Weeding Our Beliefs


What do you believe?

It’s a big question.

We hold beliefs about everything – the job we’re supposed to be in, how attractive we are, whether we’re good at painting, running, math, or being a leader. Our beliefs affect how we work, learn, love, and live.

I inadvertently began a deep dive into my own beliefs in January during a discussion on spirituality with Andy, a friend (and fellow coach!) I had recently met. I referenced my past Christian upbringing when describing the connection I felt in the world by saying, “I guess that’s what some people would call the Holy Spirit.”

Andy’s response?

“You can call it whatever you want.”

It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening – more like a spiritual startling. I had to pause for moment to let it sink in.

He was right. This was my belief. I could call it whatever I wanted.

I continued examining my beliefs in preparation for a panel discussion on generations and faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in February, the church where I grew up and worked for many years. During a meeting ahead of the panel, someone mentioned they didn’t understand what it meant to be spiritual and not religious. So I decided to share my perspective during the event.

In front of 200 people.

In the same room where I had been confirmed 23 years earlier.

The irony and impact of the moment hit me about an hour before I went on stage. A million thoughts went through my head. Would people be disappointed in me? Would they look at me like I was crazy when I described spirituality as being in the flow and feeling like I was stepping into the river of the universe?

Maybe. But I did it anyway.

It was a true adult moment. I stood on a stage with a microphone and put a stake in the ground on my beliefs. And I called them what I wanted; what I chose.


Last Thursday I attended a workshop on creating happiness. The facilitators told us that we are constantly cultivating our beliefs – and it’s our job to weed out the beliefs that no longer serve us.

Think for a moment….

Are you in a job today because of a belief you held at nineteen that no longer applies?

Do you avoid art classes or public speaking or asking someone out on a date because somewhere along the line you believed you weren’t good enough?

How many of your beliefs were given to you by your parents? Your teachers? A former boyfriend, coach, or manager?

Do those beliefs still serve you?

Or is it time to do some weeding?


Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.

Three Steps to Getting Along With Your Family This Holiday

Notice, Ask, Listen

It’s that time of year. Cars are packed to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, airplanes travel to bring people home for a merry little Christmas, and we attend party after party in hopes of having the most wonderful time of the year.

Are you ready to enjoy it all?

Or are your boxing gloves out, ready to spar over Trump, #metoo, the tax bill, and the bleeding heart liberals/radical evangelicals/Democrats/Republicans that are ruining this country? Have you already constructed an argument to defend your career choice? Are you preparing biting remarks to counter questions about why you don’t have any children?

What if you took a different approach?

Shifted your mindset from judgment to learning?

Listened to understand instead of looking for holes in an argument?

Here are three steps to make this shift. I’m not going to say they’re easy. Your patience and resolve will be tested. But I’m certain they will help you know your family better and have a lower-stress holiday!


When you visit family and friends, pause and look at them. Really look at them. What is different from the last time you met? What emotions do you see in their face? Stop and notice “and this person you thought you knew will feel different and that person will respond to you differently,” mindfulness researcher Ellen Langer said on a recent OnBeing podcast. “And this happens instantly.”

Instant change simply by taking the time to notice? That’s something worth trying!


In September I spent two weeks in Croatia with three friends that I had collectively known for over 30 years. Instead of the usual chitchat during dinner, we decided to ask thought-provoking questions. Here is just a sample of our discussions:

  • What change could you make right now that would have an immediate impact on your life?
  • Is everyone capable of being a leader?
  • What three words would you use to describe the human race?
  • If you had to spend $10,000, what would you spend it on?

These questions led to more questions, personal stories and reflections. There was laughter, tears – and some disagreement! But I learned more about my friends in those two weeks than I had in the previous decades I had known them.

Not sure where to start? Get curious. What do you want to know about your family? The story of how your grandparents met? What it was like to for your aunt to live during the cultural tumult of the 1960s and how that compares to today? What your cousin loves about his job? Ask, and then….


