The One Choice I Make Every Morning

Emily Nolan and Chloe Elgar by Mary Beth Koeth

New Story

A couple weeks ago, I spent an incredible, long weekend in Santa Fe with Gail Larsen, my Transformational Speaking coach. I love public speaking and sharing my stories related to doubt and self-worth, but what you may not know, is the act of speaking truthfully completely drains me. It feels like I pour everything out for everyone else, and leave nothing to nourish myself. It’s depleting and feels unsustainable. After I speak, I make like a bear in hibernation and catch some much needed Zs. I have to peel my eyelids open to find my hotel room.

I’ve always wondered why this intense exhaustion was happening to me? Was everyone’s experience of public speaking this way?

Gail commented, “Emily, I’m worried that your speaking doesn’t feel sustainable. I’m wondering why you feel like you have no energy left?”

I polled the small but mighty group of women I was studying with, “Does anyone else feel completely drained?” They all said they felt fine. No one felt like they had a massive energy dump. Just me.

Gail suggested an exercise for all of us, which was my key takeaway from the entire immersion. She asked, “What’s your main persona when you speak? Why?” I answered, “I’m a thinker. An intellectual. And why is a great question. I’m an over-achieving university graduate with a modeling background and I want to establish myself as an intellectual woman. Because I am.”

“Because I am,” was like saying, “Eureka!” It gave me all the permission–or realization–I needed to let go of needing to be so analytical, to being the thinker when I’m speaking.

Gail Larsen Transformational Speaking

Gail asked the next question, “If you could not be the main persona you share in your speeches–the thinker–what persona would you pick? What persona do you use today, in your new story, that you might not be using in your speeches?”

My partner and I decided I could add my playfulness in to my speaking, which, to be honest, made me feel like open eyes in a pitch black room. I was aware I needed to add playfulness, but I couldn’t grasp the thought of turning my pain story and self-doubt into something playful. It was painful for goodness sakes!

What I was realizing was, my old pain story did not have to be my new story. I forgave myself and gave myself the permission to feel joy when speaking about my new story–my transformation.

So I tried “playful” in a speech, which quickly turned into a hilarious improvised skit. I had my shirt off half way through the speech, standing in jeans and a bra impersonating myself as if I were a cartoon. “I just want to give a speech where I don’t have to take my shirt off in front of an audience.” I was having so much fun and transferring that immense joy to my audience. We were all laughing.

You know when you’re hiking and you see the peak, and you finally get there, just to realize there’s a peak above the peak, you just couldn’t see it before? Dang it! This was one of those moments. I thought I transformed years ago, and yet there was still a higher peak to reach. I was thrilled to climb this high.

My old story and new story have transformed. I see how jumping off the perpetual pain story wagon was another moment of transformation. I also see how many of us choose to stay on this train, because we feel comfortable drinking the Haterade when everyone’s drinking it.

I’m asking you to be #BePrettyBrave with me. Everyday when you wake up, you have the choice to feel stuck in your old story, or to bravely choose a new one. A new story that’s lighter and full of joy.

Our new stories don’t have to be crappy. They can be fun! We can use the old crappy stories as fertilizer for the growth and playfulness of our new stories. Our old stories didn’t work out, so let them go, or use them as a tool. But don’t attach your identity to them, because you’re the person you are today, not then.

We all have pain stories–whether it’s body image, relationships, sexual abuse, suicide, addiction, money–and we all have the choice to get stuck in them, or jump off that high-speed train to gather another perspective of the story.

I jumped off the high-speed crap train and can now watch it–derail?– from a safe distance. I have a new perspective that I never had before. New stories, new peaks, new mornings, new choices. Be Pretty Brave.

Kind Contributor Emily Nolan

Emily Nolan is a professional model, teacher and founder of nonprofit, TOPLESS yoga, a globally recognized empowerment event used as a tool for practicing radical self-acceptance. Emily hosts The Hum, a women’s fellowship retreat which emphasizes listening to our Hum within. Through her mission-based work, Emily has sparked a global conversation around body image.

Nolan is currently writing her first book, Pretty Brave.

Find Emily Nolan at @iamemilynolan //

Join Emily on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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this kinda rocks!
oh darling, indulge a little