Frenchie Friday: Even Elegant Women Get Pissed Off (A Rant about Self-Help)

SM_Eating Crepes

*Prefer to listen?  An audio recording is waiting for you at the end.  

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for new and richer experience.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday, someone asked me:  “What’s pissing you off these days?

Out of my mouth flew these words:  “the whole self-help industry.”

And, believe me, once a woman’s truth has been spoken, you can’t take it back.

I realize that, as a Master Life Coach, this personal confession may backfire so, before my rant gets underway, let me preface it with this:

1. Personal development (paired with Paris) inspired me to shed 75 pounds and change my life trajectory.

2. It’s not about “right” or “wrong,” it’s about what feels good.

3. I have been witness to significant life change through the programs I offer.

Those three points are as much part of my truth as what I will now tell you about why personal development hasn’t been sitting right with me these days…

For more than 5 years, I’ve had one foot in the personal development world and one in the world where my desires, passions and absolute loves are nurtured: travel, culture, style, food and wine, and Paris!

A Potential Dark World

The self-help world constantly encourages people to be better, work harder, make 6-figures (no, scratch that… you better be looking for 7-figures), make vision boards, set goals, journal about everything, and through it all, be empowered.

The self-help world promotes a culture of people who spend more time in front of their computer screens trying to build empires, rather than cultivating well-lived and meaningful lives.

It asks women to read another how-to-live-life book, rather than encouraging life to be truly lived.

It tells us to take another business course before going out and sharing our gifts with the world.

Meditate, chant, journal, do child’s pose, sign up for the webinar on how to do a webinar, do the 7-day cleanse. 

In other words: go bigger, improve more, do more.  And, for heaven’s sake, don’t relax or “you’re playing small”.

What is the result of all of these steps?

It leaves people feeling broken with diminished self-worth and a constant need to be better.

When did enlightenment become so dark?  (tweet it)

A French Kissed World

Okay… so, let’s talk about the world where I’d prefer to have both feet in.

It’s filled with ease, simplicity, elegance and beauty. It reminds me to slow down, savor life, and stop always trying to be better.

It encourages me to know that I am enough.

I want to throw dinner parties in this world, get off the internet, connect with real people, read juicy novels, watch great indie films and have great sex and romance.

In a hurried and heavy society, this world is my go-to for lightness and joy.

Confessions of a Former Addict

When I discovered coaching, I felt like I had found the holy grail.  The whole “your thoughts create your reality” stuff really had me going.

While I believe that awareness of your beliefs is an important part of designing a life you love, I also believe that it can be a slippery slope.

For me, I started spending most of precious life in my headexamining and journaling every “painful” thought.

Exhausting!  

Being a 24-7 detective of your mind will drive the most elegant woman to madness.

As a French friend said to me, “Americans are driving themselves crazy trying to be happy.”

While I loved the more empowering beliefs that I was cultivating, I was also exhausted from the constant self-investigation.

So, I’m going to just say it:  personal development is a modern day addiction. (tweet this too if you agree)

So, what’s the solution?

I can only share what has worked for me, but..

When I stopped trying to become a gazillionaire, a zen buddhist or anything that the self-help world tried to make me believe I should be, I began to breathe deeper.

When I began to focus on what I truly value – ease, beauty, connection, love and inspiration – life became a lot more fun.  

By designing my life around my values, I discovered more passions:  fashion, glamour, incredible dinners, divine chocolate paired with red wine, interesting people, time in nature, tantalizing conversations, travel and culture, and of course, Paris!

Action is the most important aspect of change. In wanting to have both feet in the world I desired rather than reading or being told how to live, I have:

:: Exchanged self-help books with fascinating biographies, the classics and the occasional chick lit.

:: Stopped signing up for tele-seminars and choose to meet up with girlfriends over coffee or Champagne.

:: Stopped analyzing every thought and just reach for something that feels a bit better (or not!).

:: Stopped caring that I wasn’t in self-help guru cliques and filled my own space with diverse and eccentric people from all over the world and all walks of life.

