Michelle Kelley

Through in-person and phone counseling, workshops and speaking engagements, Michelle Kelley, owner of Girls Stand Strong, teaches girls and women of all ages the skills they need to lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Michelle Kelley's professional expertise, personal insights and proven results will help you end your emotional and social struggles and build a life filled with self-empowerment, self-confidence and the healthy relationships that you deserve.

1-Minute Read: Be Your Best Self

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OK, but how?  Don’t we all want to be our best selves?  Yet do we really know what this means?  Well, I believe it means something different for every woman and every girl.

This past Sunday, I was feeling down and self-critical about my parenting and my work.  I had a list of everything I was doing wrong.  I could feel myself slipping into this familiar hole of self-doubt.  My youngest daughter was sitting at the kitchen table and so I shared this with her.  I know that many moms feel the pressure to keep their struggles from their children, but I like to think that sharing my humanness can be beneficial to my daughters.  

After spewing my negative thoughts, my daughter said “Mom, you thinking you’re not a good mom is an insult to me.  How could a bad mom have raised such a wonderful daughter?”  That got my attention.  I also liked the double-compliment in her comment; it was fine that she complimented herself too.

You see, this all started when I tried to write a blog post for my newsletter and bake muffins at the same time.  Well, I had writer’s block and my muffins were undercooked and my daughter found my hair (I hope it was mine) in her muffin.  That’s all it took for me to start spinning into my negative downward spiral.

Side note:  I hate to cook and consequently can feel like a “bad” mother because June Cleaver always baked 🙂 but she did not run a business and was not a single mother.

I share this with you because we are all human and we are all trying to be our best selves.  Trying means we are on our path and conscious about it.  Let’s keep trying at every stage and every turn.

If you are not happy with yourself today, then ask WHY?  

  • What is it that you need to do differently?
  • Do you need to set a new goal?
  • Do you need to re-adjust your expectations?

So for me on Sunday, I pulled myself together and left the house.  I spent several hours getting out of my own head and stopping my downward spiral.  Today as I write this it is Monday; it is a new day and my goal is to be my best self TODAY.  If I fall short, I will be kind to myself and try again tomorrow.

What about you?

 


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Go into your POWER not your wounds.

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In my last article I talked about emotional wounds and “Woundology“. This time I want to focus on our ability to tap into our strengths and our personal power.

How often do we hear the question, “How are you today?” Do we ever hear a response like “I’m great; feeling strong, talented and blessed”? Probably not. Our culture does not support this kind of talk. As a matter of fact, we will get more support and validation if we lead with our wounds and our pain.

For women especially, it is easy to connect with our ‘lack’ mentality… I’m not good enough, she is better at that, I could never do that, etc. In other words, we can easily connect with what we are not doing well.

Doesn’t this seem backwards?

How about if we all decided to own our strengths, our talents and our accomplishments? Imagine that. Imagine the message we would send our daughters and others watching.

The truth is our emotional wounds can help us tap into our power. Oftentimes we build personal power as we move through these wounds.

My personal power really started to show up when I went through my own divorce. It was the most empowering time in my life. It was also scary and confusing, but I was able to take care of myself both physically and emotionally so that I could tap into my power. Now it gives me great joy to help other women and girls to find their personal power and use it wisely. This is what I call EMPOWERING.

If you think you don’t have it in you, you are wrong. We all have personal power.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Do you suffer from Woundology?

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Woundology, as I define it, is the attachment to our emotional wounds in life. We all have them. None of us made it through childhood without emotional wounds and scars.

Some common childhood wounds could be:

  • experiencing favoritism
  • neglect & abuse
  • physical illness
  • being bullied
  • witnessing or experiencing any kind of trauma
  • family addictions
  • family mental illness

Wounds could even be from a traumatic experience as a young adult and not necessarily a childhood experience. While some of these can be easily worked through, others may take much longer.

So where does Woundology come in? Woundology is when you over identify (i.e. stay stuck) in your wounds.

There is strong energy surrounding wounds… but this is stuck energy. It can follow you for a lifetime and interfere with work, relationships and life fulfillment. This inhibits your ability to fully enjoy your life and reach your personal goals.

You can get out of the Woundology trap.

As always, the first step is to acknowledge what your emotional wounds are. Personally, I have found this to be very helpful. I am learning to see everything in life as having a purpose, and maybe the purpose is figuring out how to move beyond the experience.

