Super important question for you today, lovelies…

Do you have healthy boundaries?

Boundaries are foundational to creating a life in which were secure knowing someone truly has our back. That somone is YOU! Think of them like an invisible rule book that teaches friends, family members and co-workers how to interact with us. Knowing when to loosen or build them up can completely shift our world as we know it.

When someone trespasses our invisible line its common to feel angry, anxious even gross. Maybe all at the same time! Not surprisingly, this isn’t limited to romantic relationships since our biggest testers of our boundaries are most often the human beings closest to us.

Sahar Andrade Mb.BCh. connects the importance of boundaries in both personal and professional relationships in this article published in Forbes. She links that fundamental to greater satisfaction and success. And in my own coaching practice, clients often have areas where boundaries could use some tweaking, theyre either too rigid or too weak.

Do either of these feel familiar to you?…

Too Rigid
Ah, the accomplished Diva. She is usually a professional powerhouse, independant and decisive. Her boundaries are so solid, she often has relationship challanges. She feels respected but lonely. She very much wants to trust herself and share that trust with others but her fear of eventual abandonment holds her back. Her desire for control blocks one of the most important ingrediants to connection, vulnerability. When you realize your boundaries are rigid, one small baby steps towards the other direction is a great first step.

Too Weak

This is the People Pleaser AKA Care-giver. She’s frequently exhausted and oversheduled. The simple thought of creating conflict feels awful. She wants to get along with everyone at the expense of her own self-care and overall well-being. A good indication of weak boudaries is feeling a lack of power. She has a hard time standing up for herself when she feels taken advantage of. As Oprah says “she has the disease to please.”Another way to measure weak boundaries, is the word “yes” flies out of your mouth before you blink an eye. You have zero interest, time or money but yes it always is.. The people pleaser often takes on the care-taker role and ends up feeling resentful. Learning to say no will get her on her way to prioritizing her passions.

Is There A Middle Ground?

Unreasonable boundaries do not serve you or others well. So just when you thought you were doomed to be a Diva or a Doormat, there is a healthy middle ground!

“Boundaries are not just about getting what you want. It’s about you getting to live your life on your own terms.” ~Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh

There are four amazing benefits of setting healthy boundaries in life:

  1. You reach goals faster. Prioritizing everyone else’s needs puts your own goals and projects on the back burner. When you reflect on your values and create healthy boundaries to protect them, you progress in all areas of your life much faster.

2. Your self-worth increases. If you take away one small offering from this article, let it be this one. Why? Because your level of self-worth is directly linked to the quality of your life. It is also connected to your identity and your story about your place in this world. Knowing and expressing your “ok’s” and “not ok’s” builds trust within your beautiful self. When you rely on anyone or anything outside of yourself as your sole source of love, attention or validation you feel powerless. Expressing courage and integrity, despite risking unfavorable consequences this boosts your self-worth. It also makes you unbelievable attractive!

3. You enjoy healthier relationships. When someone crosses your boundaries, you feel it. You may not be aware of what exactly youre feeling but you know something is off. Boundaries clearly communicate what behaviors you find acceptable or unacceptable from others around you. They also define what you’re willing to accept responsibility for and what you aren’t. True intimacy and safety in relationships cannot exist without them. Healthy boundaries create trust and strengthen relationships.

4. You feel more respected. Flimsy boundaries do not make you more likable. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s undeniable that people with strong boundaries command more respect. When you know how to calmly and firmly say NO, when faced with overwhelm, unreasonable deadlines, or expectations, you teach people how you want to be treated. Honor yourself and others will too. This one is super tough for me personally but Im working on it.

Yeah… But How?

First, identify and write your values so you can see them clearly. They are like a compass to your most purposeful life. Second, write down which of your boundaries (or lack there of), go against your core values and which can be enforced with greater flexibility. If one of your values is human connection and you are staring at a computer screen for 40-50 hrs/week working as an accountant, you will get a knock on your internal door. It will shout something like “HEY! PAY ATTENTION something needs to change.” Thirdly, reach out to a friend, support group, therapist or coach to bounce thoughts on what you are unsure of. Sharing what your fears and getting feedback from someone you trust will help put things in perspective. The bestselling book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control Of Your Life by Cloud & Townsend is a great resource to help you set limits.