:: Instead of taking (yet another) business course, I hired a chief operations officer who knows business.

Please understand: I absolutely adore mentoring women through my different programs. 

But, I’m realizing (partly through testimonials from clients) that my programs are unique and adored, because in a world that’s telling women to go harder and faster, I encourage women to slow down and enjoy life.

And what have the found? Through ease, simplicity and elegance, they have created lives and bodies that they love.

For example:

Slim, Chic and Savvy is a French-inspired lifestyle program that has changed the lives and bodies of hundreds of women.   It is about so much more than strategy and offers fun challenges that require women to go out into the world and really live the philosophy.

 I have a Society of fabulous women who want to indulge in life and live with more ease, awareness and self-expression.  We travel to exotic locations, eat beautiful meals together and engage in interesting conversations, like desires, style, business, money, sex, food and love.  It’s like Sex in the City, only better because it’s real!

Change definitely happens— weight loss, new business, authenticity, increased revenue, love (with others as well as yourself), and many others– but it’s based off of ease and elegance.

I mean . . . what’s a million dollars in the bank if you’re working 80 hours a week and have no time to live? And, what’s being a size 2 if you’re never able to go to dinner without fear of “blowing it”?

I believe you can have whatever you want.

But, true luxury is when the journey to the dream is as beautiful as the dream itself. (tweet it)
 

It boils down to the core principal of French Kiss Life: enjoying life to the fullest today, not tomorrow after you’ve finally found the formula or read another how-to book.

(Complete side note:  I seriously doubt Coco Chanel attended weekend seminars on “How to Find Your Passion” or walked across hot coals in front of thousands.   However, I do believe she would have been a fabulous member of my Society, but I’m biased).

The best personal development in the world is experiencing life, not reading about it.  

What I do know is that:

:: Tasting a fine champagne can open a woman’s eyes to the power of indulgence.

:: Wearing a fabulous dress and cultivating the attitude to go with it can be a game changer.

:: Paris can shift a woman’s perspective when she sees an entire culture that thrives off pleasure.

:: Signing off the internet for an entire weekend and engaging in real-life can lead to absolute bliss and wonderful discoveries.

:: Choosing a path of ease will lead to more true luxury.

:: And, yes, darling, I do believe lipstick is mood enhancer, which I experience each time I paint my lips with color.

By curating beautiful experiences for women to indulge in everyday life, I offer them an opportunity to play in the world, to lighten up, to relax, to not be so serious, to have fun and to breathe!

And, that’s when their worlds explode with opportunity and joie de vivre.

If you feel like you are in need of a little self-help detox, then welcome to my world where I’ll be talking about it all – beauty, style, culture, home, food, travel.  And, yes, I’ll be sprinkling it with a little attitude adjustment suggestions.   Everything in moderation, right?

But, I’ll never speak to you like you’re broken, because you’re not.  You’re fabulous, and don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

With all of that said . . .

I’m taking a strong stand for more ease, beauty and elegance in a chaotic and vulgar world.

When your soul needs more lightness and fun paired with deep depth about this experience of life, I’m your lady.

Life’s too short, don’t ya think?

With a Sincere Heart,

Signature

Tonya

(P.S. I can’t wait to share more ways that I’m French Kissing Life in future posts, from the systems I’ve put into place to help things run more smoothly to living in fabulous style.  Let’s have some fun! Shall we?).

(P.P.S. I’ll always have a mentor.  I know.  I’m contradictory like that!)

And, per request from some of our fabulous community members, here’s an audio recording of today’s post for your enjoyment.  

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41 Responses to Frenchie Friday: Even Elegant Women Get Pissed Off (A Rant about Self-Help)

  1. Tonya I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this post! I felt myself relaxing and taking the pressure off myself just by reading it. Off now to investigate your Society! Perfect timing to remind me that weekends are for switching off – a small step but one I probably wouldn’t have made if it hadn’t been for your perfectly timed post!

  2. Hello Nicola,

    I couldn’t resist sending you a HUGE high five and love before I sign off for the weekend. PLEASE do something fun for yourself.

    xoxo,

    Tonya

  3. Yes I feel that you are speaking my thoughts out loud.

    A few years ago, after total immersing myself in the self-help world I lost my voice. I found myself getting back in the therapist couch with no voice and no idea how to get out. Too many other’s peoples voices/programs/debt as a result for finding the right answer/the right fix. My therapist kindly encourage me to go on a self-help detox. Shift the focus from fixing myself into living.

    Best decision ever. In the process I found my voice. I let go of a shitty job. I found a core group of business friends/mentors, I embrace the idea to live with ease. I allow life to flow beautifully.

    I rather spend my time reading memoirs, chick-lit. I love going through the process of discovering myself and learning how to manage my money. I now travel on a consistent basis. It’s all about allowing myself to just be.

  4. Isn’t this ironic Tanya? You are a self help guru/whatever. You take money from ppl by guiding them. Not trying to discredit your effort, but I think this article was phony.

    • Barry,

      Life is full of irony. And, I was expecting this type of feedback.

      I respect your opinion, AND I’ve never called myself a self-help guru.

      And, “taking money from people?” I prefer exchanging value to that terminology. Life is all about exchanging value, whether you’re buying a car or services.

      And, since you’ve never taken part in one of my programs, I know it’s difficult for you to understand the experience. But, my society ladies, especially (since we travel together), are given the VIP treatment that goes beyond mentorship.

      I use my experiences and expertise (I was a nurse for 13 years, have an extensive education and tools) to inspire women to live a beautiful life, not by marketing to them like they’re broken but by undoing everything that tells them they are.

      Phony? Well, again, that’s your opinion. I respect it, but completely disagree.

      Au revoir!

      • @Barry. I completely understand your point of view and agree to a certain extent, i.e. “irony” “self-help guru” and “money.” I don’t find Tanya to be “phony” and do find that she does put her unique spin on her brand of “self-help,” which I appreciate and enjoy. Yes, she does take “money” from clients who want to buy her brand of Paris inspired “self-help.” It’s a fair exchange between proprieter and client, which is the same exchange between client and therapist/coach/mentor/teacher/guru. I enjoy Tanya’s post and have employed many of her suggestions in my own life with great success. I will admit that every once in awhile I feel like she’s trying just a bit too hard, which i suppose can lead one to think/feel she’s “phony.” Again, it’s not an opinion that I share.

        Thanks for your honesty without all the unnecessary bitchiness. As a reader and blog follower, I appreciate the opinions of others, especially when they’re not totally aligned with my own.
        ~R

        • Hi Rosie,

          Thanks for weighing in and offering your thoughts on this matter.

          Like you, I welcome opinions. It’s what makes life interesting.

  5. Kudos. I believe this is your most enlightened, substantial, and truly beautiful post yet. One needs to experience, feel all of the positive and negatives that exist for them. See what is directly in front of their eyes and mind. Find the good and beautiful if you do not see it, look harder. Again kudos Tonya!

  6. Hi Tonya,
    As you know, for years I’ve helped women accept where they are and learn to Stand Tall where they’re planted.
    You’ve been reading my mind. 🙂
    I’ve never been a fan of self-help arenas that advocate the next big fix over just getting out there and living the life you’ve landed in TodaY! while dreaming, planning and stepping towards the LiFe that is calling you forward.
    thanks for lending your voice to a non-limiting belief that is Alive and Well and Growing, Glowing forward.
    Good on You!
    Dawn

  7. This post came at the perfect time as I am about to leave for a girls weekend retreat to celebrate my beautiful cousin and her up coming wedding in the South of France.
    I can already feel myself unwinding knowing I’ll be surrounded by amazing women on a beautiful serene lake without social media distractions!
    I have to say that I love the audio option and I applaud your very gracious response to the ‘phony’ comment above.

    • Oh…the South of France, one of my favorite places on the planet.

