Though she’s a best-selling author, a successful chef and a reality-TV star, Bethenny Frankel says she knows what it’s like to doubt herself and feel out of control — but she’s also figured out how to conquer the noise in her head that holds her back. In “A Place of Yes,” she reveals her 10 rules for getting unstuck, moving forward and getting everything you want out of life. Here is an excerpt:
Your noise, your voice
I first heard the term “noise” years ago, from Breck Costin, a life coach who teaches a course called Absolute Freedom, about how to clarify what you are doing with your life. He used the term in a different way, but it resonated for me. I’ve thought about it over the years since then, and developed the idea into something that works for me.
To me, noise is what gets in your way. It’s a self-generated obstacle, the negative talk inside your head that keeps you down, too afraid to go for what you want.
There are many types of noise, and in each chapter of this book, with each new rule, I’ll also talk about a specific kind of noise that tends to crop up along with that rule. Noise can come in many forms — food noise, money noise, beauty noise, relationship noise, family noise, call it what you will — each person develops personalized noise, but in general, noise is that feeling you get that you aren’t good enough, or you don’t deserve what you want, or you’ll never be able to be the person you wish you could be. Noise holds you back. It psychs you out. It distracts you and blocks you and makes you believe there are insurmountable obstacles in your path.Bethenny Frankel: I'm not sweating the lawsuit
Most of us have noise about something, but knowing this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be able to make it stop. If you have noise that you don’t recognize and can’t control, and I say to you, “All you have to do is come from a place of yes,” what you hear is, “All you have to do is quit your job and get a new one” or “All you have to do is eat less and exercise more” or “All you have to do is leave him” or “All you have to do is push this two-ton boulder up this mountain.” We all know that doesn’t work. It’s too hard. Noise makes it too hard.
You can’t do it because you don’t know how. You’re too overwhelmed. The noise in your own head is too loud. As much as you want to change things, noise is the elephant in the room that makes something achievable into something seemingly impossible.
Noise tells you to eat a bag of cookies when you are trying to lose weight. It tells you not to ask for a raise because your boss will laugh at you or tell you that you don’t deserve it. It tells you that you won’t ever be in shape enough to be seen at the gym so you might as well not bother exercising at all. It tells you that nobody good will ever fall in love with you. It convinces you that you are predetermined to live the life your parents are leading or led, or that you will never live up to what they expect, or that you can’t really be who you want to be. Noise convinces you that you don’t really deserve love, that you will never make enough money to stop worrying, or that you are just one of those people who can’t be happy. Noise bullies you until it gets its way. In fact, if you feel bullied by other people, you are probably actually being bullied by your own noise, which can make you feel like a victim.
I’ll never forget the night I was lying in bed with Jason discussing our future. We didn’t agree about everything we wanted in our lives, so I immediately thought that meant we had no future. I hadn’t yet learned that two people can build goals together, and that our desires can evolve. Before I met him, I had almost given up — I had assumed that I could have some of the things I wanted, but not all of the things I wanted. I had come to terms with the idea that my career came first so that was what I would get — a great career. Maybe I would find a way to have a baby and raise it myself. I was resigned. Even after meeting him, I didn’t think I could have it all.
So even when Jason told me that he wanted a commitment and a family, I didn’t consider that as a real option for me. It seemed impossible. I couldn’t believe it.
My noise was wrong — as noise always is.
Kinds of noise
Noise comes out of past experiences where you were hurt or scared or just didn’t learn how to believe in yourself. It can start from one comment someone made to you years ago that you believed, or it can come out of years of abuse or neglect. Noise makes you give up, settle, accept less than you wanted, or never try for the thing you want the most.
Without recognizing your noise, you won’t be able to come from a place of yes. Noise is strong and has power. Your noise might be in a different category than my noise, or you might have noise in all the same places. There is childhood noise — the noise that repeats all those stories that you have learned about yourself based on what your family told you, that holds you back from growing up. There is career noise — the noise that tells you that you don’t deserve to get ahead, that you aren’t qualified to be where you are, or that you’ll never be able to have the job that makes you happy. There is food noise — the noise that urges you to binge or starve or beat yourself up if you were “bad.” There is exercise noise that keeps you on the couch because what’s the point. There is beauty noise that tells you that you won’t ever be beautiful because of this or that feature. Imagine if Lauren Hutton, with the gap in her teeth, or Cindy Crawford, with her beauty mark, or Barbra Streisand, with an imperfect nose, had listened to beauty noise? Thank goodness they didn’t change a thing about their beautiful faces.
There is money noise — the noise that tells you that you might as well charge your credit card to the limit because you are so far in the hole that it doesn’t matter, or that you better not dare spend anything on yourself because you are scared to death that you might not have enough money for something else. There is relationship noise — the noise that encourages you to endure horrible relationships, or attracts you to the wrong men, or tells you that you should get married now or you might never get another chance, or tells you to run whenever a relationship gets serious. Your noise will change as your life changes. Now that I have a baby, I have parenting noise and sleep noise and breast-feeding noise. Sometimes I lie awake and wonder, am I doing it right? What if I mess up my daughter? This noise is totally new for me but there it is — noise can come and go according to what is happening to you right now.
You might have other kinds of noise, too. Friendship noise, sibling noise, sex noise, clutter noise, body noise, cooking noise — whatever your issues are, whatever holds you back or stresses you out, that’s where your noise is.
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Fortunately, like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, your noise has a counterpart: it is your voice. Your voice knows what’s good for you and right for you and what is authentic to who you really are. It tells you what to do, why you are good, and why you deserve the best. It shows you the map for reaching your dreams, and when you learn to hear it and ignore the noise, the noise gets quieter and the voice gets louder. This is the key to unlocking the best parts of yourself.
When you are used to your loud, rude, clamoring noise, your voice can be hard to hear. But it’s in there. “A Place of Yes” is about how I found mine, and how finding your voice and learning to listen to it can allow great things to start happening to you. Because you’ll stop getting in the way.
Sometimes your noise will be louder than other times. Sometimes you’ll listen to it and go the wrong way. You’ll make mistakes. That’s life. Part of coming from a place of yes is to accept that you screwed up and move on. Forgive yourself and don’t dwell in the past. It’s OK because it has to be OK. It’s what happened. If you can make something good out of a mistake or learn something from it, you are coming from a place of yes. If you keep moving forward, despite your mistakes, and if you keep trying, even when you fail, your voice will lead the way and you can always find your way back to your path forward.
If you have read my books or watched my shows, you know I’m not perfect and I don’t have life totally figured out and under control. I will never pretend to have all the answers. I’m just someone who has learned how to stop getting in my own way more often than not. I’m on a path just like you are, but I’m managing my noise and I’ve learned how to make things happen in my life. I’ve finally found my voice.
From "A Place of Yes" by Bethenny Frankel. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive