Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself Interview: Erin Lanahan


This is second week of a month-long promotion for Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself, a book about taming your inner critic that features 40 stories from Tiny Buddha contributors. 

Over the next month, you’ll have a chance to meet some of them contributors through daily interviews here on the blog.

Today’s featured contributor is Erin Lanahan, a holistic health coach who formerly struggled with her relationship with herself and her body, and finding purpose and meaning in her life.

Her contribution for the book urges us to change our perception of rejection so we can learn, grow, and even benefit from it.

A little more about Erin…

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your self-love journey.

I have been on a path of releasing shame, low self-esteem, and low self-worth for the majority of my life. I became aware of these limitations and how they ruined my ability to be myself and speak my truth at a pretty young age.

Ever since, I have been reaching past my comfort zones, expanding the ways in which I share my message and myself, with friends, family, clients, and students. I have been on an endless adventure, exploring my inner universe so I can best experience my outer universe.

Self-love has been the cure to all my problems. The lack of it pushed me into drug and alcohol abuse, food obsession, unhealthy and toxic relationships, and all sorts of attempts to escape my current feelings and circumstances.

Today I am a work in progress, but I am aware that as long as I do not abandon myself and as long as I love myself unconditionally, I will be okay and able to survive anything.

In fact, I know that I will not only survive if I use self-love as my cure, but I will thrive.

2. Have you ever felt there’s “something wrong with you”? If so, why, and what’s helped you change your perception?

There was a time in my life when I would not have been able to give you list of things that were “right” or “good” about me. I lived in the land of self-judgment and conditional love. All I could see was what was wrong with me, and it was pretty much everything.

I felt so much shame about certain things that happened to me along the way. I was afraid to let myself get too close to others, out of fear that they would leave me if they actually knew everything about me, saw me up close, and knew just how insane I truly am!

Then, through working with others, working under mentors and coaches of my own, I realized that nothing happens to me, but rather life happens for me. At first, this was hard to swallow. It was a paradigm shift, and yet, it gave me an opportunity to reclaim my power.

As I began to shift the way I saw the things that happened in my world, I began to experience life in a completely different way. This doesn’t mean life got easier all of the time, but it did get easier for some of the time, and it certainly got more interesting all of the time.

I continue to ask myself: “If this is happening for me, then how can I take my power back?” This sends me on a treasure hunt, and as a result, I create the opportunity to uncover and discover the hidden treasures of my soul.

3. Have you ever thought something was a flaw only to realize that other people actually appreciate that about you? What was the “flaw”?

Absolutely. I used to hate being vulnerable, showing people my insecurities, and letting them in on the secret that I was human. Turns out, my students, clients, friends, family, and partner all connect with me and relate to me on a much deeper level when I share this truth with them. It has become my greatest strength.

4. What was your biggest mistake (that you’re willing to share), and what helped you forgive yourself?

My biggest mistake is how many people I hurt by hating myself so much, which was actually all ego.

My ego-driven fears, such as the lack of belief in myself and shame around who I was, made it impossible for me to show up for life and for those who benefited from my services and presence.

My shame sent me to a rock bottom, where I blamed everything for my pain. Not taking responsibility for my part in things burned many bridges between me and others.

I have been able to forgive myself because I see now that I was doing the best I could all those years ago.

I can feel good about myself for getting the help I needed to heal and to ultimately be living the life I live today, helping others do the same, showing up to life, and showing up for others and myself, no matter what kind of day I am having. Every day I correct my past by taking estimable actions in the now.

5. Complete this sentence: When other people don’t like me, I…

I feel the hurt initially, and then I realize that it does not serve anyone to go into self-pity. It is important that I look at my part. Knowing that how they feel is “their stuff,” not mine, I still must look within myself for the place that is triggered by their stuff.

Their stuff triggers mine. It may be my own lack of self-love, my low self-worth, my self-doubt, my ego and fear. Once I am aware of what they are helping me see and get for myself, I am able to take my power back from the situation and release my attachment to how they see and feel about me.

Therefore, when people don’t like me I experience a loss of power initially, until I realize the opportunity and go within myself to reclaim my power.

6. What are some areas in your life where you’ve compared yourself to other people, and what’s helped you let go of these comparisons?

I have done this a lot in my life. I have compared my body to others, my skin, my hair, my finances, my car, my clothes, my success, my career, my partner, you name it! I have compared everything at some point.

I still catch myself doing this sometimes. What helps me let go of these comparisons is the pain I feel when I do it. It causes so much suffering, and that’s because it does not come from love; it comes from fear.

As soon as I feel the suffering, I am aware that I am seeing life from the eyes of fear, and as soon as I know this, I can shift from fear to love. I just keep my awareness of this until I begin to feel the relief that comes when I remember the truth—that I cannot compare myself to anyone, for we have totally different paths and purposes in our lives, and therefore they will look and unfold differently.

7. What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about looking to other people to complete you?

It doesn’t work. Feeling complete is an inside job. Others will always mirror how complete you already feel inside yourself. Focus on wholeness within yourself, and as a result, those around you will remind you of your wholeness.

8. Have you ever felt afraid to show people your “real” self? Why—and what’s helped you move beyond that?

Yes. I thought they would lose respect for me and no longer be able to value my presence in their lives. I thought it would give them good reason not to love me.

What’s helped me move beyond this is courage and vulnerability, which is the choice to share what’s in my heart, regardless of the outcome. As a result, I have learned that people truly love me, scars and all—and if they don’t, it’s their stuff, not mine, that makes them feel that way.

9. What are the top three things you personally need to do to take good of yourself, mentally and emotionally?

  • Speak my truth
  • Eat well
  • Exercise

10. What’s something you do regularly that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in the world?

I keep working on myself so that I can give even more of my gifts. Every day I go out into the world and I share what’s in my heart, regardless of the outcome. As a friend, a partner, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a coach, a client, and a writer, this allows me to release my attachment to what others get or do not get from my service or my presence in the world.

When I release my expectations, everyone, including me, gets exactly what we are meant to get, which is exactly what we need.

*Note: I edited this post to remove info about the pre-order promotion, which ended on October 8, 2013. You can learn more about Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself here.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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