      Enjoy every moment!

      As for the “phony” comment, perhaps some do perceive me that way. Oh well…can’t please everyone, can we?

      xoxo

  8. Tonya,

    This post is brilliant with a capital B. It totally sums up why your classes and offerings and wisdom have made such a TREMENDOUS difference in all areas of my life. Don’t get me wrong, as a coach I know that we have invaluable tools and perspectives to offer people. However, it did seem like it was all about ‘fixing’ and getting better and constant striving and improving. So didn’t feel good. I have a hunch that’s why it’s been challenging to truly ‘launch’ my business. We just all need a whole lot more fun, laughter, lightness and joie de vivre. Now, I’m off to jump on my neighbor’s trampoline. Merci Beaucoup amazing inspiring gorgeous lady. xoxoxox

  9. Tonya

    Love your post today, it’s Brilliant!

    I believe life is meant to be experienced, we’re so busy doing and not being. And unfortunately, I see us (women) not listening to what we as individuals need to satisfy ourselves. Sometimes, too busy listening to others, when it would be more powerful to tap into ourselves to see what would best serve us at the time.

    On a personal note – even though I’m in business for myself, what I’ve learned is I’m a better person when I slow down, enjoy life, and get away from my computer and totally DISCONNECT; and tap into my life on a more personal way.

    I also believe it’s bigger than a personal development issue, I see this “behavior” in all aspects of our culture now.

    Tonya, continue to be you and voice your truth!

    Have a beautiful weekend.

    Laynita

    • Hi Laynita,

      Keep slowing down and savoring. I’ve learned that it only catapults my business in the most beautiful direction.

  10. Tonya,
    Very well said and I’m glad you did.

    As a coach, I am exposed to the vast array of programs, quick fixes and advice in this Self Help industry. It’s like a religion. Do this and you will get to the promised land. Fix this and you will get to the promised land.

    In the past, I too, wasted so much time trying to fix a problem that never existed. Meanwhile, my kids played without me, sunsets came and went without me seeing them and interests were put on hold until after “the answer to my problem that never existed” was found.

    I am now committed to believing there is nothing wrong with me, nothing needs to be fixed in me or anyone else. I believe in your message that life is meant to be lived with pleasure and joy. Like you, I teach my clients to drop the story that they are broken so that they can live full out. This is indeed still valuable, as many do not know this.

    Love to you and all you stand for!
    Jodi

    • Thanks so much Jodi.

      And, I think a lot of us in this industry have been there, and there’s a slow awakening.

      Keep doing your fabulous work. It’s so needed!

  11. Oh, Tonya!! You did it again. Every post you write I print out so I can read them over and over again!! This one especially, is just SO refreshing and a journey I’m currently on – detoxing from self-help and social media. I truly believe, 100%, with what you’re saying. I, too, was a self-help junkie and I can still find myself being pulled to it everyday. I almost started my business around self help, but after becoming a mom everything began to change for me. I started realizing that I didn’t want to teach self help because I was connecting with everything you’re saying here. I also know that I need to get out more and LIVE life.

    I’m SO over trying to fix myself. Once I get back on the internet, I get pulled back into trying to fix myself. This is WHY I love following you!! You truly give me permission to step back and really think how i can LIVE my life with more passion fun!! I truly believe this IS how life is supposed is supposed to be lived. we’re all beautiful…and perfect just the way the way we are…something I’m trying to focus on more.

    And, I’ll tell ya…all that self help…i feel it made me worse off in the end. because now i’m analyzing my life more and if something isn’t right I can beat myself up for it and think i have so many problems and i need major fixing, which, really, is SO not true!! thank you for sharing this message!! it’s SO GREAT!! and SO needed!!!!

    • Renee,

      Yep…all that analyzing will drive a girl crazy, right?

      Like anything, I think everything in moderation.

      However, it sounds like you have an awareness. That’s a beautiful thing!

  12. Hi Tonya! I also really needed and loved reading this!

    I have been doing a coaching certification course since the beginning of the year and have set up my business – now I’m finding I’m spending all my time online and not enough in the real world. And it can feel like never being ‘off’ because of posting on social media.

    I value creativity, beauty, joy, pleasure and presence and this is what I’m building my business around. However, at the moment I’m not embodying it enough. I love reading literature and have a passion for writing. I recently completed my first novel, which took me about 4 years to complete but I loved my life when I had less money from teaching part-time but was creatively lit up and had the time to do things like make birthday cards or ride my bike in the afternoon.

    Being an expat here in Lucerne, Switzerland, I have to make that extra effort to have a life with actual friends. This was another reminder to get out there and LIVE.

    So thank you once again! xxx

  13. This post so spoke to me. I’m learning at work to not get upset/angry at the things out of my control. I just do the best I can at my job that is within the limits of my system. I’ve started listening to fiction now via my iPhone on road trips and while gardening instead of another self help book.

    Yesterday, I am home so tired from work and didn’t want to do the group bike ride I had signed up for. Realized I was looking at it from a “I need to do this” exercise view. Then I reminded myself that the reason I enjoy bicycling is the feel of the wind on my skin and watching the neighborhood zip by from a different angle than my car. And the new people I have met in my small group that I am enjoying getting to know. Total change from “I have to do this” to sensual enjoyment of I want to do this.

    More real life! Less this is what “you need to do or fix to have a life” approach.

  14. I am so glad that you posted this gain Tonya. It was balm to my soul that was feeling weighed down by it all. Yes, I want to build a business that sustains 6 figures, but I also want the journey there, the growth t be done with ease. To French Kiss Life right now. To be vulnerable and softened to life. To be the fullest expression of the love that makes up who I am. Thank you for this reminder.

  15. First, let me say that I love this post! I can connect with everything you say in this piece and it’s filled with honest awesomeness! Tonya, what you offer women is invaluable, necessary, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air. 🙂 This is the way I see it………Think of the whole “self-help” arena as the fitness or health and wellness arena. In fitness, health and wellness, there are bazillions of people who want to improve their health and physiques, right? And each of those people need to explore different avenues that will help motivate them into action to get the results that they desire. Let’s say that you find a class that you like, join, commit and find success. Hooray! At some point though, you are likely to become slightly bored of the class because you have mastered the routine. You may even plateau in your fitness goals because you have mastered the routine. What you must do in this situation is move on to the “next level” of your training. This is where you will find the challenges you need.

    Self-help is similar in nature. We gravitate towards the books, gurus, webinars etc. that we connect with and that will motivate us to learn the tools and strategies to become our best selves. There will come a point when we have learned as much as we can from the constant intake of info and we will need to change gears….end the information gathering and actually start to LIVE what we have learned. Your community provides a beautiful space to put what we have learned into practice! The French Kissed Life is the place you can move on to when you need to start owning your decisions and realize how amazing you really are. 🙂 Your mentorship is incredibly valuable in that you have successfully worked through what you have learned and then CREATED a wonderful way to help others get straight to the good stuff in self development. Just my two cents! <3

  16. I can’t say enough how relieved I am to have come across your blog this evening…and this post in particular! I’ve been feeling the stress of business ratcheting up over the last few years and am ready to leap off of the ‘gerbil wheel’. Self-help detox is the first thing…and the ideas discussed here in this post have already taken so much tension out of my neck….(and my shoulders out of my ears!). I’m looking forward to finding out more through your posts! Merci!

