Back in early 2018 I was really struggling in my business.
We’d just returned from six years overseas and I was trying to establish my new career coaching business in my hometown of Perth, Australia.
Like many women, I’d left my corporate career when I gave birth to my first child because it felt like my former professional role as a Consulting Engineer wasn’t compatible with motherhood.
The company I worked for didn’t offer part time roles or job-shares for returning mothers and to be honest, I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the demands of a career as an Engineer alongside the demands of motherhood.
I’d been unhappy in my career for a long time and I knew there was something else I was ‘meant’ to be doing.
After lots of soul searching, I decided to branch out on my own and start my own business, while also raising two small children (my goodness those years were really tough!).
Like so many of us who start our own business, I thought “I’m a smart girl, I’ll figure this business thing out.”
And to my credit I did manage to figure lots of it out and I made a lot of progress.
But there was also so much that I couldn’t figure out.
There was so much conflicting advice and information everywhere.
Every single coach promised they had the magic solution or the ‘silver bullet’ to all my problems.
I burned so much money (and I’m talking tens of thousands of dollars…) on coaching programs, E-courses and private coaches.
But progress was very slow and very frustrating.
After a while I realised that I wasn’t making anywhere near the kind of money I wanted to be making and I had no idea how to position myself or package myself up to generate a consistent income.
There were so many times when I was close to giving up and going back and getting a J-O-B….
The more that time went on, my confidence started to drop and within a couple of years I was wallowing in major self-doubt and self-criticism, wondering if I’d ever make it on my own.
My husband started hinting that I should go back and get a job in engineering again.
And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, a Facebook advertisement showed up in my Facebook feed about a free workshop for women in business, focusing on social media and marketing strategy.
And it was run by Marnie LeFevre, founder of Fempire.
I hadn’t heard of Marnie LeFevre at the time, but her messaging spoke to me and something called me to sign up for the free workshop.
It was the best thing I ever did.
Marnie’s free workshop explained so much of the mystery around business building.
It helped me understand why I’d been struggling so much, and what I needed to do about it.
She gave practical tips and strategies to help me on my way.
But perhaps the most beautiful thing for me was that I finally felt supported – I’d finally found my tribe.
I was so tired of doing it on my own…
And the fact that Marnie had created a sisterhood of women in business who support each other to succeed felt like such a relief.
I went up to the back of the room at the end of her presentation and waited to speak to her (along with many, many other women!)
I’ll never forget my first interaction with Marnie.
I told her about my business and how I’d been struggling, but also how big my vision was and how badly I wanted to succeed.
She looked straight into my eyes and said:
“I can see you have what it takes but you lack self-confidence.
You just need someone to believe in you.
And I can be that person for you until you can believe in it yourself.”
WOW… my eyes filled with tears.
She was so right.
I’d lost all belief in myself. I had no self-confidence left.
And just knowing that she believed in me, without even knowing me, filled me with so much hope and optimism.
Needless to say, I signed up for Marnie’s 3-day Fempreneur course, and then signed on to be mentored by her for 12 months. I can’t tell you the relief I felt to finally get really solid, practical advice to grow my business in a way that actually worked.
Fast forward two years and now here I am, working with Marnie as a Fempire Coach and loving every minute.
My whole life changed with that one decision to attend her workshop.
I feel blessed that I now get to help so many women who are in that place of feeling stuck and confused, just as I was, and I get to help them move into a place of momentum, flow, and business success.
We all need a good mentor.
Do you have one?
Do you have someone who can believe in you until you can believe it yourself?
If not, please reach out.
Our passion and mission is to empower women like you who need someone to help and guide you along the path of building a thriving, profitable business.
If you haven’t already, reach out for a free Discovery Call to see if we’re the right people to provide you the support you need.
Maybe our programs will be the transformation that you need to get where you want to go.
If you’re feeling lonely, stuck, and confused, let’s chat!
In my early thirties, I was going through a really tough time. I was suffering from chronic fatigue and lingering illnesses while trying to hold down a high-pressure career as a Consulting Engineer. I would wake up in a state of dread about the day ahead; deadlines, meetings, and seemingly endless demands on my time and energy that I couldn’t keep up with. I couldn’t understand why my health was suffering so terribly or why I was so messed up.
I was fed up with feeling sick, exhausted, and highly strung out. I needed answers.
A close friend of mine recommended a therapist who had helped her navigate her way through her own huge challenges. I was willing to try anything and anyone. I just needed to find some relief from my pain – both physical and emotional. So I booked a session with the therapist.
The first session seemed to go well. She seemed to understand my predicament with empathy and had some strategies to help me process things and move forward.
She wasn’t afraid to challenge me when I needed to be challenged. And I appreciated that because as hard as it is, I’ve always been willing to own my role in my difficult experiences.
The sessions were going well until one day, in about our fourth session together, I was telling my story about a situation that was playing out in a close relationship in my life (with someone who also happened to be going to this therapist – probably my first big mistake right there). I was explaining my perception and how I was feeling about it, albeit quite tearfully when she interrupted me abruptly and said very forcefully:
“That’s not your spiritual truth!”
I was quite taken aback and didn’t quite understand what she meant. I didn’t know if it was my ‘spiritual truth’. But in that moment, the words I was speaking were my personal truth as I understood it. I was talking about how I was feeling and those feelings felt very real in that moment.
She continued to challenge me forcefully and I started to feel like a naughty school child. It seemed like she was angry with me and I spiraled into a cloud of shame and guilt. Why was I in trouble? What did I do wrong? Was I wrong to be feeling what I was feeling? Why was she so upset with me? How did I get myself into this situation?
Needless to say, I never went back.
I felt so hurt by that episode that I never booked an appointment with her again. The last thing I wanted was to feel more shame and pain about my situation. I left her office feeling much worse than I did when I entered. Why would I pay big dollars to feel even worse about myself? As if I wasn’t feeling bad enough to seek therapy in the first place?
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that Coaches and Therapists have a duty of care to challenge their clients when they’re stuck in victimhood and blame. I’ve since done a lot of work on myself – and also completed my own Life Coaching Certification – and I can (kind of) understand what she might have been getting at back then. But I wasn’t ready to see it at that time. I was stuck in so much emotional pain and trauma that it was impossible to see things logically.
