Avoiding The Comparison Game

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent - Eleanor Roosevelt

 I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.  It is a good reminder when feeling less than and not enough.

 Feeling inferior is an easy trap to fall into, especially in our modern age of social media.  When we view others’ posts and see how great they are doing, how they’re killing it and exceeding their goals, it is easy to begin playing the comparison game.  Once the comparison game begins, it is only a matter of minutes, and sometimes seconds, when we begin to feel inferior, less than, and not enough – and then we retreat, isolate, and sabotage ourselves.

 The next time you find yourself “going there” and beginning that cycle, take a step back.  Take a deep breath.  Hold for a count of 5.  Slowly exhale.  Repeat.

Those people posting on social media, or telling you themselves, are portraying to you their highlight reel – their “A” game.  They are working on making a good impression.  When listening to them, we tend to compare ourselves, not with our highlight reel, but with our “B” reel – you know the one where our shortcomings, mistakes and bloopers are on a continuous loop helping us feel worse about ourselves.


 For those who are sports minded, it would be like having our top 5 varsity basketball players play a game against the beginning 7th graders.  It isn’t a fair match up at all.

 The next time you find yourself in that situation, what can you do to take care of you?

 *turn off the social media or if it is a real person, excuse yourself

 *do some deep breathing and repeat the mantra, “I am enough”

 *have a post-it or two that you carry with you

*listing what would be on your highlight reel

*listing your top 5 strengths

 *remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent

 Keep working towards your own goals at your pace.  You are doing a great job being you!

 If you would like some help in this area, email me at denisestyer@comcast.net, or schedule a complimentary discovery call with me at www.calendly.com/denisestyer

 Remember to take care of you!


6 Steps to Improving Self-Worth

Prior to working as a Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Coach, I was a therapist/director for hospital-based programs focusing on eating disorders, non-suicidal self-injury, suicide risk/assessment/prevention, and trauma. The clients I worked with were ages 11-77 and were 90% female. Underlying the therapy, program development, and coping skills I helped clients implement was self-worth.

The focus of self-worth is also prevalent in my work as a Coach. Self-worth is about who we are, our own worth, and our perceived value. Self-worth is our foundation. When our self-worth is strong, it shows in how we interact with others, our work and our relationships.  When our self-worth is lacking it is difficult to use our voice, get our needs met, and advocate for ourselves. Historically, girls and women have not necessarily been taught or encouraged to have a strong sense of self-worth – until now.

Here are six steps to take to improve your self-worth.

Step 1: Make the Decision

The first step to improving self-worth is to make the decision to do so. It sounds simple, but anytime we do something new and step out of our comfort zone, we can have doubts. Making the decision and setting the intention are essential.

In our world of instant gratification, know that the process of improving our self-worth will take time and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to discuss our fears, limiting beliefs, and doubts throughout our work, either with a coach or therapist. These discussions can help us limit self-sabotage and increase motivation to keep moving forward.

Step 2: Identify & Challenge Negative Thoughts

The second step is to identify our negative thoughts. Are you aware of the negative messages you tell yourself each day? Did you know that these negative thoughts impair your sense of value and impede your progress? Take some time and write down the negative and not-so-pleasant thoughts you tell yourself, no matter how big or small. As you think of new thoughts, add them to the list.  

Once we have identified our negative thoughts, we then want to challenge them. This may seem foreign at first. It can be helpful to remember that there was a time when we didn’t believe the negative thoughts. Over time, as we heard them from others, or said them to ourselves, we began to believe them until they became part of us. It is possible to undo this thinking process. However, it does take time.

To aide in this process, I like to have my clients take a piece of paper and fold it in half length-wise. On the left side of the fold, write down all the negatives in one color. On the right side, in a different color, challenge each of those negative thoughts.




Step 3: Take a Relationship Inventory

The third step is to take an inventory of your relationships. What are your relationships like? Are your relationships with others supportive, or are they critical? It is difficult to feel good about ourselves if the people we spend time with are degrading us, cutting us down, or undermining us.  I’m not suggesting ending your relationships, but to have an awareness of the dynamics and how supportive they are of you. If you are looking for support, reaching out to the family member or friend that reminds you of your limitations will not be helpful.

