Seven Gateways to Enchantment
By Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
THE ENCHANTED SELF: A Positive Therapy and
RECIPES FOR ENCHANTMENT: The Secret Ingredient is
Originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF®,
Dedicated to Delight, Purpose and of course,
Feeling Good About Ourselves!
When I began to call the special part of ourselves
that can be found somewhere between the mind, body,
spirit and heart THE ENCHANTED SELF®, women expressed
their appreciation over and over again. "Thank you
giving a name to this special part of myself," and
"This is the part of me that I always devalued and
ignored because I thought I wasn't entitled to it. Now
that you've identified it, I feel justified in
developing this part of myself!"
THE ENCHANTED SELF is indeed a very special part of each
woman. You may not have given it a name, you may have
dismissed it as trivial, perhaps unimportant in the
scheme of a hectic busy, demanding life; but deep inside
you’ve yearned to find it and let it out. There comes
a moment in every woman's life when it is time bask in
your personal delight, happiness and joy. When that time
comes, and now that we know it as THE ENCHANTED SELF, we
can proudly enjoy it and hold onto it.
But what are the tools to get to THE ENCHANTED SELF part
of ourselves? What skills do we need in order to capture
and hold onto this special part of ourselves?
This paper outlines the tools for you. It will show you
how to walk through “Seven Gateways to Enchantment.”
It will start you on your journey through each Gateway,
giving you knowledge about it, a case study vignette to
connect you to the journey, and an activity to speed you
on your way. May you quickly become a delighted
Enchanted Self, and may Enchantment follow you every
First Gateway: Honoring what is Right about
Rather Than What is Wrong
As women, we're all experts in identifying what is
wrong with ourselves. We can probably quickly make up a
long list, detailing what is wrong in our lives.
However, it's a lot harder to get in touch with what is
We need to know ourselves in positive ways. We need to
learn how to honor our talents, strengths, even our
coping skills which serve us so well. And most
important, we need to treasure and enjoy our potential.
These parts of us, if not honored, identified and talked
about both to ourselves and to others, will lose their
power. We have to ignite them and nurture their
specialness. We need to get to know ourselves in ways
that emphasize the heroic, strong parts of ourselves.
This means using our memories in very different ways
from what we've been accustomed to. It means searching
through our history to find our talents, strengths and
even lost potential, even if we have to sort through
pounds of dysfunction. It means searching our past for
what is right about ourselves, not for what is wrong.
Stacie had very negative feelings toward her mother and
her aunt, who would both often put her down and
criticize her. However, once she was well into her
therapy, she began to enjoy sorting through her past,
realizing that many of the talents and strengths she had
acquired had been based either by example from these
women, or by compensating for their deficits. By
example, she had learned to sew, cook and have the best
vegetable garden that anyone could imagine, even while
working full time. By compensating, she learned to guard
her tongue and never jump to criticize others. This
latter capacity has served her well in her job, while
the former gave her day-to-day pleasure in hobbies and
in good food.
A Positive Activity for You
Pick a time period from earliest childhood to the
present. Find a quiet spot, a quiet time, and begin to
list the talents, strengths, coping skills and potential
that you got and currently display from that time
period. You may have to sort through disappointments and
hurts, but you will still find a way to label what's
right about yourself.
Take your time. Keep this list with you, and add to it
over the next few weeks or even months. Read it again
and again to reinforce within you what is right within
you, rather than what is wrong.
Gateway Two: Falling in Love with Ourselves
This is an extremely important gateway. This gateway is
achieved after we have made efforts to reclaim and honor
our talents, capacities, strengths, lost potential and
Now we are ready. We no longer break our hearts by
putting ourselves down and saying "No, no, you
can't do that," or "You're stupid."
Now we are ready to say, "Yes, I love myself. I
have a lot to offer. I am capable of having fun. I am
capable of doing good, and no one can sidetrack me from
who I really am."
When you fall in love with yourself, you begin to feel
the positive self-esteem that comes when we don't
deflate ourselves. You're ready to take yourself out for
tea or to that wonderful spa for a day, or to go back
and play the piano, which you always wanted to do.
You're ready to recognize all the tools of wisdom that
you have to offer. You're ready to recognize that you
have an Enchanted Self that deserves to be part of your
When you love yourself, you know when you need help. You
know when you need guidance. It isn't a narcissistic
love where you feel that you are perfect. It's a love of
yourself, as you would love a child. If the child is
ill, you take the child to the doctor. If the child
comes home with a good paper from school, you put it on
the refrigerator. It's a self-acknowledgment that makes
you viable, real, and whole. Now you've become really
ready to see the story of your life in a positive light.
Even the disappointments, even tragedies have served
only to hone you like tempered steel. You've been
through the battles and have emerged stronger. You're in
charge of your own self, a most wonderful feeling!