I needed her to be gentle with me. I needed her to validate my feelings. Maybe after that, I would have been more open to seeing things from her perspective.
I’ve since had the privilege of working with some wonderful therapists who have (thankfully) been able to guide me gently back to emotional sanity and a state of inner peace and harmony. But it was a process, and it took time. Now I’m able to see that my incident with the ‘bad therapist’ was part of my necessary journey of cultivating deep empathy and kindness for all of my coaching clients who I now work with.
I don’t have a background in counseling or therapy, so I can’t speak to the professional requirements of therapists. I’m speaking below simply from my personal experience with different therapists, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (which of course is always open to interpretation and personal experience). Below are the qualities that I personally crave from a therapist. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below if you agree or disagree with me.
THE 5 QUALITIES I CRAVE IN A GOOD THERAPIST
1. Validate My Feelings.
So often, I don’t feel ‘seen’ or ‘heard’ by the people closest to me, and part of the reason I go to see a therapist is to have my feelings validated. After that, I can more easily move onto solutions and strategies, but I first need to know that my experience is real and “I’m not crazy”. A feeling of unworthiness is often at the core of my emotional pain, so I need you to validate my feelings as a first step in developing my own sense of self-worth and self-love. Then I’ll be able to move more effectively towards healing.
We heal through unconditional love and acceptance. And sometimes, our therapist is the first person we’ve received it from.
2. Practice Deep Empathy.
We can usually tell when a therapist doesn’t ‘get’ what we’re feeling or going through. And it’s hurtful when they brush things off or question “Do you think it’s as bad as you think?”. Yes, it is as bad as I think, or I wouldn’t be in therapy. It’s your role as a therapist to find empathy for my feelings and try to understand how I might be feeling what I’m feeling. And once know you ‘get it’, I’ll be much more willing to listen to your suggestions about how to move forward.
3. Challenge Me When I’m Ready – But Not Before.
I know that I need to be challenged and learn to take responsibility for what I’ve created in my life, where appropriate. Therapy wouldn’t work without a healthy dose of challenge. But nothing good comes from being told that I’m “playing the victim”, particularly when I’m still very much feeling victimised and I’m in need of empathy and validation. Don’t challenge me until you’ve worked through steps 1 and 2 above. Or I’ll go into shame and guilt and never come back.
4. Listen Without Taking Sides.
As a human being, of course I can have a tendency to go into blame and victim hood when I’m feeling wounded. And as a therapist, I know that you don’t do me any favours by agreeing with everything I say, or complaining with me about how terrible the other person is; that just keeps me stuck in my ‘story’ and is not helpful. Please allow me to speak my mind about my experiences. Listen, empathise, and maybe challenge me, but never take sides. In the session I described above, it felt like my therapist was taking sides with the other person in my relationship struggle. In order to heal and eventually move out of victim hood, I need you to hold a gentle but completely neutral and unbiased stance. Otherwise, the trust is broken and there can be no healing.
5. Be Gentle and Kind.
If I’ve come to see you, it’s because I’m suffering and I really want to do something about it. I don’t want to feel bad. I’m not willingly feeling terrible just to get attention. But I’ll be much more able to find my own healthy perspective when you treat me with respect, kindness, compassion, dignity, and appreciation.
What are your thoughts? Have you had any experiences with therapists, both good and bad, that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
If you’re in need of some emotional support to get through some difficult times, I encourage you to take a look at my related articles:
There’s an inextinguishable fire in your belly to make a positive difference. Maybe you don’t fully understand why, but you feel it, without a doubt. You know the world’s predicament and you wish you could do more. It pains you to see how far we’ve drifted collectively from the things that sustain and nourish us. You know there’s a better way. And you’re determined to help steer this big ship called humanity back onto the right course. You must keep playing your part. The world needs you.
Live by these 10 rules to leave your unique mark on the world.
1. You Change the World By Being the Happiest, Most Fully-Expressed Version of Yourself.
You know this to be true when you’re in the presence of someone who’s authentic, happy, and lit up from the inside. Their enthusiasm and positive energy ripple outward and you can’t help but be uplifted when you’re around them. They inspire you to be more and do more. Your job is to be you and be you fully. Authentic self-expression is your gateway to genuine happiness and when you’re happy, you change the world.
2. Purpose is Power.
Whether you believe you’re someone destined to impact millions, or whether you know intuitively that your purpose is to nurture and inspire the small circle within which you orbit, you need to find what your unique purpose is. There are so many ways you could help change the world for the better, but you can’t do it all. Find the particular area that you feel called to change and throw everything you’ve got at it. You’ll be more impactful when you’re laser-focused and clear about your unique mission. What’s the unique mark you want to leave on the world?
3. Be The Change You Wish to See.
If you want to create peace in the world, start by cultivating peace within yourself. Inner peace is the fertile soil from which true power emerges. Some of the most powerful changemakers in our history have also been the most peaceful. Make peace with the past. Get help if you need to. Make your personal growth your priority. Cultivate genuine self-awareness. People are far more willing to listen when you come from a place of compassion, understanding, and non-judgment. Try to see all sides of a situation and be willing to seek win-win solutions. Be the change you wish to see in the world.
4. Focus on What’s Going Right, Not What’s Going Wrong.
Nothing beneficial comes from complaining and whining about what’s not right. Expressions of anger, resentment, and self-righteousness cause people and organizations to get defensive and protective, and that’s not a place from which you can effect change. Put your attention instead on what’s working. Gratitude and appreciation are the express highways to optimism and empowerment. Appreciating the positives generates goodwill. It’s motivating and uplifting. And it’s the place from which true change can emerge.
5. Pay it Forward.
As a changemaker, it’s your job to be a catalyst for those around you. Display random acts of kindness. Just as a rude person can destroy your day, a friendly smile or gesture from a stranger can change someone’s day for the better. Count your blessings and pay them forward whenever you can.
6. Know and Protect Your Boundaries.
It’s not possible to ‘be the change’ if you’re feeling tired, depleted, or frustrated because your needs aren’t being met. It’s not selfish to set healthy boundaries and protect them fiercely – it’s essential. Put your own needs first. This is the highest act of self-love. And when you feel good, all those around you benefit too. If in doubt, refer back to Rule #1.