The more you practice establishing well-defined boundaries, the more people will treat you as a worthy, self-respecting individual. And as your self-esteem becomes stronger, the stronger the boundaries you can implement.

Implimenting healthy boundaries is the quickest way to remember who you are and take your power back. Be patient with yourself. This takes time but you can succeed. If you’re self-sabotaging opportunities or potential relationships, please feel free to message me on Instagram. The link is below my bio. I offer a complimentary session and would LOVE to chat with you 🙂



Irene is the creator of the Happiness Within Reach program which coaches single, freedom loving women on the foundational skills of building a meaningful relationship with themselves so they can attain the love they dream of. She is an ICF, Certified Personal coach who holds two certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. She is also an Amazon best-selling co-author of the book How To Be Crazy Amazing During Difficult Times and has been interviewed on podcasts such as Chat With Leaders and Beyond Barriers. Her mission is to remind women of their indisputable worthiness and capability of creating the extraordinary soul on fire life that is their birthright. Connect with her on Instagram.

Benevolently Sexist or Chivalrous? Whichever, More Please!

life coaching los angeles

I have missed you and am so excited to get back to writing you!

Let me preface by saying I know for some; this post might stir up big emotions. My intention is to offer you a wider lens with which to view some well-meaning men that live by a set of traditional masculine morals. I won’t be focusing on what I believe to be the exceptions; men that pay for dates expecting sex in return or those that offer to carry heavy grocery bags implying we are too weak to do it ourselves.

I’m speaking of gentlemen. Yes, I know, they actually exist! The well-educated men that respect women’s professional drive and accomplishments but simultaneously feel good about taking the initiative of asking a woman out on a proper date, paying for most and making sure she is safe by walking on the traffic side of the street.

I can hear some of you thinking “great Irene but what the hell is benevolent sexism?” I’m glad you asked because I had never heard of the term before last night, but felt inspired to learn more. It refers to a theoretical framework developed by social psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fiske which reinforces traditional gender roles signaling women need to be protected by men.

One study posted on Journals.sagepub.com published by Kathleen Connelly and Martin Heesacker explains that even though previous research proposes benevolent sexism as an ideology that sustains gender inequality; some very much support it, as it has also been linked to greater life satisfaction. Besides these findings Connelly is against it as it presumes “women are wonderful but weak.”

Although the second- wave feminism movements overarching goal was to achieve gender equality, it confused the hell out of many men that value more traditional behaviors. Gentlemen in the baby-boomer generation knew how women expected to be treated. They had a more courteous approach towards women. Men wanted to lead and believed it was their role to provide a certain type of security; financial and physical towards women they loved. Today roles are undefined both men and women aren’t sure how to act, what to say and what is actually desired by the other.

I had such an interesting coaching session last week with a charming Gen-X male entrepreneur whose topic of conversation sparked my curiosity and moved me to dive a little deeper on this subject. He said he was raised to believe it was common courtesy to open doors for women and pay for dates but sometimes felt torn to act with integrity as he didn’t want to be viewed as a sexist ass.

As a result of this conversation, what really sparked my interest was, what do women, especially devoted feminists feel about men that express some old school courting?

A study of 782 women in 5 experiments conducted by Pelin Gul a post-doctoral research fellow in the Dept of Psychology at Iowa State University found that women were more attracted to benevolently sexist men than their counterparts, despite knowing these men were more likely to be patronizing and controlling.

The findings show women interpret men who confidently go after what they want and cherish women as signs of a partner that will commit, protect and provide. The reality is, women want men who make them feel physically, emotionally and financially safe, period. This is the case no matter how professionally successful they are.

Drinking the Kool Aid of women don’t need men and we can have and do it all on our own came with the cost of believing we should be doing everything on our own. This led to a whole lot of high-achieving but lonely women.