I know this is not easy but it is doable. If this exercise feels too difficult or painful, then you will need to reach out and get support from a professional.

My heart aches for anyone experiencing pain, trauma or abuse in their lifetime. I recognize the importance of truly listening to someone’s life story. There is powerful healing in listening. I volunteer at our local free clinic and one day as I was completely present and listening to a young man’s life story, he shared with me that no one has ever done that before. He didn’t want the session to end. I was truly interested and felt compassion for him. This is the healing part.

Be kind to yourself. This is your life to live and I want you to live it fully.

By the way, I am on my journey of understanding and knowing myself better, too.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: STOP Treating Thoughts as Threats

Many of us, myself included, easily become frightened, confused and anxious by our thoughts. I do notice that women in particular tend to “catastrophize” in their thinking. They jump to a worse-case scenario without realizing it and are off and running with out-of-control thoughts and emotions. Most are not aware of this… and that is dangerous.

My daughter is usually pretty good at pointing out to me when I am “freaking out” over something. Often times it is a perceived safety situation and I am panicking. She will remind me that we are okay and that there is no reason to panic. She is usually correct and when I check in with my thoughts I realize that my thinking script is saying “Cautious, you are not safe…  time to panic”. This is so automatic for me. Now I am learning to catch myself before I react and I can even calm myself down and prevent a meltdown between my daughter and me. She just doesn’t understand why I react the way I do (there is a reason but that’s another story).

If you don’t think your thoughts scare or otherwise affect you… think again. Your thoughts might be saying:

  • I can’t to this
  • That only works for others
  • If he leaves, my life will be over
  • My body will never be what I want it to be
  • I will be alone and lonely forever

Those are scary thoughts! They need to be changed.

  1. Step #1 – Be aware of your thoughts.  Pay attention to what you are thinking. I want you to take charge of your thoughts and it begins here.
  2. Step #2 – Notice the connection between your thoughts and your emotions.  We tend to get overly attached to our thoughts.  Just like in my previous newsletter, your thoughts are not facts either. Feelings come from thoughts.
  3. Step #3 – If you do not like your thoughts, change them. Challenge yourself to change your thoughts — at least to something more realistic. Consciously thinking “I feel lonely right now, but this will change” or “I won’t know if I can do this until I give it a try; what can I do to make it work?” Or “What can I take charge of in my life to create a life I love?” Thinking this way will lift you, not drag you down.

Please contact me at michelle@girlsstandstrong.com or 703-505-2413 if you would like some one-on-one time to practice identifying bad thoughts and changing them. I’d love to help you!

Wishing you well on your journey.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Feelings are NOT Facts!

1 minute read - feelings are not factsA common mistake I see people make is that they assume their feelings are facts. Yet feelings change throughout a day and certainly throughout a lifetime.

For example, if you are feeling particularly sad, do not assume that you are necessarily depressed or that you will be sad forever. However, if this feeling of sadness has been around for a while you will likely need some professional help to assess what you are dealing with and how to feel better.

Whether your emotion is anger, frustration, disgust, anxiety or even happiness — do not get overly attached to that emotion. It will change. It is NOT you. It is an emotion you are experiencing…for a reason. Get curious about it.

Ask yourself:

  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • What is this emotion telling me?
  • Is there something I need to do different?

The goal is to understand your emotions and the message they are sending you. You do not want your emotions to be the boss of you. You want to be the boss – empowered!

This happens when you learn how to:

  • Accept your emotions without judgment (mindfulness)
  • Manage your emotions in a positive way

Of course, this takes practice. It is also a process which I teach women and girls as part of living life with integrity and self-awareness.

Please contact me at michelle @ girlsstandstrong.com or 703-505-2413 when you are ready to take this step.

Remember…Your feelings are NOT facts. They are merely pointing you in the direction where you may need to do some personal growth work.

Wishing you well on you journey!

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

1-Minute Read: How do I talk about it?

1Minute-Read-How-do-IDo you have any idea how many women – just like youfind it difficult to talk about their struggles, their hurts, their perceived failures, their damaged relationships, or their deep emotions like sadness and anger? A lot. You are not alone. Many of my clients struggle in this area.

I get it. It’s not light-discussion time.

