Her Journey to Overcome the Odds With Arliss Dudley-Cash
Meet Arliss Dudley Cash. Arliss is not just an international best-selling author, business consultant, and inspirational speaker but also a self-love movement leader! Her unique background in business, neuroscience, and forensics gives her a perspective that's truly one-of-a-kind.
Her story is a testament to the power of resilience, having triumphed over a terminal diagnosis. Arliss believes in the magic of our individual stories and how they can bring about positive change in the world. Her award-winning presentations on self-love, mindful business practices, and body positivity are a true inspiration.
In 2021, she co-founded the Body Positivity Podcast, spreading love and positivity alongside her colleague Diana. Arliss is on a mission to help her clients not just succeed in business but to find joy, authenticity, and freedom in their journey.
In our conversation, Arliss shares her personal struggle with the pressure to fit into predefined roles but reminding us that we have the power to define our own paths. Join us as we explore the beautiful intersection of self-love and business success. Arliss' vision for each of us to become the loves of our own lives is nothing short of extraordinary. To connect with Arliss, visit her website https://www.soullutions.com/
Watch Arliss's Story
Welcome to the I Don't Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you're tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted, or pissed off, you're in the right place.
Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn't have to be in the driver's seat.
I'm your host, Jen Sherwood, and I spent way too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don't give a should – well, not as many anyway, and neither should you. I'm talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.
Today, my guest is Arliss Dudley-Cash. Arliss is a number one international best-selling author, business consultant, self-love coach, and inspirational speaker, and self-love movement leader. I love everything about with a background in business, neuroscience, and forensics. Her career expanded over several industries, including operations management, research science, and death investigation. Arliss unites this eclectic background with her personal journey to overcome the odds and survive a terminal diagnosis.
Her award-winning presentations include topics on extreme self-love, mindful business practices, and body positivity. Arliss is a big believer in the magic of our individual stories and the power of storytelling to affect positive change in this world. In 2021, she co-founded the body positivity podcast, which she hosts with her colleague, Diana, through her company Solutions, LLC. She is passionate about helping her clients to become more powerful, joyful, authentic business owners experiencing freedom, having a lot more fun in their business, and experiencing the success of their dreams.
Arliss’s dream is for each of us to become the loves of our lives - you were talking right before we hit record about just this unique approach you have to combining business and self love and I cannot wait to get this started.
Welcome, Arliss, welcome and thank you so much.
It's such an honor to be here - I can't wait.
I can't wait to hear your story. I've heard a little bit of it, but I did say hold that until we're recording because I want to hear what's going on.
So without any further ado, or less, can you tell us what it was like when you were living under the shoulds?
I love this question and I love what you talk about and your podcast, because I think a lot of people talk about not shoulding on yourself. They don't really think about what it looks like or feels like when they have should on themselves. I would say that the feeling that it evokes in me when I think about this previous part of my life is that it was very heavy. At that time in my life, I had the hair I should, I wore my makeup the way that I should, I wore the clothes that I should, and married the husband that I should marry, and have the job that I should have, and, and all of these things.
None of it made me truly happy, and I definitely didn't do it from a place of self-love or self-acceptance; it was all about molding myself into what I believed other people wanted me to be, to the point of putting my life on the line.
Well, there is so much in there.
I hear exactly what you're saying about whether you were doing what you thought other people wanted you to do or be I can't remember which verb you use. You know, essentially, you were making these choices and going down this path because that's kind of what the next step was going to be and were you was it expressly given to you like, these are the steps maybe from your family, like you're gonna go to college, and you're going to do this.
I mean, I'm guilty of having done that to my own kids, right, like, go to college and prescribing these steps for them, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - they still have choice, but were you expressly told the shoulds? Or do you think it was more just subtle, and you were just responding to them?
It was both, so there were shoulds in my life that were expressly told to me around my education what jobs I would do how I would physically present in the world, and how I would communicate - all of those shoulds were expressed to me. I think that there is a lot of shoulding that goes on just in community and in kind of like the consciousness of humanity, especially for women, right, especially for women and you know, falling into that role.
These dichotomies are out there so how do I become a successful professional at whatever I'm doing, you know, that should have college and higher education and being a successful professional and be an amazing homemaker. All those things are expected to be in the house and wife and potentially look at having children, and all of that, it becomes a place that's not sustainable.
It becomes a place that is not attainable, and for that reason, I felt like I was failing all the time. I think that this is something that a lot of people feel, especially female entrepreneurs.
100% agree there.
It's so interesting - I literally was just in my membership group, and we were talking about this exact thing, how there was a woman and she was struggling, she has a high profile job and a child and she feels like she's falling behind on everything.