There has never been a time in history where women had more pressure or expectations on their shoulders. We’re juggling building businesses, managing employees and doing whatever it takes to keep up with the ridiculous cultural beauty expectations while simultaneously taking on twice as much on child care and housework. How much more fulfilling would our lives be if we released some of our control and allowed these men to take the lead and do more for us?

Wishing you a wonderful rest of your day!

P.S. I would love to be connected with you on Instagram and see what you too are up to.

You can find me @Irene.abbou


Irène Abbou


Image by: Nathan Fertig


Once in a while we are given a moment when our hearts soften and we dare to imagine an even more inspiring existence than we ever have before.

Despite my imagination taking me to dark places during this craziness, this morning was one filled with grace. As I sat weary-eyed warmly wrapped in my pink blanket sipping my coffee, I felt a rush of hope and dare I say a glimpse of excitement for the near future. It was as if my inner relentless three-year-old who tirelessly pushes me to keep on keeping on, found a moment of serenity of her own.

The wiser part of me was reminded that with some stillness and silence our innate fairy G-D mother has the courage to sit beside us, hold us warmly and show us that life can still be full of magic, even in the midst of uncertainty.

I know we collectively fear the ground beneath is crumbling. What is really happening is the roots of our beautiful earth of mother nature are resourcing and re-energizing to create an even more solid ground for us to feel safe on. I also know these current circumstances are not easy. I have days where I feel like I’m going to lose my mind but in the center of my heart I know we are all so much more resilient and capable of adapting than we give ourselves credit for.

Being physically separated from our loved ones, the ambiguity of keeping our jobs combined with the anxiety of not knowing when we will be able to leave our homes without feeling suffocated by a mask will not last forever. This will end. As we speak it is slowly coming to an end.

So, if right now your logical brain took a trip to burning man leaving you in a state of mush-brain cabin fever funk, be compassionate with yourself.

If you’re feeling scared, angry or confused…. its ok.

If your work-outs have gone to shit ……its ok

If your evening glass of wine has turned into two ….. its ok

If you haven’t washed your hair in three days….. its ok.

If, in a few days or a couple of hours you have a little more energy, its also ok to take a ten min yoga class on YouTube, start the first page of your book, brainstorm a more exciting career path or simply take a soothing shower. Warm showers always make such a difference for me when my mind needs friendly reminder that it’s not the boss of me. Do whatever feel’s right for you at this moment, with an open heart and zero judgement.

Old unhealthy energy is clearing, new inspiring energy is entering and wonderful things are on their way to you.

We really are all in this together.

You are not alone!

If you don’t have anyone to reach out to, I am here. Email me at irene@happinesswithinreach.com and we can share a conversation over a cup of tea.

If you know someone that may feel alone, please reach out and remind them that they too are not alone. Let’s be there for one another and remember that there is no greater healer than the power of human connection.

Sending Love & Light,

Irene Abbou



The Most Important Steps to Radical Self-Confidence

Ever notice how the dream-achieving goddesses show up with this irresistible larger than life je ne sais pas quoi aura? Do you ever wonder where they learned to command not only everybody else’s attention, but yours as well?

Does someone else’s success lead to a bit of frustration when their education and skills don’t compare to yours, but they are killing it in a field that you are most passionate about? I’ve been there and it’s a difficult chair to be sitting in. But more importantly, are you interested in knowing why this scenario happens so often?

Through the research of Claire Shipman and Katty Kay authors of The Confidence Code, success is connected more closely with confidence than competence. The evidence shows that when it comes to getting ahead, confidence is more important than ability.

You’re probably asking yourself well since self-confidence is fundamental to our success, how do we get more of it?

Let’s begin with the good news, which is, confidence is a skill all of us can cultivate. The only pre-requisite to joining this club is a willingness to try and view the discomfort of failure as the most important stepping stone to authentic confidence.

An example of a missed opportunity is when women looking for a job never even apply due to their lack of confidence. According to the internal report done by Hewlett Packard, men apply to jobs when meeting only 60% of qualifications. Women on the other hand apply only when they meet 100%. This has absolutely nothing to do with the women’s capabilities but instead Imposture Syndrome (not feeling deserving of getting the job), which resulted in women not trying, hence missing out on acquiring the position.

