“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela
Since my earliest years I was always in search of better. A better life, a better job, a better relationship, and most importantly, a better me.
I know I'm not alone, but the statistics are sad. 52% of women say they want change but find it difficult to take the next steps.
Many women struggle with moving away from behavior that sabotages their best interests. They feel defeated by negative self-talk, and compromise their needs by trying to please others, and give in to other people's demands. And they may try to control everything so they can feel safe.
I was that person for a long time.
Over many decades I have undergone great shifts in my thinking and behavior and often think about the ways in which we, as women, undermine our ability to take full ownership and authority of our skills, talents, and personal space to elevate our careers and life.
The many ways in which we lose opportunities because of insecurity and belief in our abilities, or the inability to ask for what we want. The ways in which we sublimate our own desires for the sake of others.
The narratives of women’s lives are written in the ways we serve. We are traditionally the bearers of children and may lose our sense of self in service to the children we bring into this world.
We nurture out of habit, and we compromise in our relationships at home and at work to appease, and keep the peace. We seek to please, and struggle to feel validated. We live with self-doubt, and wonder if we are good enough to do the jobs we’ve signed on for.
We wonder if we are capable of achieving the things we say we desire, and often sabotage our best efforts by turning away at the last moment from the opportunities offered because we fear failing or becoming successful.
This was my story. And it is not unique.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling the globe, explored many different cultures and engaged with thousands of people over my lifetime.
I’ve had hundreds of conversations that explored the depths of human emotions and experiences, and the aspirations we dream of but rarely achieve.
I’ve shared deep emotions with strangers and felt the power of the body through metaphysical and physical experiences. I’ve come to know myself in ways I never thought possible.
In short, I’ve lived a full life, and at the age of 71 it’s far from over.
Working with women for the last eighteen years I’ve seen my experiences reflected in their lives. The illusions we live by. The stories we tell ourselves that are not the truth of who we really are. The ways in which we try to control our lives by controlling the people around us. The lies we tell ourselves about our capabilities, and the undermining of our potential.
Getting honest with yourself is hard because you must shatter your illusions. Letting go of the stories you have depended on for years is a bit like clearing out a house after you’ve lived in it for decades, and you must throw out the things you thought you needed.
To create a new narrative of who you think you are you must get real and honest with yourself, and that is never easy. Which is why most people don’t even want to try.
When we examine the illusions and stories that give birth to the fears, insecurities, uncertainties, and lack of belief in self we discover there is far more to self than we can imagine.
It takes courage to be willing to confront your own B.S. and decide to think and be different.
There’s a reason mental health services thrive. Decades of therapy, coaching, teaching, and retreats taught me how to see myself differently, and claim ownership of my talents and experiences so I could claim greater authority in the world. Literally becoming an author.
The friction of thoughtful examination of who you think you are, and why you do the things you do is key to our growth. The push pull of fear over the overwhelming need for certainty and security is the ever-constant battle.
In the discomfort of breaking down the illusions, we settle for less, escape into status quo, and decide that’s it’s as good as it gets. We allow ourselves to settle for what is, rather than what could be.
Shattering these illusions is the work I do with my clients. It is a coming home to the true self when you realize how much you have limited your potential with fear of change, negative self-judgment, and lack of belief in your capability to create a more profound experience of self.
Consider the following questions:
- What messages did you receive growing up that helped or hindered your ability to trust that you were okay?
- How did it stop you from achieving all the success you want in your relationships, career, creative life, etc.
- What benefits do you gain by avoiding or refusing to change?
These challenges are not just women, but men also. We live in our bubbles and feel secure in the knowledge that we are probably doing better than most. But how do you know that to be true? How do you feel? How do you measure the degrees of comfort you have constructed in your life? By status, material success, or career success? What's missing?
I ask these questions not because I don’t believe that the lives we create for ourselves are untrue, or not relevant, but that we have so much more we can discover if we are willing to be totally honest with who we are, and who we want to become. If we are willing to take the 'hero’s journey.'
“The privilege of a lifetime is knowing who you are.” – Joseph Campbell.
We all have blindspots, and it is only through true and honest self-reflection that we can hold them up to the light and discover the power of self. This takes courage and as I like to say, being fearless is not the absence of fear but the courage to take the next step.
My entire work is designed to help illuminate the blindspots in our thinking and behavior, and highlight strengths so you can be more than you think you can be.
It’s never comfortable facing change, but when you are willing to get comfortable being uncomfortable in pursuit of the truth you will find some amazing opportunities enrich your life.
So... What illusions have you shattered in the last three years?