7. Play to Your Strengths.
To be effective and impactful, you must operate in your ‘Zone of Genius’. The world needs those special gifts that you have, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you. Get serious about discovering your unique strengths and find a way to contribute them in service to your unique purpose.
8. Call Yourself Out on Your Own BS.
Don’t let yourself get in your own way. All those little voices inside that tell you that you’re “not good enough”, or “smart enough”, or “good-looking enough” are BS. It’s your primitive ego talking whose job is to keep you safe and comfortable at all cost. But the magic happens outside your comfort zone. If you want to grow, blossom, and make an impact, you’re going to have to get used to feeling scared and uncomfortable. You must feel the fear and do it anyway.
9. Trust That Life Has Your Back.
Your path won’t always be easy. But trust that those experiences are created to teach you specific qualities that enable you to grow and to do your specific work in the world. Your greatest insight can come from your deepest suffering. The greatest human achievements have come after immense and enduring pain. Trust that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. You’re right where you’re meant to be, and you’re always being held and guided towards your highest good.
10. Find Your Tribe and Collaborate
Find the people and organizations who share your values and ideals and then connect and collaborate with them. Don’t try to operate in isolation. Recognize that when you collaborate, a nеw energy іѕ сrеаtеd that’s bigger than the sum of its parts. Reach out. Ask for help. Get yourself a mentor. Start discussions. Let camaraderie and teamwork be your goal. Keep your focus on the bigger picture and recognize that true power lies in doing it together.
No act is too small to make a difference.
And never underestimate the ripple effect of your actions.
Are you living your truth?
Palliative nurse Bronnie Ware famously wrote in her original blog ‘The Top Regrets of the Dying’ that the #1 regret of dying people is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“Everything is unfolding exactly as it should. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be.”
That’s what several well-intentioned people said to me (or words to that effect) when I was in the middle of my ‘dark night of the soul’ in my mid-thirties.
And those words enraged me.
Because it felt like nothing was going as it should. How was I ‘meant’ to be so miserable?
Why did my life feel so difficult and heavy?
This was not how I had ever imagined my life to be.
Very far from it.
How and when did everything go so wrong?
But, of course, I see now that it was unfolding exactly as it should. I can see that I indeed was exactly where I was meant to be, as impossible as that seemed at the time. Because if it hadn’t been for that period of my life, I wouldn’t have undergone the necessary metamorphosis that changed my life for the better.
My body had been trying to tell me for years, via chronic illness and fatigue, that I was on the wrong path. But I wouldn’t listen. The more I ignored the signs, the louder they became. It finally took a sledgehammer of painful personal experiences to wake me up to the truth of what needed to be done (you can read more about my rude awakening here).
Following my ‘moment of truth’, as I call it, I knew that I had to quit my career of almost 15 years as an engineer. It wasn’t easy walking into my manager’s office to tell him that I was leaving. No one could fathom why I was making this drastic decision. I’d invested enormous amounts of time, energy, emotion, sweat, and tears into my career from the age of 18. I’d finally built up an admirable reputation that established me as an authority in my field.
I wished I could be like my colleagues who seemed content with their professional life. I was never content; always searching for a new role, or a new project, that would allow me to finally feel the fulfilment and satisfaction I was seeking. But it got to the point where I knew in my heart that no amount of tweaking of my current professional career would get me whatever it was I was looking for.
Quitting was the only option if I was going to recover my health, my well-being, and my sanity.
Following my departure from the corporate world, I went through a long identity crisis as I tried to uncover who I really was, peeling back back the layers of my ego that had been heavily invested in being ‘an engineer’ and ‘an important professional woman’.
Who was I if I wasn’t those things?
I enrolled in every single course that crossed my path on ‘how to find your purpose’ and spent hours in therapy, trying to understand how I’d strayed so far from my true self and what to do about it. At times I wondered if I would ever figure it all out. I felt completely lost and confused. A turning point came during Jean Houston’s visionary program ‘Living Your Destiny’. We were asked to look at our lives through the lens of The Hero’s Journey. It was the first time I considered that perhaps there was meaning in my journey and my suffering. I came to the powerful realisation that:
When you take the time to stand back and look at the bigger picture of your life, you see a beautiful tapestry of purpose and meaning, woven together by all the different threads of your life experiences. It’s our job to pay attention to the different threads weaving through our lives and to try to understand the larger tapestry that is emerging.
And just as there can be no light without the darkness, each and every difficult situation and each emotional wound we experience on our path is necessary to bring out the contrast and texture of the final picture.
My decade-long set of struggles had been necessary preparation for the work I was ‘meant’ to do. Given that my biggest wound had been the struggle to feel happy and aligned in my professional path, I felt that it was my mission to become a ‘Purpose Coach’, helping people find their path and purpose so they can love their professional life and thrive.
It felt right in my heart.
And so I took the leap of faith to set up my coaching business.
And for the first couple of years, it was great. I developed a process to help people find their purpose, which I trialled on several different clients with great success.
The positive testimonials started to build and it felt great to be doing my thing and earning money on my own terms. I was ‘living my dream’.
Until everything started to feel really hard again.
I’ve wondered whether I’m really cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Maybe I should just go back and ‘get a real job’ again?
Maybe I wasn’t meant to do this after all?
I mean, I knew my new path wouldn’t be easy. But I never expected it to be this hard.
I was really struggling to make it work. I wasn’t “thriving and making a difference doing work I love” – the rally cry in all my personal branding and marketing. I wasn’t making anywhere near the amount of money that I was preaching to others was possible.
Talk about feeling like a fraud.
But now, once again, I find myself marvelling at the miracle of how everything unfolds exactly as it should. I had been intensely resisting the struggles in my business, feeling like “I should have it all figured out by now”. I was pushing, forcing, and getting increasingly angry that I didn’t have it all down to a fine art after three years in business. It got to the point where I got down on my knees and I prayed:
“OK Universe, if I’m meant to be doing this, I need some guidance.
Please help me.”
Soon after, the guidance came. In a moment of frustration, I had stepped away from my computer to go and lie outside in the sun. As I lay there on our outdoor lounge, a series of events flooded my memory in rapid succession.
