Have you been holding onto a grudge, feeling like you’re stuck in the past? If you’ve been struggling with overeating and feeling helpless as you watch your weight creeping back up the scale, you’ve been feeling the press of stress. Many times we just overeat because we feel so darned stressed and don’t really have any idea why.

Not knowing what to do to get out of the loop of shame, we blame ourselves for all the things we did wrong and go over in our mind all the shoulda, woulda, couldas that keep us living, regretting the past. It’s an endless cycle that can only lead to your destruction. I know because I’ve been there. Here’s a bit of my story:

Have you been holding onto a grudge, feeling stuck in the past? If you’ve been struggling with being depressed, trying to cover it up with overeating, feeling sorry for yourself, sitting stapled to the sofa binge watching TV, it’s tempting to hate yourself when you notice your weight is creeping back up the scale.

But the problem isn’t the behaviors that you’re using to numb your hurt, the problem is the hurt. It’s the stress on your plate that’s driving the emotional hungers that make you feel the need to fill the emptiness with something . And if it’s food, that cycle of overeating and depression will never lift until you stop to look at the reasons that are causing it. It’s the same with any self-sabotaging compulsive habits. It’s all just a big cover up, fooling you into thinking that you’re broken when you’re not.

That’s what happens when you stand living in the past, shaming yourself, resenting, blaming and holding anger toward yourself or others.

You’re hurting yourself by holding onto any feelings that aren’t loving. Maybe like me, you grew up in an atmosphere where there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. Maybe you were scarred by physical or sexual abuse or maybe you know how much mean words can really hurt. Maybe you know the sting of rejection, and never felt as though you were loved or wanted.

The good news is that you’re an adult now, and no matter what love or tenderness you didn’t get from others when you were a kid, you can now give it to yourself. You can treat yourself with kindness and respect and move forward no matter what your circumstances. You don’t have to live with so much drama. The change starts when you start accepting where you are right now. But you’ve got to be willing to look and stop denying the truth of it. Let me tell you how I came to learn this really important lesson and how my life changed and turned around because I started taking 100% responsibility for the mess I was in.

B Is for Blamer

Abuse and intimidation was just a fact of life throughout my younger years, so I learned to accept it and think of that treatment as normal. As a result I wasted years jumping at shadows and being afraid. I let people walk all over me because I wanted to be liked and appreciated. I was probably thought of as a pushover because I had no sense of boundaries and didn’t value myself or my time as I do today.

My father and I used to have a very loving, close relationship. I adored my father because he was always so good to me, and he rescued me from a lot of horrible abusive people. He and my step mother, Rosie gave me a new life and made me feel safe for a long time.

When I was 23, my dad could no longer run the family real estate business. Without hesitation, I left NYU prematurely and stepped in to run the family real estate business with my 80-year-old grandmother, his mom.

I didn’t want to feel obligated to sacrifice my future to do it. But I did. I was angry and rebellious and resentful.

At that time, Manhattan real estate, was dominated by men. Being a female boss partnering with my Nana made me feel like a fish out of water. During those years my father was angry, and bitter and bullied us constantly. His nightly phone calls were toxic verbal assaults. His 20-page typewritten letters were filled with demands, to dos to run the buildings, to placate him, “Get me this, buy me this, do this.”

Because Nana convinced me that he didn’t mean to hurt us, I just kept forgiving him wishing that he would go back to being the dad he used to be. My heart filled with hate. I hated my job. I hated the tenants and it felt like I hated him, but mostly I was just so hurt. It killed me to watch all my college friends graduating and getting great jobs, and I felt stuck. I felt so deeply ashamed that I hadn’t finished college.

I wanted my father to appreciate me as a business woman, and to recognize my accomplishments, but he never did. He called me “stupid, naïve and a dumb blonde.” The man who once built me up so high when I was a teenager, tore me down as an adult.

Even in my position as a boss to others, I looked at myself through my father’s eyes and convinced myself I was a dumb blonde. I didn’t feel comfortable wielding the considerable power that I had because I harbored a belief that I was too stupid to handle it.

It took me years of feeling victimized to realize that I was cheating myself. I never gave myself the credit I deserved for running a multi-million dollar business. Nana and I managed 3 commercial/residential buildings in Manhattan with 110 tenant families and a 40 machine coin operated laundromat. I was 23 years old and responsible for 6 employees, 4 doctor’s offices and 110 tenant’s families. I managed them all.

When I think back on those 18 1/2 years, I realize that there were probably about 100,000 or more big and little opportunities that I missed because I refused to stand up to my father and question his authority of being my boss. He changed during those  years and became viciously verbally abusive to me and I kept making excuses why that was okay.

I had to walk through hell to get the lesson that I created so much of my own misery because I was complicit and just let things happen. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I didn’t want to upset him. I didn’t want to make a big stink because I didn’t think that I was worthy of being treated better and writing myself a check each week for more money.

