to slip back into a feeling of resentment. One of the hardest things for me to do personally is to release grudges and resentment towards people who don’t support me and my journey. I have to remind myself that every one of us is on a different path.
The second step is to release regrets. We’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all done things that we feel guilty about now. Remember that regrets don’t serve you. By dwelling on them, you are keeping your mind on the past, and not thinking about and looking forward to your future. Choose to not have regrets in life. That’s a choice you can absolutely make! Acknowledge that not everything was (or will ever be) perfect in your past, but that everything you’ve been through, every choice you’ve made, has led you to who you are today. Who you are today is strong and powerful and awesome! Embrace that truth, release your regrets, and focus on the future.
For awhile, I regretted a past relationship that brought about a lot of pain. I thought about how much more I could have grown and blossomed during that period of my life had I not been in it. I had to make a decision to stop regretting it, as it just kept me in my past. I know now that although that relationship was difficult, I still learned a lot about who I was and who I wanted to be, which in turn lead me to where I am now. I wouldn’t trade that self-understanding for anything.
The third step is to release guilt. We’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all done things that we feel guilty about now. Just like harboring regret, harboring guilt does not serve our best selves. It traps us in the past. Along those lines, if you are in a relationship where the other individual is consistently shaming you for things that happened in your past, you are in a toxic relationship. If you continue to past-shame yourself, you must stop. Your past is your past — it’s gone now. Forgive yourself and move forward without looking back. Experience the freedom that comes with forgiveness and acceptance, and the desire and drive to be better every day.
I’ve experienced feelings of guilt due to poor choices, especially regarding some money decisions in my past. I have to remember that I learn from poor choices and their consequences, so there’s no use in feeling guilty about them. I must continue to look forward every day.
The fourth step is to love your body. We get to remind ourselves every day just how incredible we are — how beautiful, strong, capable, and powerful our bodies are. While our physical appearances should not be our identity, we tend to intertwine the two. Instead of looking in the mirror and finding things you don’t like, look in the mirror and list everything you do like about your body. Remember that every special laugh line, wrinkle, scar, and stretch mark (what we sometimes consider to be “flaws”) are part of what makes us so beautiful! We’ve lived! Our bodies share that we have stories to tell, and that we are such incredibly stunning beings. Own and rock your body!
It took me a very long time to love my body, and I still have days when I feel frustrated with certain things I’d like to change. However, I have come to a place of deep appreciation for what my body can do — the strength that it has, and the abilities/talents I possess that make me who I am. That gratitude allows me to fully embrace my physical appearance.
In the end, when you move past resentment, grudges, regrets, guilt and shame, and embrace your body, the fifth step towards truly loving yourself is to do your best every day. Every single day, you have the opportunity to do a mediocre or average job with everything you do, or to go above and beyond and do your best. Your best will look different every day. When you’re at the top of your physical condition and feel great, your best will be highly energetic and overachieving. When you’re feeling sick or experiencing anxiety, your best may just be getting out of bed. As long as you do your best every single day (whatever that looks like for you each day), you will be avoiding negative emotions such as self-judgement, regret, or guilt. Instead, you will feel successful and accomplished daily!
Once I embraced the policy of doing my best every day, I became way more productive. I could give myself grace when I wasn’t feeling very well and just do whatever could be done, and when I was in prime condition, I could feel especially proud of my daily accomplishments. It makes a world of difference!
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?
One book that really stands out is “Do You Think I’m Beautiful?” by Angela Thomas, because it completely changed my views on beauty and allowed me to fully believe and accept that I’m beautiful, just the way I am (available on Amazon). Louise Hay has a powerful website on many topics related to self-psychology and self-acceptance (www.louisehay.com). The Law of Attraction website contains many great resources, including a free test, regarding what’s holding you back from being the best possible you and what you can do to break past those barriers (www.thelawofattraction.com). “The School of Greatness” podcast is great because the host, Lewis Howes, interviews successful people in the realms of health, wellness, and wealth (available on iTunes and Google Play). Finally, my own online course, the “21 Day Mindset Detox Challenge” is a powerful way to detox your mind while powering up your body to be your best possible self (https://www.udemy.com/mindsetdetoxchallenge/?couponCode=WELLNESS21 for $50 off the retail price).
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…
If I could inspire people to start a movement, it would be a campaign to ignite kindness and empathy towards all humans. The “pay it forward” movement would occur daily. Each of us would have enough confidence in our self-worth to understand that everyone is going through challenges. Instead of being unreasonable, disrespectful, or unkind, we would find daily reasons to pay the love forward. It would promote a lifestyle of empathy, kindness, and compassion. This movement would literally change the world.
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?
My favorite life lesson quote is quite straightforward! It’s simply, “Onward and upward. Good things are coming.” It has been the quote I come back to consistently, especially when times are tough, and it seems like nothing is going the way I had hoped. Coming back to “onward and upward” reminds me of several important lessons:
1. I have the power to choose positivity in this moment
2. My life’s trajectory is moving forward and higher
3. Nothing is going to hold me down and back
4. I will continue to do good things with my life as I grow
5. I expect that good things will be coming to me
It is a re-centering motto that serves to lift me up and ensure I look forward to my future.