I’m 15 years old and I’m in our Science classroom, peering into the fridge to look at the agar plates that we’ve inoculated with mold from an old, decaying orange. Penicillin mold has started to grow and I’m amazed that someone once figured out that this mold could save the lives of millions of people worldwide as an antibiotic. How cool that you can discover something that saves so many lives?
I’m 17 years old, standing on the banks of the Rio Parana in Paraguay, South America, as an exchange student all the way from Australia. Upstream, a large concrete factory is pumping its waste into the river while downstream, my friends and host-family are washing and bathing. I stare in horror as I watch the plumes of toxic waste flow right into the bay where everyone is bathing. I’m outraged and think to myself, “One day I’m going to do something about this.”
I’m 23 years old and I’m working as a Research Scientist with a big mining company on a biological mining process that has the potential to be way more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. But despite our best efforts, the economics don’t stack up. I feel frustrated and disheartened that our economic system doesn’t have a way to quantify the damage we cause to nature. Why can’t we see the long-term damage we’re doing for short-term profit?
I’m working part-time on a project in Indonesia with Engineers Without Borders to provide clean water to a large community in northeastern Bali. I feel such joy and satisfaction when after four long years we finally celebrate the completion of our successful project through close collaboration with the local people. This is what makes my heart sing.
I’m 34 and I’m a Consulting Water Engineer. I’m giving a presentation to the Executives of a large Water Utility about how we can better plan our water treatment systems to be more sustainable. One manager makes an off-hand comment about how I’m simply trying to ‘win work’ for my company, and they decline to consider the ideas in our Strategic Plan. Again I feel utterly disheartened. Why don’t they seem to care about doing the right thing?
I’m in my mid-thirties I walk away from my career as a Consulting Engineer because I’m tired of banging my head against a brick wall. I have an inextinguishable fire in my belly to make a positive difference in the world. But I feel utterly impotent and powerless. And I’m exhausted and unwell.
As these memories flooded my awareness, one after another, I realised that so much frustration in my life had been because I desperately wanted to make a positive difference. But it had gotten to the point where I realised that I had a lot of work to do on myself first, before I’d be able to create any kind of lasting change in the outside world. I was a mess and I needed to sort myself out. Suddenly the clarity popped.
I’m a changemaker.
And I’m here to serve heart-centered changemakers.
There it is. So simple. Yet, to me, so powerful.
This clarity has been the catalyst that’s allowed everything in my business to start flowing again, because I finally know who specifically I am here to serve. I’m here to help heart-centered changemakers find and walk their true path. How had I been missing this critical piece? This thread of my life had been so foundational in so many of my life experiences. Why hadn’t I claimed it until now? Once again, life had a larger game plan. There were things that I needed to experience and learn, through contrast and challenge, in order to prepare me for my work as an effective ‘Changemaker’. Without the struggle and challenge, I wouldn’t have reached the level of clarity and inner knowing that I now have.
‘Self-awareness’ is the ability to see ourselves clearly, to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world. It’s the conscious knowledge of one’s own personality, character, feelings, and individuality.
Did you know that genuine self-awareness is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your business, and the people in your life?
Here’s why. People with a high level of self-awareness have been shown to be:
More effective leaders with more profitable companies.
Those are pretty compelling reasons to become more self-aware don’t you think?
Self-awareness researcher and expert Dr Tasha Eurich calls self-awareness a ‘meta-skill’ because:
“Self-awareness is the underlying foundation to all of the skills that are required to succeed in the 21st century. It affects your emotional intelligence, influence, persuasion, sales. If you are not self-aware, if you do not understand who you are, how others see you, and the role you play in the world, you are going to come up short.”
According to Dr. Eurich’s extensive research on self-awareness of thousands of people over several years, there are two types of people:
Those who think they’re self-aware (95% of all people).
Those who actually are (10-15% of all people).
That’s a staggering statistic!
Around 85-90% of us are either lying to ourselves, in denial or just not seeing ourselves clearly.
This is why ‘360-degree reviews’ – surveys that allow your managers and colleagues to provide feedback on how you behave in the workplace – can be shocking for many people. Because often, it’s the first time they realize that others do not view them in the same way that they view themselves.
Can you picture someone you know who might be lacking self-awareness? Perhaps they’re easily triggered and prickly, or over-controlling of situations and people, or simply difficult to relate to or to work with. Perhaps they don’t seem very happy.
Now try to picture someone who seems self-aware. Perhaps they’re easy to get along with, accommodating, understanding, consistently positive and able to apologize when they’re at fault. Isn’t it so much easier to work with someone who’s self-aware? Deep self-awareness makes us more rational, more open, more intelligent, and more thoughtful.
According to Ray Van Gilst, the key qualities of someone who is self-aware in the workplace are:
They understand their emotional impact on others (they have high Emotional Intelligence)
They recognize their weaknesses and aren’t afraid to admit them or get support for them.
They lead with their strengths.
They know their limits.
They’re able to anticipate reactions and respond effectively.
But if it turns out you’re one of the 85-90% of people who aren’t self-aware, all is not lost. Self-awareness is a skill that can be learned. If you want to grow your own and/or your team’s self-awareness, you can. You just need to know how.
3 Ways You Can Become More Self-Aware
1. Take at Least 3 Different Personality Tests
Personality tests work by asking you questions about yourself, and then they use your answers to tell you about yourself. Realizing where you fit into the broad spectrum of human behavior can be very enlightening. Knowing yourself intimately gives you more authentic power.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t excavate your subconscious thoughts, beliefs, and feelings on your own. And because so much is hidden from your conscious awareness, you end up inventing answers that feel true, but are often very wrong. Personality tests act like a mirror, reflecting your subconscious world back to you, and bringing it into your conscious awareness so that you can work with it.
There are many personality tests available online, many of them with a free version that allows you to do your basic typing. In my experience, the most helpful tests are The Enneagram, The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, and the DISC Model of Human Behavior. You can learn all about these tests and find the links to the best free versions online in my free E-Book The Happiness Key.
This is critical. You can’t become more self-aware by yourself. You need feedback from other people to help you see the things you can’t see about yourself; your ‘blind spots’. They’re called blind spots for a reason – you can’t see them.