We were just talking about how it's like this myth that's been perpetuated, that you can have high success and high this and, you know, you'll be ecstasy in motherhood and in your marriage and in your friendships and in your family and at work, and everything is going to be great.
When we can't achieve that, we feel like we're the only ones who aren't achieving it, so there must be something wrong. If you look at Instagram, every part of everybody else's lives is 100% spot on, and they're, you know, blissful everywhere.
So what the hell is wrong with us and that's so isolating and demoralizing. I hear you 100% - what you're saying?
Along the way, we've kind of lost our humaneness, and what I mean by that is our ability to be okay with missteps. Our ability to be okay with other humans having missteps and missteps are not necessarily mistakes. Sometimes, missteps are the biggest successes we have in our lives that don't look pretty or exactly what we thought that they were gonna look like in that moment.
We get to be human, and we are human, whether we give ourselves permission to be or not. If you give yourself permission to be human and accept our humaneness, then that's a place of love. If we aren't giving ourselves up from a mission to be human, that's a place of hate. And we get to decide how we want to motivate ourselves, whether it's positive motivation or negative motivation.
Oh my goodness, when you just said that piece about not respecting or not recognizing our humaneness - it felt like an exhale.
For me when you said it, like it's permission to just honor that human piece of yourself. We all make mistakes. The opposite of allowing humaneness, would you agree, is like the inner critic, you said, it's hate, so it's this beating ourselves up.
Either we honor and respect that we're very human, and we are going to make mistakes and we are going to fall down, or we sit in this place of beating ourselves up for not being perfect for not being superhuman. When you put it like that, it makes it so clear, and it seems easy, and yet, it's not easy to move from a place of beating yourself up into a place of self-compassion.
So I'm imagining if I walked this back a little bit, that heavy feeling for you, when you were going through this, when you were responding to these expectations that by the way, nobody can live up to, you know, these expectations that are in our culture, our families, our society. There was this heavy feeling for you, so what was happening for you as you were moving through this?
Striving and conformity, and what it all came down to is really overworking myself and every aspect of my life. Being willing and okay with putting my physical and mental health on the line to achieve and not having a regard for what my body, soul or mind needed in order to be healthy.
I didn't even have a concept - I mean, I knew healthy in the sense of somebody physically presenting as not sick but I didn't know the concept of actually being healthy and body in mind at the time.
So interesting, I was just thinking about that.
So often, particularly when we're younger, we are just striving, and it's so behind the striving, I would imagine that was proving you were working really hard to prove yourself. You just don't think about what the toll is, what that's going to take on you until something shows up, generally speaking.
I get asked all the time when I am on a panel and conferences or that sort of thing. What is the biggest cause for entrepreneurs not being successful in their business and the biggest cause that I see is some type of physical or mental breakdown due to overworking where they get to a place of being physically out of the process of being able to work in their business or experiencing extreme burnout or fatigue.
This is what I experienced, too. I wasn't working in a business at the time, I was a graduate student in neuroscience at the time and I had a significant and rapid health decline. That was unexpected, and I was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, which did impact my health decline. I was told that I probably only had about a year to live at the time.
I realized in that moment that in all of that proving, as you said, and striving that I had literally almost overworked myself to death.
Oh, my God, how old were you? I mean, a diagnosis like that at any age is traumatic, but how old were you?
I was 28.
Wow, I cannot imagine what that was like for you.
What can you share?
It was devastating.
I am the biggest gift I've ever been given but at the in the moment, it was devastating.
You know, I had a beautiful home, I was three and a half years into a Ph. D. program, I was dating somebody new, and I was playing softball on the weekends with my friends and had dogs and you know, all the things that people think about as far as like, finally having made it in their life.
It was all taken away in an instant, you know, and, and I didn't know if I was gonna recover. Honestly, at that point, I didn't know if I really wanted to try to recover. I had to, I was devastated and in a place where giving up looked like the easiest option and just allowing how sick I was to take its course.
About six months after my diagnosis, I decided not to give up. I decided it was worth it to try.
Wow, what was it?
What made you change? Or what made you shift?
I felt like, why not - I'm worth it.
I'm worth trying, and I may not be successful. You know, it's so funny because every other part of my life was so driven by being successful. It's like I don't, and I wouldn't even try things if I didn't think I could be successful. Because, you know, because I didn't want to run the risk of being, quote, unquote, failure, right? I was like, why not?