All of this ties back to what I like to call the perfectionist versus the risk-taker. The risk-taker knows that the only thing she truly risks by taking action is an emotion. She also acknowledges that the cost of inaction will perpetuate the negative story she tells herself of who she is, her character.To reach dream-achieving confidence, we must BE the type of person who does what is necessary to be confident first. Women need to take the actions of a confident person, hence doing whatever they believe could be the next right step, and being ok with failure. I’ll even go as far as to say SEEK FAILURE as the more failures you get, the closer you will be to succeeding. Would you tell your 2yr old niece who’s trying to walk but continuously falls on her cute little butt, “you know… maybe you’re not cut out for this walking thing?” Of course not! You would encourage her to keep trying until she walks!

Tim Ferris bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek wrote: If you telescope out ten years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret and define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,” inaction is the most significant risk of all.” The risk-taker understands that the more she takes action and fails, the more she masters her skills, and with mastery comes greater self-confidence! And guess what? The more confident we earn, the more action we take and the bigger our accomplishments.


Here are the foolproof steps to build radical self-confidence:

1.Willingness to try

2.Take Action


4. Adjust


“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” ~Michael Jordan

May we all wake up each morning with the willingness to try, get in that ring, consistently fail forward to our most confident, playful version of ourselves.

With Love,




Irene is the creator of the Margot Method which coaches professional success driven women to open their hearts to self-love while forming deep and vulnerable relationships with others. She is an ICF, ACC Certified life and business coach who holds certifications from the University of Pennsylvania on Positive Psychology and is trained in the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy. This integrates forty years of scientific research, based on the Sound Relationship House Theory. Irene has helped hundreds of women get reacquainted with their hearts most


Professional women’s guide to true fulfillment

By: Irene Abbou

Have you ever experienced an a-ha moment that transformed your entire perception of what was important? About six months ago on my 6am jog/walk in Hancock Park, while hugging Edward my favorite cherry blossom tree, something hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as if a mish mashed message I have always known existed at the deepest center of my gut put on newly prescribed superhero glasses.

What if the secret to modern day success is living our lives with a more holistic feminine approach?

You know how we were taught that if we just reached these mile stones like graduate college, accomplish more, compete more, and prove our value more; we would finally have earned the right to happiness in all aspects of our lives?

The holistic feminine approach says the opposite…its foundation being, create space for happiness and schedule what feeds our body (exercise, rest, healthy nutrients), heart (genuine relationships) and soul (play, spiritual practices, quiet, nature) first. Second, be 100% clear on how we want to feel and who we want to be more of. Thirdly, start everyday with the intention of embodying this new version of you. Productivity and results will flow naturally when we give our divine feminine energies a voice to collaborate with our masculine strengths.

For example lets say you recognize that you are a control chaser but you desire to feel more flexible and be more vulnerable; instead of succumbing to the autopilot version of you that gets triggered at certain weekly meetings,

Ask yourself:

Is the stress I am inflicting on myself via my thoughts getting me closer to being more flexible and vulnerable?

Why was being more flexible and vulnerable important to me?

Is this current thought useful?

What do I need to let go of to embody this new version of myself?

How can I integrate a 5 min rest and repair ritual when I become emotionally charged?

The holistic feminine approach is being committed to how we want to be as women, growing the whole self while being intentional about how we desire to feel while reaching our professional goals.

Shift from:

  • Getting Ahead to Feeling Alive
  • Competitive to Collaborative
  • Looks Good to Feels Good
  • Results to Experience

Although this idea of embracing our feminine superpowers goes against our cultures, get ahead at all costs path to the American success story, it’s the key to fulfillment! Imagine a culture that encourages real human connections, collaboration and a sense of safety in and out of our workplace. We can create this for ourselves, everyday.

This is modern feminine success.

This is what I know is possible for all of us.

Irene is the creator of the 90 DAYS TO HAPPY program which coaches success driven women to open their hearts to self-love while forming deep and vulnerable relationships with others. She is and ICF Certified Life coach, trained in the Gottman Method for couples therapy and is also certified by University of Pennsylvania in Positive Psychology Applications & Interventions.