  17. Wow, this is exactly what I’ve needed. I’ve always been interested in how to live with more elegance and ease like the people of Paris. I’m only 22 and I recently moved to a huge, wealthy city from a small town. While it was very inspiring at first, I got quickly caught up in the push push push mentality to get into the best university possible, pile on the courses and get straight A+’s, find a great job immediately, etc etc, and for awhile I was. Then the burn out hit – I felt so exhausted. I longed to have more simplicity and elegance, and realized that mentality is so NOT what I want for my life. Of course I have goals, but I want to enjoy the ride of life with beautiful food, wine, music, and art as well. I wondered if I was crazy for thinking this way until I discovered this site. It’s so inspiring (and a relief) to find someone who verbalizes everything in my head in a way that makes sense. Thank you so much xx

    • Welcome Jenessa, and what a great age to have such a profound awareness! I believe the journey to the dream should be as beautiful as the dream itself. Remember, to make time for the simple luxuries and everything will fall into place! xoxo

  18. I love this post. Personal development is fabulous, but to me, I think self-help is slightly different.

    In my eyes, self-help is very DIY. You know, read this book, start doing all of the mental exercises everyday at 6 AM, and you’ll find inner peace. So basically for the cost of the book and using your inner morning drill sergeant alarm clock, you’ll get there.

    Whereas personal development is kinda anything that develops one personally. So for you, Tonya, you’ve talked about going to sommelier school. Pretty sure it wasn’t the price of a book (and I think everyone would expect to invest more in doing that, I might add 🙂 ), and you didn’t have to drag yourself out of bed at 6 AM to meditate and journal about all of the wines you *thought* about drinking, and the “bad” thoughts you had about wines you weren’t sure you’d like before you’d tried them. Thoughts are important. And so is experimentation. And having a school to guide you through learning about wine is key, because they led you into a rich experience. And that to me is the difference between self-help and personal development. So, like, therapy is personal development, but it is not self-help at all, although one does have to be engaged and willing in the process to get positive results.

    I loooove personal development. Another book on “how to do life in 7 easy steps”? I’ll pass.

    • Julie, I am so on board with your way of developing personally. Your sommelier school comparison was genius. Nope, I never journaled a bad thought about wine, but I have journals full of wine notes. Does that count? xoxo

  19. I totally loved this piece. I recently resigned a position at the hospital due to ethics conflicts. They were really big on professional as well as personal development. I was or thought I was professionally happy. I didn’t want to be a CEO or anything more, but they pushed expanding my horizons. I am all about learning and growing, but to put a 5 year plan in Excel format was a bit much! I am 4 days into a new job…Office Manager of my husbands chiropractic clinic. I have a fulfilling job, purpose and life! We work 3 days a week so every day is either a Monday or Friday! With ski season upon us…yes, I am a happy happy girl! Muah!😘❤️😘

    • Hi Tonya,
      Talk about serendipity! I was feeling that I was having a ‘wasted day’ – doing very little, no journaling, no ‘high value’ activities like the gym or chores.
      Your post made me realise: I had my hair done, I shopped at a local fishmongers for fresh local Dover sole and squid, which we will eat this evening after a glass (or more!) of prosecco.
      Wasted day? NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY. Thank you for adding bliss to rest. A well deserved, well earned rest, at that.
      Thank you

  20. Tonya, I’m so grateful for this breath of fresh air post! Whatever I undertake next,whether it be to retire, or coach , or write a book, I want it to progress organically based on elegance vs the new extremes the gurus are insisting I go to these days. Thank you!

  21. I really needed to read this post! It’s my day off and I’m struggling to just be! My workaholic attitude is weighing heavy on my heart. Every fiber of my being is screaming ” Tonya has nailed it” just reading her words has brought on a bit of anxiety! I know that I’m on the right path following her light. What a gift 💖

  22. Thank you dear Tonya for reminding me in your own fun, sweet and honest way … stop “trying” and start “living”! I think this is my favorite FLK post of all time. love you! 💋

  23. Dear Tonya, this resonates with me on such a deep level as I exhausted myself with reading the recommend 10 pages a day of self-help books, listened to 30 mins of audio, woke up2 hours earlier to partake in ‘Miracle Morning even on weekends! I was soul destroyed to tell you the truth. I had signed up to a Network Marketing thing which encouraged continuous self-improvement through daily tasks such as vision board, mantras etc I hated every second of it. Your post was so refreshing and wonderful and reflected exactly how I felt about the industry. Thank you so much xoxo

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