Women

1-Minute Read: Holiday Stress Getting to You?

HOLIDAY STRESSSometimes I think that the holiday stress is now in my DNA.  What about you?  After years of having stressful holiday moments, is it possible that I anticipate the stress without checking into the reality of my holiday situation?  Probably! Just the thoughts of all those gifts I think I should buy and all of those things on my “to do” list I think I should do are what really stresses me out.

Think about what stresses you out.  Actually spend some time writing down where your stress comes from (out-of-town guests, cooking, cleaning, finances, kids, etc.)  As is often the case, our stress swims around in our heads creating a mild (or not so mild) type of anxiety.  This frequently triggers a chain reaction of stress = anxiety = snapping = arguing = fighting.  You know the routine.

My suggestion is to become super mindful about this process.  Talking to a calm friend or counselor can help you to identify stressors, triggers and patterns in behavior and thought – all good information. Change follows awareness and it starts with our thoughts.  

If you would like some help in breaking old patterns of thoughts and behavior, I would love to hear from you. This is a great process to acknowledge with your children.  It’s a gift that never stops giving.

Wishing you peaceful moments during this holiday season!


 

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: The Confidence Gap

One-Minute Read-The Confidence GapResearch shows that females are less confident than males.  In my book, confidence is as important as competence.

I was not confident as a child or a young adult.  I felt held back, frustrated, stuck, confused and hopeless at times.  I learned how to be confident through a winning combination of right-thinking and action.

It also helped having an awesome therapist who helped me navigate through difficult mental terrain and many challenging transition periods (such as school, marriage, parenting, divorce, business ownership). I continue to work with an awesome therapist because I’m certain there is more to come in my life where I will want and need her guidance.

How confident are you?

Why do you think you have shaky confidence (in certain areas)?

Do you know how to build your self-confidence?

I want to empower females to catch up to the guys in the area of CONFIDENCE.  We can do it!  

Need some support and guidance?  I would be happy to help you on your confidence 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: What your daughter needs most… is what you need most

1minute readGirls and women need more confidence.

  • With confidence a girl will be able to speak up for herself in school and with friends/boyfriends.
  • With confidence a woman will be able to ask for a raise or set appropriate boundaries in her relationships.

We’re not born with confidence.  We create it.

It comes from a tiny spark of confidence which we all have; it just needs fuel to grow. 

Confidence is often situation-specific.  However, if you have it in one area of your life, you can share it with other areas — such as from dancing to relationships.

“Relationship Confidence” is an essential part of your happiness.  My passion is helping women and girls build their confidence — especially their relationship confidence.

Interested in rating (and improving) your “Relationship Confidence”? We should talk.

 

 


 

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: It’s easy to fall in love but…

1Minute-Read-Its-easy-toRemember when you were planning your wedding, your future, and your entire life with the love of your life?  You were excited for your future and just knew you would live happily ever after!!!  But then… life happened. You got busy. You had kids.  He lost his job. You had a health crisis.  Your parents moved in.  The list could go on and on.

Unfortunately, many believe that if you really love each other then everything will just work out — easily.  Not so. It’s easy to fall in love but it’s not so easy to stay in love.

How do you talk to someone who you feel annoyed with because they keep leaving the toilet seat up or they never remember to wash the dishes? Or they talk to the TV more than they talk to you?  You used to want sex, but now…?  The way you used to discuss issues may have worked years ago, but not any longer.  What’s happened?

These are common scenarios in relationships.  Talking to someone when you are mad, hurt, angry, or confused is not easy.  You are likely to make the situation worse because you will be leading with your emotions.

It takes knowing what to say, when to say it and how to say it.  It takes knowing what to do when you don’t feel heard or see no real change.

It also takes really listening to your partner’s words without getting caught up in their attitude, defensiveness or lack of words.

Here is a tip:  When you are really upset, DON’T TALK.  It is ALWAYS okay to nicely state that you are not in a good place to talk right now.

Of course, you will need to set a time to discuss the situation later. Do not let it linger.  In the meantime, you will need to clear your head.  Talking to someone with an unbiased opinion can help you see the situation for what it really is.

Need to talk?  Please let me know.  I would love to coach you through your relationship struggles and communication speed bumps.

 


 

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: Have You Been Hurt in a Relationship?

recite-Hurt in a relationshipI have spent many years researching and trying to understand confusing, painful and difficult relationships.  I have had my share.  We all have.  I have challenging family relationships.  I have been divorced.  And yes, I have been hurt.

We will always have challenging people and relationships in our life.  Personalities and life experiences play a big part in all of our relationships.

Never underestimate the value of understanding what is really going on in a relationship… as well as your part.  Put some time into it.  This will assist you in moving on with your life — with or without the challenging person.  Sometimes a solution is as simple as learning how to create healthy boundaries.

There is no shortcut in dealing with a painful relationship.  It hurts.  You will cry.  You will be angry and scream “This is unfair!”  But in the end you will reclaim your peace of mind.  

Peace of mind is what I help women with.

If you or someone you know would like to help in reclaiming peace of mind after (or during) a hurtful relationship, please let me know.

We were created to feel empowered in all of our relationships.


 

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: Secrecy and Silence Keep Shame Alive

1 minute read-secrecy and silence keep shameShame is like arsenic to women.  It literally can destroy us from the inside out.  We can feel shame so deeply… and we are so good at hiding it. Secrecy and silence keep shame alive.

By now you know that I am an advocate of talking about the feelings we try so hard to hide.  Of course, we should be talking to someone we trust with our personal feelings.  Finding our safe place/safe person is essential to healing.  This is why women crave support groups and forums where we can share safely. This is where healing occurs.

I struggle with feelings of shame like many women.  Somewhere I got the message that I was supposed to be different, better (whatever that means).  I try to identify it, talk about it and release shame where I can.  Shame cannot exist with mindfulness and empathy.

Where does your shame come from?  

Mine started when I was in high school.  I felt shamed by the fact that I was not good at sports.  I felt shamed by my weight.  I felt shamed by my complexion.  I felt shamed because I could not talk confidently in front of others.  I felt shamed that I failed out of college my first year.  I felt shamed that I gained weight in college.  I felt shamed that I did not have an awesome career/job in my twenties.  I felt shamed of my age.  I felt shamed by my divorce.  I think that’s enough.  You get the picture.

You might think by this list that I am a complete mess.  Well, I am not.  I am like many women, maybe even you.  I embrace my faults and my insecurities.  I reach out for help.  Most importantly, I EMPOWER GIRLS AND WOMEN to know themselves, to be mindful and to create their path to move forward.

Sometimes being honest is refreshing.  Sometimes is scary.  Today it’s both.


 

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: 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.

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Testimonials

I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I left your office so inspired today.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Thank you, Michelle, for giving me my voice and a new lease on life.
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Retired Arlington County Teacher
She helped me focus my attention toward problem-solving issues.
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She helped me in so many ways!
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Kelly
Michelle Kelly saved my life. What more can I say?
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