When he would curse at me and sling insults, I cowered, although I was 200 miles away and he was just a voice on the telephone. On the many occasions when we visited and he was softer and more receptive, I never set a limit and demanded his respect.

The lesson I learned from that experience was that we’re always teaching people how we want to be treated.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, boy friend, boss or best friend. If you’re holding venom inside of you thinking that you’re hurting them, you’re only hurting yourself.

Are you being silent because you’re afraid someone will reject or judge you? My story demonstrates that it’s that silence and not wanting to rock the boat that shows people that you’re a patsy, okay with being treated disrespectfully.

Don’t waste your time complaining to others when you think something is unfair. Go directly to the source and say what’s on your mind. Naturally if you feel that your safety is in danger, this is not an option, but in any other case you owe it to yourself to make your voice heard.

Ultimately all was said and done, I found my courage and confronted my father and made my demands, but it was too late. After I sold the buildings, he got out of prison and walked out of my life with $11.5M and I was left with nothing but regrets and his empty promises of 49%. No legal written contract. Nothing but feelings of shame and the question, “Why?”

For years I called it betrayal, backstabbing and I cried and grieved and suffered through the pangs of depression of my loss. I wasn’t sad about the money. I was broken-hearted by his rejection.

Reclaiming My Dignity by Taking Responsibility

Finally one day after 11 years of living in poverty and debt, whining and crying and feeling so ashamed and stupid, I was able to get angry, really angry. It was that fury that gave me the freedom to move forward and finally drop the poor little stupid victim burden that I had been lugging around. Once I stepped into taking responsibility for my circumstances, they changed. That was the beginning of my RECLAIM system.

The ‘ R ‘ in my RECLAIM system stands for responsibility. No matter what tough situation is going on for you, if you want to change the way you feel about it, you’ve got to get real with yourself. Take 100% responsibility for your life. Life can be unfair. People sometimes make selfish decisions that hurt others. Bad things happen to good people. And sometimes you have to set your dreams aside to take care of business. But shaking your fists and blaming yourself, or anyone else, isn’t going to make your problems go away. You’ve got to step up and stand for what you want. It may not feel like it, but you do have a choice and if you’re not happy and at peace with your life, it’s up to you to change it.

No matter what you’ve got going on, it’s yours. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cancer diagnosis, wrinkles, a cheating spouse, or a family member living with you, it’s not a curse, bad luck, or a jail sentence. But it’s also not going anywhere until you accept it.

Look at whatever it is that’s pissing you off. Is it the fact that you’re aging and you don’t feel young and beautiful anymore or is it that you’re not earning the money you want? Is your marriage falling part, or are you feeling rejected by your kids? What’s going on for you? Claim it. Face it. Don’t hide and and don’t get tempted to deny the reality of what’s going on. Don’t shrug it away. As ugly as it is, if you’re unhappy with your life, you are now exactly where you need to be. Look at it.

There’s no use crying about spilled milk. By putting a fresh spin on your life and accepting the here and now, you have the power and strength to change it.

We overeat and overspend and overindulge because it’s our nature to find a way of not hurting. But as long as you’re medicating yourself and going numb, you can’t get a chance to really feel the truth of what’s going on. If you’re overweight, look at the fat on your body as a gift from your body showing you how often it has desperately tried to get your attention to say, “I’m hurting.” I feel unprotected and unloved.” I need attention. I need to feel good. I need to feel safe. I need to feel appreciated.” All the pasta and oreos and food in the world will never give you that. You can only give that to yourself. You can only get to that place of self-love by letting yourself feel all the hurt that you’ve been trying to push away. It won’t kill you to feel it.

In the third step of my RECLAIM Method, C – Cope with your stress, I teach my clients a process called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT which is like emotional acupuncture. In EFT, also known as tapping you use a light tapping motion with your fingertips on different parts of your face and hands to activate natural muscle relaxation centers throughout your body. The result is you feel calm and peaceful and ready to handle anything that is facing you. By tapping, you are able to subdue the brain’s natural tendency to panic whenever you feel threatened.

Tapping has changed my life and that’s why I passionately share it with other women.

On that note, let’s get back to Step 1 of my RECLAIM Method, Taking 100% Responsibility.

When you are able to do the tapping, you will have the tool you need to face what’s upsetting you.

Because the tapping changes neural synaptic connections in your brain, it enables you to see your situation differently. You can look at all the ugly, all the sadness, all the anger, all the pain that you feel and realize that you’ve only been doing the best that you could. And when you get that on a heart level, that’s when wells of self-compassion are going to burst inside of you, and that’s the change that makes you stop being a victim.

You have the most incredible power to manifest whatever you want in life. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control the way you respond to them. There are three things that you have direct control over in your life.

The words you say.
The thoughts you think,
The actions you take.

You can begin the shift of change by starting to focus on what you can control. Don’t waste 29 years like me whining and wanting to know why things happened the way they did. Your time to shine is now.

So let me ask you–

Are you taking 100% responsibility?