Understanding the working dynamics of our relationships can allow us to work on setting boundaries. It also helps us identify who we can reach out to, who to spend less time with, and who to work to build more positive relationships with.

Step 4: Create Positive Affirmations

I am all about positive affirmations! The negative ones come so easily, but many struggle with the positives. Make it a goal to write down 50 positive things about yourself. I know 50 can seem like a lot, but I also know you can get there. Just take it one at a time, and breathe!

I encourage you to do the list by yourself. If you ask someone else to help you, it’s almost inevitable at some point that you’ll have a disagreement with that person and then you might discount those positives. If you write the list of affirmations yourself, they are always true no matter your mood or the situation.

Keep your list nearby and read it frequently. Do not discount the affirmations as you read them! The more you read them, the more you will believe them.

Step 5: Respond Positively to Compliments  

When someone gives you a compliment, what do you do?  Many women dismiss the compliment or discount it. Spend some time observing women receiving compliments.  How many times have you heard a woman tell another woman they like their skirt and the response is, “This old thing? I got it on a huge sale.”  Instead, next time you receive a compliment, say “thank you” and then stop – do not let your internal voice discount it. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you can do it! A compliment is a gift.  When we receive a gift, we say “thank you”.

Step 6: Take Good Care of Yourself

When we take care of ourselves, we tend to feel better about ourselves. Whether it’s yoga, exercise, reading a book, relaxation, meditation, a bubble bath, alone time, eating right, or something else you enjoy, incorporating self-care into each day can help you feel better about yourself.  When you’re super busy, it may seem like you don’t have the time, so start with 2 – 5 minutes a day and work your way up. You’ll feel better about yourself. When we aren’t feeling tired and depleted, we are able to function much better.

Reviewing each of these steps at the beginning of our sessions has been beneficial for my clients.  The review gives my clients opportunity to discuss any struggles that are occurring as well as acknowledging growth in how they view themselves. Find someone you can review your progress with, and remember to celebrate your successes.  

Watching the Olympics gets me thinking....

I love watching the Olympics.  I love how our country comes together to cheer on our athletes.  I love how these athletes give it their all and watch in anticipation as they find out how they scored.  I love how watching the Olympics makes me think of my own goals and progress.

Now, I am not in the same class as our Olympic athletes!  There is no disputing that!  Yet, just as our athletes, I too, have my own goals and dreams.  As we are nearing the middle of February, and I'm watching these spectacular jumps, skating, and skiing, I think back to the goals I set for me for 2018.

Do you do the same?  When was the last time you looked at your New Year's Resolutions?  Did you put them in SMART goal format?  






(Now, if you watched my Facebook video, you witnessed me having the courage to be imperfect as I blanked on what SMART stands for!!)

Most people write their goals as “get in shape”, “lose weight”, “find a new job”.  Written in that format, these goals seem overwhelming and unattainable.  It is easy to feel defeated before you even begin.  By using the SMART goal format, you break your goals down into smaller, attainable steps.  It is nice when we have goals and feel as if we have a plan towards accomplishing them.  It is not too late to rewrite your goals for 2018 into the SMART goal format.  I encourage you to do so as you will not feel so overwhelmed.

In reviewing and revising our 2018 goals, we can also see the progress we have made.  Just by doing one small thing each day, we are working towards your goals.  While the destination is our goal (the end result), the journey is where we will grow as a person.  The steps we take, the progress we make, the ways we change for the betterment of ourselves, is really what our goals are all about. 

Our lives are crazy busy.  We have schedules, deadlines, and demands.  We work on balancing our schedules with family and friends – which can also seem overwhelming at times.  What is the first thing we drop when our schedules get congested?  Usually, ourselves.