Charlotte was constantly demeaned and criticized by her
husband. Once she fell in love with herself, she had the
courage to no longer put up with his attacks. When he
became verbally abusive, she left the house and
indicated that if he was not in a better mood and could
not behave more appropriately when she returned home,
she would leave for good.
Her husband slowly mended his ways and became less
verbally inappropriate as time went on. And because
Charlotte had learned to love herself, she found that
she was able to do what she needed to do for herself.
This included becoming more independent and spending
time away from her husband.
Perhaps another woman would have left, but for her it
made sense to build a world that still included him, but
also included her own time for herself - for sports,
spas, individual time with her grandchildren, time to
enjoy music, time alone with women friends.
Although she stayed, she had become strong. Her love of
herself made her conceivably able to leave at any point
in time if she was not treated appropriately. Her
husband realized this, and did not test the waters too
deeply. A satisfactory conclusion had been reached, due
to Charlotte's "new" self.
Positive Activity for You
Think about the story of your life. Think about it in
positive terms where every hurdle ultimately resulted in
some wisdom or in a turn in the road which had some good
in it. Start to tell the story of your life to yourself,
making yourself the heroine, and remember to make
yourself a lovable heroine. You may find yourself going
over the same material that we've talked about before,
merely giving it a different twist to more clearly
identify your talents, strengths and potential. Enjoy
the positive story of your life. Discover how special
you really are.
Gateway Three: Learning to Meet Our Needs
and Negotiate Successfully
There's nothing more demoralizing than a woman who
does not know how to speak up for herself, who doesn't
have a voice for herself. When we feel ignored or not
understood, we can feel rage and anger building.
So often as women we find ourselves in a predicament
where we don't know how to speak up. We simply don't
know how to negotiate for what we want. While sometimes
it's a cultural attitude that we've taken on, for
instance that women should be demure, quiet, and modest,
often it's due to a lack of understanding the
appropriate skill-set necessary for negotiating
effectively. All of these factors put a tremendous
pressure on our true capacities. Our future happiness or
fulfillment is restricted simply because we don't know
the right road to get there.
Learning how to meet our needs and how to negotiate
appropriately is a lot of work, but the satisfaction far
outweighs the work. When you have been able to speak
with integrity to a husband, mother-in-law or a boss,
when you have been able to finish a level of training
that moves you ahead professionally, you're really
living your Enchanted Self. You feel as special as you
deserve to feel. It's worth every moment of effort.
Deborah had been hiding the bookshelves under her side
of the bed for so long, she couldn't remember how many
years they had been there.
Why were they under the bed? Because when she had
brought them home, pretty and ornate with fancy wrought
iron underpinnings, her husband had belittled the
purchase and belittled her. "Those were stupid
purchases," he had said. "They're too ornate.
They're flimsy. They'll fall off the wall. You don't
even know how to put them up. And don't think I'll help
you." Finishing his tirade, he had turned around
and stormed out of the room.
Deborah felt devastated. Not only had she believed they
were perfect for the family room, but they had reminded
her of some lovely built-in mahogany shelving that her
grandmother used to have. But apparently that was then
and this was now. It obviously didn’t fit into “now.”
Her husband had just told her so.
Back in therapy, Deborah confronted once again some of
the pain and inertia she had been living with, as well
as the pain that was a result of the negative
interactions that had continued between her husband and
herself. She was determined to move ahead emotionally
and to finally gain some resiliency.
While she wasn't ready to leave her husband, she was
ready to put up those shelves. One day she took them out
from under her side of the bed, brought them into the
hardware store and obtained the appropriate advice and
Much to her satisfaction, when she put the shelves where
she had wanted to so many years ago, not only were they
securely placed, but they really pulled the family room
together. The finishing touch to the room was putting
things on the shelves that had actually come from her
grandmother's beautiful apartment. The last item, a
photograph of her grandmother as a young girl, made the
shelves fully come to life.
She waited in slight trepidation for her husband to
remark about her enterprise. She said nothing, and
interestingly enough he said nothing either for many
weeks, seeming not even to notice them. He finally did
comment on them, saying, "Oh, those look
While it still wasn't a perfect marriage, and the
shelves had slept much too long under the bed, Deborah
was much happier that she had finally begun to meet her
A Positive Activity for You
Think about different situations that you're in where
you may need to meet your needs or learn to negotiate
for them more successfully. Pick a situation that you
probably can handle more effectively than you now are,
without having to make a great deal of change in your
Perhaps you would like to negotiate more successfully
with your husband about which restaurant to go to the
next time you go out. Think about some of the ways that
you can make clear what your needs are, and what you are
willing to give in return if there has to be some
compromising or conceding. When it's timely, go ahead
and practice being clearer about whatever the situation
is that you have chosen to discuss. And don't get
discouraged. Remember that learning to speak up clearly
and directly on our own behalf takes practice.