Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


How to fall in love with yourself.

cardHow does one fall in love with oneself?

In my years of coaching, working with street teens, working in the homeless sector, learning what it means to live as ‘an artist’ of my own heart, running art programs, teaching story-telling and delving into the power of Love and writing about it, there is a common thread that runs through our psyches, no matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, how we’ve gotten to where ever we are at.


We are burdened with shame and gratitude depleted.

Brené Brown writes about shame. She studies it, researches it and expresses its debilitating effects with great clarity in her may books on the subject.

She writes:

“Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling.”

“Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”

“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.”

Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

We can be shame driven or heart full.

We can be shame full or heart driven.


We can be heart driven and heart full and in the fullness of living from our heart-centered wholeness, we can set ourselves free.

It’s all in where we put our attention. Whatever we put our attention on becomes stronger in our life.

When I focus on avoiding shame, my avoidance grows stronger giving shame little chance to flow free.

When I put my attention on how unworthy I am of love, how undeserving of grace or kindness or tender loving care, my story becomes all about how unworthy, undeserving I am. It also gives me an excuse not to change, not to face my fears and step through the threshold of my shame.

It is easier to hate myself when I’m constantly telling myself how much I hate myself, my life and the world around me. The story of why I have the right to feel this way, to tell myself this is true, is a powerful story. Staying connected to the story I’m telling myself, even when it hurts, is safer than letting it go.

Change your story. Change your life.

How do you fall in love with yourself?  Stop hating yourself.

Here’s an exercise.

  1. Go stand in front of a mirror and look into your eyes. (It’s okay. You can keep your clothes on. You’re looking into your eyes, not at your body – and it’s not about judging what you see. It’s about being open to looking in). Look deeply, yes deeply, into your eyes and repeat OUT LOUD 10x (slowly, breathing between each repetition) “I love you.” (repeat 10x) Remember — Keep your eyes open and look deeply within them, not at them.
  2. Breathe. Yes. Breathe. It’s okay. Telling yourself you love yourself is a good thing to do. It’s a place to start. Sure, you may feel silly, stupid, uncomfortable. You might even tell yourself ‘well, that’s a lie’. But, think about it. Is the statement “I love me” any different than “I hate me”?  You are your thoughts. If your thoughts are all about hating yourself, that will become what you believe to be the truth. So, start gently, lovingly, even if you’re afraid, by changing the message you tell yourself.
  3. Repeat many times, every day, until it comes as naturally as breathing. Eventually, dispense with the mirror. Just keep telling yourself, I Love You. I Love Me.

Think of the alternative. Do you want to tell yourself 10x in the mirror, “I hate you.”?  What if you chose instead to just love yourself, even within hating yourself?

Do you want to keep repeating out loud how small, useless, unworthy, undeserving you are?

Even if that feels like the truth, it’s not. It’s just your attention has been on hating yourself for so long, there’s been no room to allow the truth of Love to appear in your eyes.

And yes, I have most definitely simplified the process of falling in love with yourself. It is a journey, an adventure, a grand expedition to choose to fall in love with yourself, even when your mind is telling you ‘Well that’s dangerous. Don’t go there. You’ll get hurt. Let down. Betrayed. Destroyed….”

You have to begin somewhere. Why not here?

Loving yourself is not for sissies.

It’s for everyone. Each of us. All of us.

Loving yourself takes courage. Passion. Fortitude. Hope.

Loving yourself takes heart.




It’s not my fault! Can I blame you?

To get your week off to a thoughtful and loving start, I am sharing a video from RSA Animates.

Brené Brown on — Blame


The Value of Vulnerability — Guest blog

The first time I watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability was shortly after it appeared in 2010. I was hooked. Gave the link to my daughter. Shared it with everyone I know. Read, The Gift of Imperfection and recommended it with everyone I know.

Today, guest blogger, Ian Munro. shares the value of vulnerability in our lives — not only will it help lower stress, you’ll love yourself and your life a whole lot more!

Thanks Ian for sharing your light so graciously. Thanks for being so vulnerable!


The Value of Vulnerability

By Ian Munro

The holiday season is behind us and we are back to our normal work routine. It gave me pause to reflect back on the past several weeks. This year I worked through the break, having taken my vacation earlier in the year. Normally I would find working through the holidays somewhat burdensome but this year was totally different. I found myself using this slower time of the year to have some slow, meaningful conversations with people. With both time and some solitude as the office wasn’t very busy, these conversations often penetrated through a few layers of the normal office shields we wear to protect our essential selves. They were great connections, and I look at them now and see how uncommon it is for us to reveal the true nature of ourselves to each other, especially within a work environment.  To read the rest of Ian’s fabulous article, click here!


Vulnerability makes a difference

I recently read that there are three attributes ‘new’ leaders share. Courage. curiosity. Humility.

I think humility is part of ‘vulnerability’. And I believe a leader needs to be willing to be ‘vulnerable’. To let go of ‘I am right’ thinking and move into that place where they enter every situation with ‘beginner’s mind’ as Zen master Shunryu Suzuki  coined it. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Researcher, author, speaker, story-teller, Brene Brown says that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.

Yet, we numb vulnerability constantly. We stop up our fear, bottle it into a tiny brass container and bury it deep beneath our psyche in the hope no one will see or feel or sense its presence.

It doesn’t really matter if anyone else sees it because regardless of how hard we try to hide it, we  know it’s there. And it’s not going anywhere until we face it.

Opening up to fear, opening up to that place where we don’t have to appear perfect, or even close to it, takes courage. And it leaves us vulnerable.

Vulnerable, not in the ‘you are so weak, you coward you’, kind of thinking that we often associate with vulnerability, but rather in the ‘I am strong enough to be who I am in all my imperfections, and to love myself as who I am, beauty and the beast, light and dark, and to reveal myself without fear you will judge me as wanting and not enough’.

That’s vulnerability. That’s leadership. To allow yourself to fail knowing in your failure are the gifts of learning forward into the winds of adversity to find the path of knowing. Of seeing deeper into what it was that lead you to that point of knowing, ‘well this isn’t working, what’s next?’. That place where you trust there is a ‘next’ because the ‘mistake’ is just the next step into learning the answer. Into evolving into something more than anything you imagined or could conceive of until you were willing to let go of believing you knew it all.

I never knew what I was capable of until I stood at the edge of a river and couldn’t drown myself in the depths of my despair. In that moment of turning my back upon the waters calling me under, I knew love was deeper than anything I could imagine.

In that moment of sitting holding the hand of a dying homeless man, something I never imagined I would do, I discovered the truth of our connection. That in being here we have a sacred trust to take care of eachother, no matter how tenuous or thin our connection. We are all connected.

In standing in front of a group, telling my story of falling into the arms of love only to awaken to the horror of abuse, I find myself again and again coming back to the only answer that makes sense. Love.

Love is the answer. No matter the question. Love is the answer.

Loving myself. Loving you. Loving eachother. Loving life.

No matter the question. Love is the answer.

And when we let our courage draw us out into that place where we are willing to explore our vulnerability, where our curiosity opens us up to the depth and beauty of our being human, we let go of fear and fall with open arms into that place of surrender knowing, we are enough, just the way we are. And in our enoughness, we lead the way for others to become free of their fear of surrendering to Love.


I have watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability many times. I have shared it with many and share it with you today in the hopes you too find yourself opening up fearlessly into the light of knowing — you are enough. you are magnificent. There is no other quite like you because you are uniquely the gift you bring to this world. What a blessing you are!