What can you do each day for you?  Yes, you.  Just you.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there are gasps and muttering right now about how you don’t have time; who am I to suggest such a thing; and/or I must be crazy!  I get it.  I remember those same thoughts as a single mom working full-time in a demanding job.  Seriously, if you can carve out even 15 minutes a day for you, I promise you will see results and feel better.  Fifteen minutes to read a book, play the piano, go for a walk, journal, jam out to your favorite music playlist, do some kundalini yoga, send an inquiry email, etc.  Fifteen minutes just for you.  Fifteen minutes to take a baby step, or two, towards your dreams/goals. 

With those 15 minutes dedicated to you, you will feel calmer, more refreshed, and possibly more energized.  You will decrease some stress and may even find yourself not being so short or irritated when others place their demands on you.  Or, when tensions get high, you may find you don’t get so rattled and are calmer. 

You deserve at least 15 minutes a day.  You deserve the time for you to focus on your goals and dreams.  As Art Williams said, “I am not telling you it’s going to be easy.  I am telling you it’s going to be worth it”.

You deserve it! 

If you need some help adjusting your goals, or encouragement and structure to work on them, connect with me!

Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

February 12, 2018

Why a Coach?

When you’re in business meeting, do you hesitate to share your idea?  Do you think you’ll be met with criticism, or discounted?  Do you get frustrated with yourself when one of your colleagues shares their idea and you know yours was better? But you didn't speak up?

Do you go out with family or friends and stay quiet? Do you hesitate to speak your mind for fear of rocking the boat?  Fear of being picked on?  Ridiculed or teased?

Have you had past experiences where you tried to use your voice and was shut down or threatened?

Do you have goals or project you’ve been working on, but you can’t seem to complete?

Are you going through a divorce and could use some guidance on how to manage this entire process?

Do you engage in eating disorder and/or self-injurious behavior ‘s and struggle to set up a system to use your positive coping skills?

Are you in an environment where you would like to improve your leadership skills but really don’t know how? Or, you would like to build upon your skill set?

Would you like your choice in employment and partner to be more in aligned with your values?

A coach could be instrumental for any of the above scenarios.  A coach would be able to work with you on your goal setting and implementation.  Having a coach can assist with your accountability. Depending upon what your needs are, a coach can also teach you skills

Unlike therapy, coaching is focused on the here and the now. It is time-limited. There are no diagnoses given. There is no insurance to be dealt with. Coaching can be done live in person in an office. Or, it could be done on the phone, by FaceTime, Skype, or by Zoom.

If there is an area that you feel stuck or would like to improve upon, connect with me and we can discuss an individual coaching plan to meet your needs. Coaching programs are three- or six-months in length. If you choose a three-month program and you believe more time would be beneficial, we can keep moving forward. Payment plans are available to assist you as you make this investment for you and your future.

Let me know if you have any questions.  I am looking forward to getting to know you!

Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

January 29, 2018


I mentioned in last week's blog that my word for this year was "Vulnerability".  Vulnerability - not a word I have been particularly fond of.

According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, the definition of vulnerable is "capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; open to attack or damage".  

This definition goes along with my thinking of the word "vulnerability".  To me, "vulnerability" has meant that if I open myself up and let down my guard, I will be susceptible to criticism and being hurt.  It would leave me raw and I perceived it as weak.

However, as I have pondered my thinking, I also have come to realize that being vulnerable can lead to a lot of good.  It can be an opening to let people in.  By demonstrating vulnerability, one can present as more open and welcoming.  The willingness to show potential flaws, can be a sign of strength.  We all have flaws.  There is no such thing as perfection (as addressed in last week's blog! ;)).  Our imperfections, flaws, and weaknesses show our uniqueness - what makes us, us.  If we are not willing to show our vulnerability, how can we ever let anyone else in.  It is like walking around with our guard up all the time.  And, when we do that, we miss out on getting to know others.  More importantly, we miss out on knowing ourselves.

So, this year I am working on vulnerability.  For me, it goes together with perfectionism. Shedding these layers of armor that might have kept me safe, but also prevented me from really living, loving, and learning more about others and myself.  I hope you will join me.  

Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

January 22, 2018



For the past 25 years, I have worked with individuals who firmly believed in the concept of "perfection".  I have disputed this belief.  I have provided examples to dispel the actuality of being perfect.  I have done comparisons as to their expectations and if they'd expect the same from friends (of which they of course said, no, they wouldn't).  I cannot recall the number of times I have read, The Velveteen Rabbit and held discussions on what it means "to be real".  I have had internal alarms go off in my head when people talk about this great girl who has all AP classes, volunteers her time, has a job, participates in school clubs, and is an athlete.  People rave at how great this girl is and I worry and wonder what she is feeling, avoiding, and struggling with. 

All the while I have been doing this important work with these fabulous individuals, it took me to leave my job to realize that I, too, have been striving for perfection.  I disguised my striving under the guise of “detail oriented” and “setting an example”.  Yet, if I am honest, as I look back in hindsight, it was perfection I was going for. 

Upon further examination, I have come to realize it wasn’t writer’s block that I experienced when my team and I were writing our book (Self-Injury:  Simple Answers to Complex Questions). It was my fear of not having what I wrote be perfect; using the wrong tense, or not clearly stating what I meant.  Upon further reflection, I realize that besides being a night person and thinking clearer at night, it also had to do with deadlines.  By waiting until I was close a deadline, I didn’t focus as much on making sure everything was right as much as not missing my deadline.  Making my deadline and not letting down my team was more important to me than making sure everything was perfect. 

Perfectionism does not exist.  It always leads to being dissatisfied with the “now” and continually raising the bar.  It does not allow for celebrations of accomplishments met because one is already thinking of what the “more” they need to accomplish.  Perfection allows one to not be present in the moment and always striving for the unattainable.  Perfection prevents one from using their voice because they are afraid they won’t be understood, or they might not be correct, or they will be ridiculed.

For 2018, I am working on letting go of my perfectionistic ways.  It is messy.  It is uncomfortable.  It is driving me up the wall right now that while I am certain there are errors in this blog, I am letting them be as I work on practicing imperfection. 

Have you chosen your word for 2018?  I believe my word chose me – “Vulnerability”.  This year I will be working on being in the moment, being messy, being imperfect, being open, allowing others to see my flaws, asking for help and accepting the help of others.

I’m looking forward to this wild ride…….. Who wishes to join me?  Who’s in? 


Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

January 15, 2018


Tonight’s Golden Globes:  It is 2018 – Time is Now – No More

Watching the Golden Globes this evening was a tearful one for me.  I cannot recall ever having shed as many tears during this show as I did tonight.  Some of my tears were happy tears, some were “it’s about time” tears, some were sad tears, and many were tears of the pain that, so many women have had to experience.

We have been a society of rape culture.  If something happened to a woman and she attempted to seek justice, it was her sexual past, her fashion sense, her use of alcohol, and the audacity of being out on her own that were on trial.  Not her abuser/rapist/assailant.  We teach girls from an early age to be safe - to go out in groups, to not walk around alone in the dark, to have her keys ready to gouge someone, to park under lights, to attend self-defense classes taught by men, to carry pepper spray or mace and not spray themselves, and that heels are not only fashion but a great weapon.  We have special words to say to bartenders if our safety is feeling threatened.  There has even been nail polish invented that by dipping your finger into your drink, you can tell if your drink has been drugged.  Women have been taught that they need men to protect them and keep them safe.  However, the question and perplexity are – which men are the good guys and which ones are the ones who will hurt us.  And, why must we have men protect us?  Why can we not be equals?  Companions? Friends? Lovers? Confidants?

I have been sexually harassed.  #metoo.  I still remember walking down a street in my hometown with my friend.  I was wearing my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and my blue espadrille’s.  I must have been a freshman in high school.  When the construction workers whistled, and cat called us, my friend and I giggled.  I look back at that incident and think how warped it was that these adult men calling out at barely teenagers boosted my self-esteem.  That it was my belief at that moment in time that this was a compliment and not something that I/we should be disgusted by.  There were, of course, many other times of harassment, but this one stands out.  It speaks volumes to me as to what I thought a young female in the late 70s/early 80s represented as well as the belief of how I increased my self-worth at that time.