  • Maybe you don’t know how to bring up the topic.
  • Maybe you’re dealing with a trust issue.
  • Maybe you do not want to burden someone.

How do you talk about personal things and feel okay about it?

The language of emotions and clear communication is a powerful combination. This is a learned skill and a necessary one. It’s what we women need in order to feel confident in today’s world. Women who are connected with their feelings and can advocate for themselves are happier.

This is a process that usually starts in childhood – but if you did not get it then, it’s never too late. I teach girls and women how to do this.

Is it your time to learn how to talk about the more private side of your life? You’ll be surprised at how relieved you will feel.

Please email me or 703-505-2413. I would love to hear from you.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

1-Minute Read: Did you make your bed today?

Did you make your bed3Making your bed may seem like a small thing to you, but never underestimate the power of focusing on your small accomplishments. I do make my bed most days. I pay attention to how I feel after my bed is made. I take pride in a pretty bed. I take pride in my home and my office looking nice. Do you?

When we were children it was our small successes that were celebrated: our first step, putting our toys away, sleeping in our own beds. There is great value in going back to this way of thinking. I believe we would all be a lot happier if we could genuinely feel proud of our efforts and the small tasks in our life.

Here is the point: We cannot always accomplish big things (at first) and even focusing on the larger accomplishments can be overwhelming or paralyzing.

  • So instead of looking ahead at how much more you need to do, how about looking at your accomplishments and celebrating the MOMENT? In the spirit of mindfulness (click here to read my latest magazine article), try bringing your focus on TODAY, THIS MOMENT. What are you proud of? What can you celebrate? Maybe it’s just getting out of bed or maybe you had the courage to leave a toxic relationship.
  • Then take notice of how you feel when you accomplish something small such as making your bed, doing the dishes, washing your car (meaning driving through a car wash for me), helping your child with their homework or cleaning the dreaded toilet.

I find that women in particular find it difficult to celebrate the “little stuff”, to pat ourselves on the back, to say “Yay me”. Our culture does not support this way of thinking but I do.

If you would like some help in learning how to retrain your brain to celebrate your successes and experience a wonderful new outlook on life, please contact me at michelle@girlsstandstrong.com or 703-505-2413. I would love to hear from you.

Here’s to making your bed today (or tomorrow). Try it and see how you feel.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

1-Minute Read: 5 Rules to Healthy Arguing

5 rules 2You might be thinking “Healthy arguing?! What is this woman talking about?” It’s the art of managing how you conduct yourself during a disagreement or argument which proves to be beneficial to everyone involved.

So, as promised in my previous newsletter, here are the rules to healthy arguing.

  1. Choose your setting. You should have a say so as to when and where you are while you talk about something important or emotional. It is okay to say “I am not in a calm place to be discussing this, can we talk tonight after the children are asleep”?

  2. Set time limits. My suggestion is that an intense argument should not last longer than 30 or 45 minutes, but you will need to figure out what works best for you. It’s okay to end a discussion (for the moment) and return to it at another time — even if nothing has been resolved. Sometimes it is not easy to identify a start point and an end point. Arguing is a process.

  3. Have realistic expectations. When you sit down to discuss an issue, be clear that you may not come to an agreement or resolve the issue. I realize that many people prefer to have an argument resolved. I do not think that resolving an issue during the first debate is the goal. It is the hope. Being heard and communicating effectively is a more realistic goal. There is great value in knowing how to lovingly hold the tension in a relationship — even when you haven’t solved an issue.

  4. Use “I statements” (often). This means speak with your feelings and own them. For example, “I feel hurt when you accepted the dinner invitation without checking with me.” It’s harder for someone to argue with how you feel… and how you feel is valid — ALWAYS. The idea here is to avoid the blame game which is a common trap in an argument.

  5. Speak respectfully. This should be self-explanatory but just to be sure… no put-downs or cut-ups. No finger-pointing. No throwing or breaking things. Expect this from your partner also.

I know this seems easier said than done, so if you would like to roll-play let me know and I’ll be happy to help.


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

1-Minute Read: Over-thinking something in your relationship?

over thinking2Chances are if you’re a female (and if you’re reading this, you most likely are) then you have experienced the agonizing frustration of over-thinking an issue or an argument. But how do you know if you are over thinking? If you could stop, wouldn’t you?