Requesting feedback can be a big, scary step. You might not want to hear how you’re perceived by others, in both positive and negative ways. But this is why 360-degree reviews are so powerful in the workplace; they make people aware of their patterns so they can adapt them and become more effective, relatable, and competent.
If you’re ready to be brave and take the step of requesting feedback, Dr. Eurich recommends these criteria:
Ask the right people. Don’t ask your ‘unloving critics’, or people who are ‘loving but uncritical’ (those for whom you can do nothing wrong.) You need to find ‘loving critics’; the people who have your best interests at heart and are not afraid of telling you the truth you need to hear.
Ask specifically what kind of feedback you want. Which kind of behaviors do you want to know more about and in which area? Give them something tangible to answer rather than a vague question like “What am I like?”
Use the right process and give them context. For example, you could say “I received some 360-degree feedback from my colleagues and I really want to understand it better. Could you give me some honest feedback on the following areas?”
3. Change the word “Why?” to “What”
After researching thousands of people and finding the 10-15% of people who actually are self-aware, Dr. Tasha Eurich noticed a very striking pattern. People who were not self-aware were tended to always ask the question “Why?”. For example, “Why me?” or “Why does she behave that way towards me?” or “Why does that person always behave like that?” Their attention is on the other person and their perceived faults.
Instead, the people who were self-aware looked at themselves and asked how they could adapt in order to improve a situation. For example, “They are really adamant that their way is the only way. I wonder what I can do to help them see other options.”
Armed with these three strategies, you’ll have a much better chance at becoming more self-aware. What is it costing you to remain in the 85-90% of people who are not actually self-aware? Greater levels of fulfillment? More happiness and success? I urge you to try these three steps. They won’t be easy, but they will help you beyond measure. Give yourself the gift of greater self-awareness and watch your life and business soar.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Kate De Jong, Ph.D Fempire Coach for Thriving Female Entrepreneurs email@example.com www.katiedejong.com
Are you ready to develop your level of self-awareness even further and join the 10-15% of self-aware people who are loving life to the max?
Do you often find yourself procrastinating, instead of getting important things done?
If so, you’re not alone. In a survey I sent out recently to find out more about my clients’ challenges and struggles, ‘procrastination’ came in as one of the top responses when I asked the question “What do you feel is the biggest obstacle holding you back from making breakthroughs in the areas you desire?”
‘Fear’ was the number one response (which will be the subject of a follow-up article that I’m currently procrastinating over), followed closely by ‘Procrastination’.
I felt compelled to write about procrastination because I know it’s a big challenge for many business owners. And I struggle with it too.
There are certain important things I know I ‘should’ be doing in order to grow my business or to keep on top of things at home, and I often find it really hard to just get on and do them. And it got me wondering – Why? And what can I do about it? Because it frustrates me when I catch myself doing it and I’m aware that it’s a form of self-sabotage.
I was heartened to find out that I’m only a ‘mild procrastinator’ when I did the Mind Tools ‘Are You A Procrastinator?’ test. But I was told “You need to understand better why you procrastinate – there are several reasons for it, and more than one may apply to you. And you need to learn the steps you can take to stop doing it.”
Exactly. So what exactly are those reasons and what can I do about them?
Firstly, it was nice to know that procrastination is not the same as laziness.
“Procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. In contrast, laziness suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act. Procrastination usually involves ignoring an unpleasant, but likely more important task, in favor of one that is more enjoyable or easier.”
I find that a great description. I know I’m not lazy because I’m very willing to act. But I definitely have been known to ignore the unpleasant, but more important tasks, in favour of ones that are more enjoyable or easier.
To overcome this pattern of behaviour, Mind Tools suggests that the first thing we need to do is:
Recognise That You’re Procrastinating.
As with everything in life, the first step in being able to ‘fix’ something is to notice that you’re actually doing it. Find out where you are on the procrastination scale – Are you a true procrastinator, a mild procrastinator, or not a procrastinator at all (congratulations – lucky you!)?
And once you know where you fit on the scale, you can start to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing and how to change it. There are many reasons for why you might procrastinate. Here’s a list of the most common ones.
6 Reasons You’re Procrastinating and What You Can Do About Them
1. You’re Not Organised Enough.
As a business owner, it’s up to you to enforce structure in your day. It was different back in my old corporate career when there were certain non-negotiable obligations like routine meetings, deadlines, or admin tasks that had to be done. But when you work for yourself, that’s much more fluid. If you don’t feel like doing something, you don’t have to do it.
But the guilt and shame that you feel as a consequence of not doing what you know you have to do can be detrimental and (as you know) can lead to a downward spiral of negativity and inertia, which can be very hard to pull yourself out of.
This is why it’s so essential to get organised. You need to create a schedule that forces you to do certain things on certain days, and then make them non-negotiable. For example, commit to getting your email newsletters out every Friday at 2 PM. Or schedule three hours every Tuesday morning to prepare your social media posts for the next 2 weeks. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me get on top of things in my own business. Suddenly I don’t have time to procrastinate anymore!
My favourite tool for getting organised in my business is Trello. It’s been a game-changer for me and my business. I highly recommend using Trello to create structure and discipline in your business.
Consistency, routine, and effective prioritising of your tasks are essential in overcoming procrastination.
Accountability can help you get things done too. Ask someone to check up on you and regularly remind you of what you promised you would do. Get coaching, or join a Mastermind group. Accountability is why coaching relationships are so effective. Coaches help you understand what’s important for you and they hold you accountable to the things you say you’re going to do. And we all need that! As a business coach myself, I still need my own coach to help me stay accountable and on-track.
2. Poor Decision-Making and Lack of Clear Priorities.
Have you ever had those days when there’s so much to do that you just get started on something, and then you end up drifting through the day being super ‘busy’, but at the end of the day you ask yourself “What did I actually do today?”
That’s a day without clear and focused priorities (and is slightly different from not being organised). If you can’t decide what to do, you just end up jumping on the first thing that feels good and suddenly you’ve spent six hours doing things that really are not a high priority and you know it.