In all honesty, I have not been sexually assaulted.  Over the years I have reflected on how did I escape the 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18.  That is a staggering number.  I do not know why I was not one of those who have been.  I don’t believe there is a secret to not having this happen.

However, over the past 25 years many, many of the individuals I have worked with have experienced rape/date rape/incest/sexual assault.  Oftentimes, this was the first time these individuals ever shared with anyone that they had been hurt and, if they could find their voice, was ignored and silenced against their will.  I am honored to have had the trust by these individuals to be part of their journey in doing this very difficult work.  My role was one of compassion, nonjudgment, and teaching how to find their voice, use their voice, empower them, cope in a healthy positive way and engage in self-care.  For them, it was painful and heartbreaking as well as freeing and empowering.  There have been tears, rage, shame, guilt, self-harm, eating disorders, use of drugs/alcohol, and suicide attempts.  For many, there was healing and recovery.

There were calls to insurance companies to get authorization for treatment and denied because they weren’t moving fast enough in their treatment.  There have been calls to the Department of Children Services that were not deemed serious enough for follow up by the very organization that was to protect these individuals.  There were multiple calls to the Department of Children Services for any little thing that could be reported so that the system would be alerted and investigate.  There have been calls to the Department of Children Services where parameters were put in place to get the individual and their family help.  There have been calls to Department of Children Services where a family member was removed from the home for the harm they had been causing thus causing relief and guilt by the individual who had been abused.

My tears tonight was also for those brave girls and boys who shared their story with their family.  The families who were supportive and felt horrible and willing to do anything to help their child.  I wish I could say those families were the norm.  The families that denied anything happened.  The families that said, “get over it already”.  The families that were initially supportive but then became angry once they realized they had to choose between their children on how they would handle family gatherings.  The anger the family felt toward the abused individual who took the risk to share what had happened – anger at the victim, not the son who had abused their daughter.  The girl recanting her story once she realized she was being ostracized from the family.  The girl who became an adult and did well living on her own but then needing to return home for one reason or another to only decompensate because how can one function effectively if living near their abuser? The adult whose abuser died, and she was left with unanswered questions and wondering if it was okay to love the person who had also caused her such harm.  And, the many, many, many individuals who thought if they confronted their abuser they would get a heartfelt apology and remorse over what happened only to be heartbroken and disappointed when the incident(s) was denied. These scenarios do not represent any one individual’s story.  They are some of the main themes I have encountered working with trauma over the years.    

My tears tonight was for their courage; taking a risk to find their voice; working so hard to learn how to live without harmful coping behaviors; moving beyond what happened to them, and taking back their lives.  One will never forget their abuse.  Yet, one can live beyond it and learn to trust themselves and others.  One can find their voice and learn to use it.  One can learn to trust in themselves and others and have healthy relationships.  These reasons are why I am so passionate about working with girls/women to empower them, find their voice, use their voice, and take care of themselves.  I believe in them.

This past year has been a tumultuous time in our country.  Yet, there has been some positives one of which was women standing up and speaking out.  Not every woman wants to make their story public or are ready to share and that is okay.  Their story is their story and it is their choice to share what and if they choose.  Those women who have been vocal have helped change the landscape.  Men who harm women, take advantage of them, use power and manipulation against women are learning that we will no longer stand by silently.  Women are empowering each other and supporting each other. We are strong.  And we are finding out who the good men are as they stand up and speak out against these behaviors and are supportive. 

Oprah’s speech was powerful, inspiring, and empowering this evening.  If you didn’t see it, I strongly encourage you to find it and watch it.  Two takeaways from Oprah that resonated with me were,

speaking your truth is the most powerful tool that you have” and

a new day is on the horizon”.

Time is up.  No more. Me too.


Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

January 7, 2018

A New Year, A New Empowered You

Happy New Year!  

How great it was this morning to login to Instagram and see #timesup.  Women across every industry are standing in solidarity with each other against sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination.  

Tarana Burke created #metoo in 2007.  It caught momentum this past year as many women, and some men, came forward and said #metoo -- that they had also experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, and/or sexual assault and would no longer remain silent.  The impact has been astounding, but it is just the beginning.  I love seeing women realize that they have a voice and by using their voices, change for good can happen.  We have been silent for way too long. 