If I succeed, I get to stay here and live a life. If I don't succeed, nothing changes, I'm still in the same position, and I just go further down this path. I think that that was a big turning point for me and one of the reasons why I have been so successful in my business and life now is because I'm just not afraid to ask, I'm not afraid to try. I'm not afraid to fall completely flat on my face in front of a group of people and then get up and try again.
It's so much less scary for me to try new things now because I already tried the thing that would be the hardest thing not to be successful, and so everything else, even if I don't succeed, it doesn't. It's just a blip.
I love this so much.
Yet I still like to ask you one thing from as this journey was progressing, so you said after the six months, you decided I'm worth it. In the six months before, were you a person who thought you were worthy of your own affection, attention, that sort of thing, or was this the shift?
Oh, I not only did not think I was worthy, and did not have a self love practice, didn't even understand the concept of self love.
I used shame, blame threats to motivate myself - that was like that was my bread and butter of how I moved myself forward in my life and I will say that it will be successful up to a point.
Negative motivation is successful up to a point, and then it will not be successful anymore, and it will cause people to take a downturn, and that's exactly what I experienced, too. I think that the shift happened because I realized that I had put everything else in front of my own health, and everything else in front of my own well, being my partner, my parents, my family, my friends, my career, my pets, everything. I had to get to a point where the only thing I had left was to give my was myself was to give to myself.
You were saying, you know that that shame, blame, that sort of thing can be motivating to a point, now that you have successfully been that person versus the person who's motivated from a place of self-love. I have to imagine, but I want to hear what it's like for you that that motivation feels differently in how things are executed and in your fulfillment or enjoyment of your life.
Coming from a place of proving and shame or whatever the motivation was, it doesn't sound like it was a good motivator versus now. Can you talk a little bit about that for women who may still be very much in shame and blame like, what is it like now when your motivation comes from true self-love?
Well, and I will say that making the shift can feel really scary, because if we have had something that has helped us up to this point, choosing something different and new, can feel scary, and now motivating from a place of moderate a positive motivation, you know, compassion, gentleness, self, love, kindness, all of those things.
It's like being able to breathe because there's no pressure or tension, there's no sadness, there's no anger, that I'm directing at myself - there's no judgment. I'm not saying that I'm 100% of this all the time. Self-love is a journey, and there are peaks and valleys in that, and I'm always learning more about how I can love myself. It takes away that heaviness - it lightens everything up, and it makes doing things so much easier.
It just feels like being able to take that breath, and I know that we have all been there, where we felt under pressure, or we felt deep shame, or felt unworthy. We almost can't breathe from that weight, and when we move into a place of self-love, it's like, it's like taking that full, deep breath and feeling the whole chest and abdomen expand - t's like luxurious, almost,
Oh my gosh, I love the contrast.
That feeling of heavy we all know of when something feels really heavy and weighty and difficult. And I'm almost imagining a boulder sitting on top of the chest impacting the breathing. That was kind of a sense I got when you said heavy, and so when you said it feels like you can breathe, just light and airy. That is so inspiring and motivating and my head is going so many different directions that I want to go with you because I find this conversation so fascinating but coming from that place of positive mode of motivation. I just love how you're describing the feeling.
Arliss, can I just kind of put you on the spot for a second but I'm wondering so I can imagine a huge percentage of women who are listening to us right now have zero idea how to love themselves. So is there just like, is there one thing that someone can implement today to start shifting out of that heavy into this place of being able to breathe?
Yeah, the most impactful practice that I have experienced and seen my clients experience is looking at themselves in the mirror and saying to themselves, I love you. Start where you can if the first time you go to look yourself in the mirror, you can barely make eye contact, just practice making eye contact it may take a period of time to get to the point where you can say I love you to yourself in the mirror and really feel that it's true and they mean it and that's okay.
There are days when I do it that it doesn't feel as true as other days, and that's okay, too. Yeah. I imagine a world where it's normal for people to wake up, and that is something that everyone does around the world.
Oh my God, I want to live in that world.
I do, too - I want to live in that world!
Because that's not how particularly women are raised.
In fact, I will say this is just silly, but my older brother used to walk around our house when we were growing up. He's a teenager, and he used to walk around singing, I'm so beautiful to himself. You would not catch girls who are not raised that way. We're raised in a way like looks are super, super important, and this is part of the value that we bring to the culture.
That's what we're raised to believe but if you worry about your looks, you're conceited and selfish - there are all these conflicting messages and yet, and we're not talking about superficial look in the mirror, say you love yourself. That's not what we're talking about, but women aren't socialized to love themselves - we're not! I want to live in this world, too.
I think that, you know, the biggest shift that we can do is to try to take the comparison out of things, we are all our own individual humans. Our body expressions are unique to us, there's no possible way, even through surgery, to look identical to another person.