The best question I’ve learned to ask at the start of each day is Gary Keller’s famous question that he describes in his #1 bestselling book The One Thing which is this:
What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
I recently put together a video explaining The One Thing and how you can apply it (you can watch the video here). Asking that question has been a true game-changer for me and when I get stuck, this is the question I turn to. I highly recommend trying it out.
3. It’s Boring.
This is an obvious one and possibly the most common. I’m constantly putting certain tasks off because, frankly, they’re boring. Why pay the outstanding invoices or get on top of your admin when you could do the fun website changes you’ve been wanting to do or make pretty social media images?
The best technique that’s helped me make myself do those boring tasks that need doing is this:
Focus on how good it’s going to feel when you’ve finally done those boring tasks and you can tick them off your to-do list. Keep tuning into the feeling of relief and satisfaction you will feel and use it to get you through the task.
Another thing you can do is promise yourself a reward. If you complete a boring but necessary task on time, reward yourself with a treat; maybe a slice of cake and coffee from your favourite coffee shop. Or if it’s a really big, important task, reward yourself with a massage or anything else that feels like an absolute treat – because you deserve it.
4. You’re Worried About Failing.
This type of procrastination is simply ‘fear’ disguised as procrastination. And the only way to overcome this one is to schedule the time to do the scary thing that needs to be done and push through the fear. As the famous saying goes “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”
All the things I’ve been really scared of doing (live videos, leading group calls etc) only became less scary when I finally plucked up enough courage to just do them. And through doing them they became much less scary and even enjoyable.
The more you do something you fear, the more comfortable and enjoyable it becomes.
There’s a certain adrenaline boost that you get when you overcome your fears that can become addictive with time, to the point where you actually really start getting hooked on doing the thing you once feared.
5. You’re Being a Perfectionist.
Perfectionists are often the best procrastinators. You’re so dedicated to getting something perfectly ‘right’ before you put it out there that you become paralysed with inaction. This was once a big trap of mine, and the only thing that helped me work through this was repeatedly saying the mantra:
Imperfect Action Beats Perfect Inaction.
If this sounds like you, print out this statement in big letters (make it pretty if you have to) and hang it above your desk somewhere where you can see it all the time. And make the commitment to yourself to choose imperfect action above perfect inaction at all times. Watch how this simple mantra changes your life!
6. You’re Worried About Succeeding.
You might even be worried about doing something really well because it means that you’ll suddenly be swamped with requests from other people and you’ll get overwhelmed.
Maybe you don’t want to be known as someone who gets things done because you’ll end up being their go-to person. In that case, you may just need to be up-front and set some clear boundaries with people. Let them know what you’re willing to do but let them know you have limited time because you have your own tasks to get on with. This may require having some uncomfortable conversations but the effects will be liberating.
As Marianne Williamson has said often:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Maybe you’re scared of how your life will change if you actually become successful, and so you keep yourself small so that you don’t have to get uncomfortable? If so, recognise that you’re doing that, and then try to shift your focus to all the positive things that will result from succeeding, for you and others.
I hope this list has given you some insight and helpful strategies to overcome your procrastination patterns. The top one for me remains staying organised in order to overcome my procrastination demons and something I’m working to improve each and every day.
And be sure not to beat up on yourself. Don’t let yourself get dragged into the spiral of shame and guilt that procrastination can draw you into. Be gentle with yourself and congratulate yourself for always doing your best and for actively seeking ways to improve. That in itself is worthy of a little celebrating.
Are you starting or growing your own business? Download your FREE copy of my FEMPRENEUR SUCCESS HANDBOOK to fast-track your business success! This value-packed guide contains everything I wish I knew back when I was starting my own business in 2011. Click here to download it now.
Building a business is hard work. It takes grit, perseverance, determination, and persistence. It’s most definitely not for the faint-hearted.
And building your own business confronts you with all of your insecurities, fears, and doubts about yourself, raising questions like:
Who am I to do this work?
Why would anyone choose to work with me when my competitors are younger, smarter, and further along?
How will I ever make enough money?
What have I got to offer?
That little inner voice is debilitating and completely takes the wind out of your sails.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
So many female entrepreneurs struggle with these fears, doubts and insecurities. We see it all the time with our clients. And I’ve been through it myself so many times too (trust me, I know what you’re going through!).
Fear, doubt and insecurity are a natural part of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Those little voices come from that primitive part of your brain that’s designed to keep you ‘safe’. They don’t want you to step outside of the hut because you might get eaten by a mammoth. When you’re building your business you have to put yourself out there in a big way and open yourself up to judgement, criticism, and unsolicited feedback.
It’s scary and very uncomfortable!
Not to mention all the doubts you have about our own capabilities and competence.
It can be hard to pull yourself out of those situations where you spiral into self-doubt and fear. And there are days when you just want to give up on the dream. I know, I have them too, those days where I ask myself:
Wouldn’t it be easier to just go back and get a job?
I’ve learned over the years that there’s unfortunately no shortcut to establishing a thriving, profitable business.
Some days it feels like you’re putting your work out into a vacuum. Those are the days when it’s hard to get motivated. It’s hard being in business for yourself, being the sole person responsible for generating revenue, particularly in the early days when your revenue is dependent on your time and input. I’ve read all the promises of the 4-hour work week and ‘passive income’ and while they sound great, those are things that take time to build, and that advice is unhelpful when you’re in startup mode (which lasts for 1-3 years!). If you’re not familiar with the 6 stages of business growth, check out my article here.
If you ever get into one of those downward spirals of despair and negativity, here are some tips on how to pull yourself back up and out of it. These are some of the things that help me on a regular basis when I get into a funk.
1. Remember why you started your business.
When you’re in this state of mind, it’s important to reconnect with your personal and business ‘why’.
What is it that made you start your business in the first place?
What’s the important contribution that you want to make through your work?
Who’s going to miss out on receiving the benefits of your work if you decide to succumb to fear and insecurity and not show up?
If you’re not clear on your business ‘why’ yet, check out Simon Sinek’s video How Great Leaders Inspire Action and answer this sentence for yourself: “Because I believe….”
2. Get out a piece of paper and write down all the things that make you awesome.
I’m serious, you need to do this exercise if you’re feeling fearful and doubtful. Get out a pen and paper and write down your answers to these questions:
What have you achieved, overcome, and created in this lifetime?