Do you relate to #metoo and #timesup?  Would you like to find your voice, learn to use your voice, and empower yourself?  I am offering a 3 month coaching program where we will do just that.   If you want more information, check out www.denisestyer.com or send an email to denisestyer@comcast.net.  I look forward to getting to know you!


Tackling Our Limiting Beliefs

Are you aware of your limiting beliefs? Do you know what a limiting belief is? Do you know what prevents you from moving forward and being your best?  Is it that tiny voice in your head yelling that you don't belong? You don't fit in? You'll never succeed?


 What do you do with these thoughts? How do you manage them?  How do you put them aside so you can move forward and live the life you dream of? Aspire to? Yearn for instead of watching from the sidelines?


Limiting beliefs are self doubt.  They are our insecurities; negative things people have said that you held onto; and the fear that they are true.


The good news is that it is possible to overcome limiting beliefs. With some self exploration and practice, you can do so.  As with any other goal, it requires some work but what successes and achievements have you had that didn't require work?


Here are five steps that with practice, persistence, and patience you, too, can overcome your limiting beliefs:


1.    Identify your limiting beliefs.  In order to challenge, counter, and overcome limiting beliefs, it is necessary to know what they are.  The best way to do this is to write them down.  How do you know when you are encountering limiting beliefs?  Think back to a moment when you had a negative self-doubting thought.  That would be a limiting belief.  An example might be working on a presentation to the Board of Directors.  As you are working on this presentation, you have the nagging thoughts of “I’m not good at selling ideas to others”, your high school creative writing teacher’s comment that “you are unable to creatively express yourself”, or you hear your parents’ voice saying “you are from a blue collar family, what do you know about meetings with executives?”  These would be examples of limiting beliefs.


2.    Look for the facts.  Once you have written down your negative self-doubts, the next step is to determine the factual content, if any, of these statements.  Using a statement from above: “not good at selling”, if you wrote down “not able to meet quota for Girl Scout cookie sales in 6th grade”; a one-time incident back in elementary school does not constitute a fact relating to adult life.

If you can think of any evidence that might support this thought, write it down next to the statement.  You may not be able to come up with any which is a good indicator that this is a limiting belief.


3.    Challenge your limiting beliefs.  Some individuals find this step to be difficult since it is countering a thought/belief you might have had for quite some time. 


I’m not good at selling ideas to others”. Just because I didn’t make quota with Girl Scout cookie sales does not mean I do not know how to put together a presentation supporting an idea.


“You are unable to creatively express yourself”.  In college I had a poem published in the university’s creative essays.


“You are from a blue collar family, what do you know about meetings with executives”.  Yes, I came from a hardworking blue collar family, but I went to college, studied hard, and have the knowledge and skills to give a presentation to executives because I am an executive.


4.    Replace the self-doubting thoughts. Now that you have identified and challenged your limiting beliefs, it is time to work on replacing them.  What new thoughts can you focus on that are factually based and not self limiting?  Again, write them down.  Examples might be:


*I have given successful presentations.  I can do this.


*I am creative. I can express myself. I can do this


*I am educated. I am skilled. I am trained. I come from a hardworking family.  I, too, am hardworking.


5.    Practice, practice, practice.  Whenever we learn new skills, tasks, or habits, we need to practice.  Nothing magically comes to us overnight.  Keep your new positive statements nearby.  For some individuals, having them written in a notebook kept in their purse or desk can be helpful and easy to review when doubt begins to creep in.  For others, using post-it notes around a mirror at home can be beneficial.  Or, another helpful way to incorporate these new thoughts is to say them in the morning before you get out of bed and/or at the end of the day before going to sleep.

Yes, limiting beliefs are real and can prevent you from moving forward.  However, with the five steps above, you can counter them, change your thinking, and move forward.  Soon you will be accomplishing your goals and succeeding.  All the best to you!


Denise M. Styer, PsyD, GLCC

October 27, 2016