My experience in working with girls and women has shown me that we tend to over think an issue or argument in a relationship for the purpose of understanding what just happened. Yet understanding what is REALLY going on in your relationship is a learned skill.

• Most people only look at the surface issue in an argument. What is more important is the pattern of arguing in your relationship or how you conduct yourself when you argue (i.e. are you following the rules to healthy arguing? Is your partner?). For more information on the rules of healthy arguing, please look for my next newsletter.

Notice how much time you spend on figuring out why you are upset in your relationship. While I understand you really aren’t going to know exactly how much time you spend “over thinking”, my guess is that it is more time than you realize or you would want. What else could you do with the extra time and energy?

We women are masters at wasting time over-thinking and we wonder why we are so tired!! This is where working with a counselor can help you to pinpoint the core issue and give you the thinking skills to gain clarity, communicate your feelings and needs, and move on.

Please don’t struggle with this on your own. I’m here and I’d love to help you. Contact me by email or phone and let’s work through this.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

1-Minute Read: What’s happening to me? Why am I always upset?

recite-vxonc8Ever feel this way? I’m sure you have. We all have.

I know from experience (and from my clients) that when this happens, it can be very scary. If we are lucky, we may know what’s upsetting us (and I’m not minimizing this) but often times we have no clue.

Possibly we have learned how to minimize our own feelings. Oddly enough, many of us have been repeatedly told that we make a big deal out of nothing. Yet my experience with women is that often times we take something that should be a big deal and make it into nothing. Why?

We women are masters at minimizing our feelings and relationship struggles. Is this because we think we can deal with anything that comes our way? Or is it because our mothers always appeared to handle everything? Or is it something else? It’s no different than the instinct of an animal in the wild hiding its weaknesses or injuries so they’re not perceived as pray .

No matter the reason why, we internalize our feelings in an attempt to minimize them. But this backfires and bubbles to the surface. We feel anxious, irritable and upset all the time and snap at the slightest pressure to seemingly unrelated things. We know it, but we can’t stop it.

So what should you do?

Start by identifying your feelings. When and how often are you feeling upset? Is it when you are around a particular person on in a certain situation (groups)?

Do not place any judgment in this area. Remember, this is all just information gathering.

Validate your feelings. You ARE upset for a reason.

Do not let anyone else minimize how you feel once you’ve identified the cause. That will only make you feel crazy and contribute to anxiety and depression.

Next step… contact me and I will work with you to help you understand your emotions as well as your situation. Then, together, we can make a plan for moving forward and managing your emotions.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

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Testimonials

I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I left your office so inspired today.
...
AnnaMay
To say Michelle changed our lives would not be an exaggeration. She was very empathetic and non-judgmental... She didn't make our daughter feel badly... She didn't make my husband and myself feel like incompetent parents.
...
Linda
I definitely owe my newfound confidence to Michelle. Without her, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to come out of my horrible situation as such a better version of myself.
...
Grace
People don't understand Michelle doesn’t just offer advice… which they seem to be afraid of hearing. I convey the message that the decisions you make are ultimately your own but Michelle will help you find clarity and sort through emotions.
...
Chris
We felt comfortable knowing that Michelle would be the kind of counselor that would help our daughter see the good in herself, but also question some of her choices and actions.
...
Patricia
You have brought back the communication ability that I thought that I lost. You helped her understand what we were feeling and she is such a better person for seeing you.
...
Maggie
Michelle, you are so right about [my daughter] and how she thrives off of feelings of accomplishment. All seems to be good now. She amazes me every day with the way she is learning to handle tough situations.
...
Cynthia
With Michelle’s guidance, I was able to accomplish in approximately 8 months what I hadn’t been able to over the past 15 years.
...
Elizabeth
I am forever grateful for Michelle's help.
...
Anne
Thank you, Michelle, for giving me my voice and a new lease on life.
...
Nancy
Retired Arlington County Teacher
She helped me focus my attention toward problem-solving issues.
...
Laura Clancy, Owner
MuffinToppled® Fitness Coaching
Michelle is the best life coach I ever had.
...
Marina
Michelle is an excellent listener and her insights and advice were always right on target.
...
Ann
(mother of a teen girl)
She helped me in so many ways!
...
Kelly
Michelle Kelly saved my life. What more can I say?
...
Stephanie W.

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