What are your unique strengths and talents?
What qualifications have you achieved, or awards have you won, or things have you accomplished over your life and career?
What do your best friends say about you? What would they say if you were gone?
Remember and reconnect to all the positive things about yourself. So often we get focused on what’s ‘not there’ and forget to remember everything that ‘is already there’.
Remind yourself of just how awesome you are and believe it in your bones! Because it’s true.
3. Re-read some of the positive feedback from your clients and appreciate the areas where you have traction in your business.
Go back and read or simply remember some of the positive things people have said about your work and the impact you’ve made on them. Find a way to remember that your work matters and that people need and appreciate what you have to offer.
4. Focus on what you love about working for yourself.
Take some time to remember the reasons you decided to work for yourself. Write them down. For example, I remember how much I love the complete freedom and flexibility of my schedule and my pure freedom of creative self-expression. I love the ability I have to work from home, to be there for my kids, and to focus my time on what I want, when I want.
What is it that you love about working for yourself?
5. Force yourself to step away from the desk and take a break.
Any action you take while in a negative frame of mind is not going to be productive or inspired. It’s important to get yourself back into a good frame of mind before attempting to do anything at all. Do whatever it takes to re-centre and re-align yourself.
Perhaps you could get outside into the garden, or go for a walk, or do something uplifting, comforting and nourishing for yourself.
7. Don’t give up. You just may be on the verge of making a breakthrough!
No matter how bad your day is feeling, don’t give up. You might be just about to make a touchdown. Keep your thoughts and energy focused on the vision you hold and how good it feels to be living your dream, on your own terms. If you need help staying tuned in to positive energy and the flow of abundance, take a look at my article How to Create More of What You Want Using the Law of Attraction – Part 1.
And if all else fails, take a day off, go and do something you love and tomorrow is another day. But most importantly, hang in there. The world needs your precious gifts!
Are you doing all the right things when it comes to growing your business?
Get your FREE copy of THE FEMPRENEUR SUCCESS HANDBOOK and discover all the tactics and strategies that have helped my clients achieve sustainable business success within the shortest amount of time!
I recommend reading that one first so that the information I present here is in context.
In the video below I briefly summarise the major scientific breakthroughs that have confirmed a very important discovery – The existence of our HUMAN ENERGY FIELD and how we can impact our own human energy field through our thoughts and focus of attention.
The key points to understand so far are:
You are more than just your physical body. You’re surrounded by an energy field (commonly called your ‘Aura’) that emanates within you, around you, and out into the world around you. Your energy field is interconnected with the invisible web of energy that connects all of life. Einstein called it ‘The Field’, the Chinese call it ‘Chi’ and the Indians ‘Prana’. Gregg Braden calls it ‘The Divine Matrix’.
You can impact your energy field through your thoughts and beliefs. The quality of your energy field (and hence your health and your life experiences) can be directly improved through improving your thoughts, your beliefs and your focus of attention.
The Law of Attraction is the governing law in our Universe. It’s sometimes also referred to as the Law of Mirroring, because it operates on the principle that what you feel and believe internally, must be reflected (mirrored) in your external reality.
Manifestation = Clear Desire + Belief + Trust + Inspired Action. ‘Inspired action’ is action that feels joyful, exciting, and uplifting; you must feel inspired and excited by your desired end goal.
At the end of the teachings in Part 1, I recommended a number of tasks, including setting an ‘Abundance Goal’ in an area of life where you want to feel more abundance or joy. I explained that the goal should be something that gets you excited when you think about it and feels like a challenging but reasonable stretch from where you are now. The goal needs to make you feel good! And we discussed how the goal should be specific and clear, to activate the Law of Attraction more effectively.
How to Activate Your Abundance Goal Through Gratitude
Gratitude is the rocket fuel that turbo-charges the Law of Attraction!
Yesterday we talked about how our emotions have different ‘frequencies’, and the fact that positive emotions like love, joy, optimism, and excitement vibrate at a higher frequency than negative emotions. And since ‘like attracts like’ in the Law of Attraction, this means that positive emotions and feelings will attract more positive experiences into your life.
And there is nothing more powerful than GRATITUDE for helping you tap into positive emotions!
Have you noticed how good it feels when you take a moment to quietly reflect on the things in your life that make you feel really grateful? Just picturing something or someone you love and feeling gratitude for them instantly lifts your energy. Just as the opposite is also true – when you focus your thoughts and energy on someone you don’t like or who you feel has wronged you, you can feel your energy drop.
The whole process of manifesting what you want is made possible when you’re able to hold what they call ‘a vibrational match’ to that which you desire. When you really desire something and you hold it consistently as your focus of attention, you begin naturally attracting it towards you. And the more effectively you’re able to keep your thoughts and attention focused on the excitement of your desired goal, the more quickly the manifesting process is going to happen.
Gratitude gives you an instant boost of positive feelings and emotions, which in turn attract the positive experiences you’re seeking.
It’s easy to get distracted by the things that aren’t working so well in life. But even amidst your troubles and worries, try to keep your attention focused on the things that ARE working well and the things you can be grateful for.
Because what you focus on grows.
If you keep your attention focused on your frustrations and challenges, you will continue to experience and grow them. And conversely, if you keep your attention focused on the positive things in your life, you will continue to expand and grow those positive things.
If you want to attract more of something into your life, you need to start focusing your attention on where that quality is already appearing in your life.
We’re often so focused on the LACK of something, that we fail to see where we’re already experiencing what we desire in smaller, more subtle ways.
For example, say you want to attract a partner into your life. What are the qualities that a partner would bring to your life? Perhaps a sense of connection, mutual love, respect, and adoration for each other. Where in your life are already feeling those qualities in your life, right now? Perhaps you have a wonderful relationship with your children, or another member of your family. Keep your attention focused on all those areas where you already feel connection, mutual love, respect, and adoration, and practice feeling extreme gratitude for those things, knowing that the more you focus on gratitude, the more you’re growiing those qualities in your life experience through your focus of attention.