You know, even identical twins eventually look a little bit different just because of the natural aging process. If we can take the comparison out of it or, or even recognize when it's happening, that can be a huge step towards self love.
Oh, my gosh, comparisonitis is so defeating.
We don't feel better about ourselves by trying to climb on the backs of someone else like, well, at least I'm better than that or worse than this - neither direction is useful.
So how did this influence you because you have this amazing business, working with entrepreneurs and bringing in self-love practices, and how did this lead you to the work that you're doing now?
Well, you know, and I said that getting that diagnosis was one of the biggest gifts of my life. It is because I get to do what I do now, and I get to live a life where I get to teach these practices, and I also get to teach the nuts and bolts of business.
I'm super nerdy, and I have an MBA, and I love the nuts and bolts of business. I love how businesses work. I love working with entrepreneurs on getting organized and putting in processes and systems and all those nerdy things. I love all of that, and in order to be really successful in business, we have to love ourselves. There's research that shows that when we have higher emotional intelligence, we make more money about $1,600 per emotional intelligence point actually.
Mindfulness is incredibly important for decision making in business, and entrepreneurs that practice mindfulness are more successful in business. There was a research study done in 2020 that showed that the biggest impact on resilience in business to survive the pandemic was the ability of the business owner to be self-compassionate.
Wow, that is incredible. It seems like these two industry disciplines seem not compatible, and yet, they're so entirely compatible and maybe even interdependent, you could say.
I mean, if we look at people that are really successful in business, long term, they are working on growth within themselves, they are working on these principles. Now, they may not talk about it in the boardroom, but they are certainly enacting them in their business and with the people that they are interacting with and they are choosing to do business with those who are doing the same.
You beat or you have learned to live with or I don't, I actually shouldn't make assumptions about where your health is at. I'm sitting here looking at this really vibrant, healthy-looking woman who has presumably outlived that initial what they said you had - I'm thankful for that, so you went from heavy you got this life-changing diagnosis.
What is life like now? You've done this massive amount of work, you have this business that you love, what is life like now?
Life is so much fun and I have so much to play in my life and honestly, working in my business feels like playing a lot of the time and I have silliness and all of those things and love and care and really wonderful people. I am very healthy now - it's been almost 10 years.
I have changed almost every single way I show up in the world, from how I speak to myself to what I put in my body, to the clothes that I wear, and you know, even the health professionals that I have supporting me.
I think that that's something that's important to say, too, is that your journey to health is really your journey, and you get to make it look like what you want it to look like. With my business, which is Soullutions, I really get to, to bridge the gap between the soul that we have in this human form, right?
What does that mean for us as humans doing business and how do we do business really well and that, again, comes down to the science behind business. It comes down to the soul connection to how we do business and how we're treating ourselves. Honestly, if you would have asked me five years ago that this is, you know, is this what you think you'll do, I would have laughed you out of the room, because I would have never thought that it would have been impossible.
I mean, we don't see this talked about much in the business world. And I want it to become normal. I want mindfulness, emotional intelligence, self love, self compassion, all of those things to become normal in the business world.
I love it.
What a fantastic goal to have as your it seems like it's like your north star like this is what you're moving towards, this is what's guiding you.
So Arliss, I can't imagine whether people listening are entrepreneurs or not, they might want a little more Arliss in their daily lives. So tell us we will put all of this in the show notes for those of you listening, but tell us how people can find you?
My website is: https://www.soullutions.com/
I'm on social media as Arliss Dudley-Cash and Solutions - I do a lot of public speaking and that sort of thing. You can also just google me, and there'll be talks that come up and that sort of thing.
I love connecting with people, I have a daily I love you list that I have dozens of people on and I send out daily, I love you messages by so you know I love to connect with people and and I love to support entrepreneurs, whether they think I'm a good fit as a business consultant for them or not. I do a ton of networking.
I would love to connect, and I would love to connect you to the people that you need in your life.
Yeah, amazing. I will attest to that because Arliss and I had our first conversation. I don't even remember, it was weeks, months ago, I don't remember. She's already connected me to some incredible women.
So I can attest to how networking is just part of who you are, and you really do know who people need to talk to, so thank you for that.
Thank you so much for being on the show - it's just a joy to have you here.
Thank you, and thank you for what you're doing and having this conversation.
This conversation changes lives, and we need more of this in the world.
Oh, thank you for saying that because I think so too. The more we can spread self-love and the more we can get out from under shoulds and expectations, the better.
So, alright, Arliss, thanks so much for being here, and to those of you listening - I'll see you next time.