Listening is not simply being quiet. It isn’t keeping your mouth shut while you internally formulate a rebuttal. It isn’t waiting for your turn to speak.

Listening is shifting the focus away from the thoughts running through your head and to the other person. Listen to their words, their tone, and their body language. Listen to understand their experience and perspective. Use your energy to purposefully give them your full attention.

There will be times when your emotions get the better of you. When your aunt asks if you’re ever going to get married at the same time the dog jumps on the table and starts eating the meat and your grandfather blames it on Obama. This will happen.

Before reacting, take a deep breath. This single moment is often enough to regroup and purposefully decide what to do next. Then:

  • Consciously switch back to noticing.
  • Instead of interrupting with your own point of view, ask, “How did you come that conclusion?”
  • Seek understanding by actively listening.

Notice, ask, listen, repeat and see what happens.

Happy holidays!

Further resources:

  • Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown – A phenomenal book on belonging and rebuilding our communities through listening, authenticity, and courage.
  • Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams – It has the appearance of a business book, but the content on shifting from judgment to learning and asking questions to seek understanding applies to every part of life.


Heather Whelpley is a speaker and coach that works with women to combat self-doubt, own their brilliance, and step into the career and life they desire. See her home page or join Heather’s mailing list to learn more. 

Keeping the Faith

Slovenia Coast

On my last day in Slovenia I decided to do what I enjoy most: walk. I had walked all over Slovenia during my 10-day trip – on mountain paths to waterfalls, down country lanes past herds of sheep and cows, on boardwalks through gorges. This last trek was along the coast from Piran, where I was staying. I planned to follow a designated walking route north, do a short loop at the end of the trail, and walk back to Piran.

I missed the turn back. I saw it. I paused to consider whether I should turn there, but the trail markers I had been following for two and a half hours kept going down the coast. So I also kept going.

After a while I realized my mistake. I wasn’t lost. I knew I could turn around, but at that point turning around would mean walking for at least six hours. I could do it, but it didn’t sound fun.

So I kept walking forward. I could soon see a town in the distance on the coast. I was pretty sure it was Izola. We had stopped in Izola on my bus from Ljubljana to Piran, which meant if I could get there, then I would eventually be able to find my way back to Piran without having to walk for hours on end.

Hiking in Slovenia

I continued to follow the path along the ridge over the sea. Eventually the trail ended at a road. I kept walking down and forward. The road led to a park (with a much needed bathroom!). From the park there was a promenade along the ocean to a marina. From the marina I walked to the first road I saw and followed the signs pointing to the center of town (it was now clear that I was actually in Izola – yeah!). I walked a few blocks along the road and ran directly into the bus stop. I checked the schedule and the next bus for Piran was coming in 10 minutes.

I’ve thought a lot about this walk. What amazes me most is that I felt no fear. Here I was, walking alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, not entirely sure where I was or where I was going and yet I had complete confidence that it would work out.

We could use a fancy corporate term, like managing ambiguity, to describe my attitude that day, but it really comes down to one thing: faith.

How many times do we need to be reminded of keeping the faith? When the final job interview yet again doesn’t lead to an offer. When you want to be in a relationship and put yourself out there only to be rejected. When the pregnancy test comes back negative. When you’re launching a business, but haven’t landed your first client.

And yet I am reminded of the walk to Izola. Not only did faith lead me to the end I wanted, but it was a beautiful journey. The Adriatic Sea sparkled into infinity. Soft pale green olive trees twisted their branches creating artistic shadows in the grass. The sun shone brilliantly above me. I felt like I was walking in a Van Gogh painting.

Olive grove in Slovenia

I know the journey doesn’t always feel beautiful. Sometimes it’s heart wrenching. It is vulnerable being out there on a ridge, knowing what you want, but unsure when and how it’s going to happen.

But keep the faith. One foot in front of the other. You (and I) will get there eventually.


Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.