One of my favourite Abundance mentors, Jeanna Gabellini, tells a story of how one of her students wanted to attract more money into her life. She was completely broke without a cent to her name. When Jeanna asked her to focus on where she was already experiencing wealth in her life, she found it impossible. All she could see was the lack of it. But she made the commitment to keep her attention focused on wealth and one morning she found a 10 cent piece on the ground outside her home. She picked it up and felt extreme gratitude that this sign of wealth was appearing. As she kept her attention focused on wealth and her desire for financial freedom, small signs of money started appearing, such as an unexpected refund from a store she had shopped at, and eventually she was offered a job she had previously been turned down for, and her abundance started flowing the more she chose to focus on financial flow.
You need to make a conscious choice to keep your attention focused on the evidence that your desired goal is already on its way.
In this series of articles I’m showing you the steps you need to take in order to create more abundance in your life. The tasks below are tasks that you’ll need to continue doing each day. It should become a part of your daily life and a standard part of your morning routine if you are going to claim the life you want. It only takes 5-10 minutes a day but is absolutely critical to creating an abundant life! I do this myself each day, and if for some reason I forget, I can usually tell. Without the clear alignment each morning, my days become much less effective and flowing and I veer off-track from my joy and goals.
TASK 1 – Start an Abundance Notebook and commit to spending 5 minutes each day to write in it.
Get yourself a notebook that looks and feels good – i.e. you enjoy writing in it.By dedicating a notebook and 5 minutes a day to these exercises below you are claiming your right to more abundance and you are expecting that it’s already on its way.
TASK 2 – Practice extreme gratitude
Every morning, write the first heading “Today I am grateful for…”. Write down a minimum of 10 things that you’re currently grateful for in your life. Gratitude immediately dials your energy into a higher frequency which is necessary for activating the Law of Attraction. Your internal positive emotions will be reflected in your outer reality.
TASK 3 – Write down your Abundance Goal each day
Under your list of things you’re grateful for, write down your desired ABUNDANCE GOAL. For example, “I have found my perfect life partner who loves and adores me. We feel deep connection, mutual love, respect, and adoration.”
TASK 4 – Gather evidence that your desired goal is already appearing in your life
Under your Abundance Goal, write down the title: ABUNDANCE EVIDENCE LOG. Then write down every single way in which you are ALREADY experiencing the qualities you desire in your Abundance Goal. For example, if you’re wanting to attract a life partner because you want to experience deep connection, mutual love, respect, and adoration, then start recognising and acknowledging where you are ALREADY experiencing those feelings somewhere in your life, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. For example, you may be feeling love and connection with your child, or with a good friend. Focus your attention on those feelings and give appreciation for them.
What you focus on grows and expands.
Jeanna Gabellini often says that in the beginning, you may have to “Fake it ’til you make it”. What’s important is that you consciously CHOOSE to put your focus of attention of where things are already working in your life. Because this attracts GROWTH and EXPANSION in those areas and more.
TASK 5 – Think of 3 inspired actions you can take today towards your Abundance Goal.
It’s essential that you accompany your inner alignment and positive emotion with consistent, inspired action! You must take action each and every day towards your goal for the whole process to work. And the actions must feel ‘inspired’ – i.e. joyful, uplifting, exciting and meaningful. If it feels like a burden and a struggle, then it’s not ‘inspired’ action. The criteria for inspired action is that it FEELS GOOD!
That’s it for your daily ritual. It should only take 5-10 minutes a day and you’ll soon realise that it’s the BEST investment of your time you can possibly make! Try to be consistent and don’t skip a day!
TASK 6 – Get your positive juices flowing by writing short answers to the following.
I love that …
I am excited for …
I am open to receiving …
Today is the day I …
Consistency and commitment are key to effectively harnessing the Law of Attraction.
Commit to doing this journalling exercise every morning for a month and observe the shifts that start happening in your life. This is really a ‘personal energy alignment’ that you’re doing each morning – aligning your energy with the positive feelings and frequencies that you want to attract, and therefore making yourself a ‘vibrational match’ to the things you want to manifest. And as we’ve learned, the Law of Attraction can only bring you things that are an energetic match to your own energy field. So when you’re continuously focused on the positives in your life, and the great feelings of having those things you desire (even when they haven’t manifested yet), you’re allowing your desires to come to you in the easiest, most effortless way.
Personal energy alignment + Consistent, inspired action = Manifestation
This is not to say that you’re never allowed to feel negative or down. Of course you can, and you will. And you must – it’s part of the natural cycles of life. It’s impossible to feel ‘up’ all the time. And your feelings are there to be felt, so you need to turn towards your feelings and honour them. Give them the recognition and validation they’re seeking (just as mothers do for their young children). You have to feel it to heal it.
But when you’ve spent sufficient time honoring your feelings, return your attention to the questions outlined above to get your energy back on track and re-align yourself. Take as long as you need, but don’t allow yourself to stay ‘down’ for too long.
If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below or send me a private email message. I’m always excited to connect with you and to help you where I can!
Do you wish you could live your truth more fully and experience greater levels of freedom, fulfilment, love and happiness? Get your FREE copy of my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING YOUR TRUTH now and discover the 5 pillars of authentic living – your gateway to happiness! Click here to download it now.
Science is now helping us emerge from the cultural trance that haves us believe we are just our physical bodies and there is nothing beyond the physical senses. Scientific breakthroughs are confirming what ancient spiritual teachers have been saying for thousands of years:
There is more to you than meets the eye.
I feel compelled to write this article because the insight I’ve learned from discoveries in Quantum Physics that have been made in recent decades is so profound, that I believe everyone should know about it. Knowing about these discoveries has the ability to radically transform your life and help you tap into far greater levels of peace, happiness, abundance, and success.
I’m officially a Scientist by background and I was fascinated with science from a young age. I can still remember my Year 10 Science Project when we had to grow Penicillin by taking a swipe of mold from an old orange and grow it in Petri dishes containing prune-flavored agar which we made up. I thought it was amazing that this naturally-growing mold had the ability to save millions of people’s lives worldwide as an antibiotic.
I later chose to study Biotechnology at University which meant taking a deep dive into cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, fermentation biology, chemistry, thermodynamics, process engineering and more. After completing my Ph.D. in 2002, I worked as a consulting process engineer in the water industry for almost ten years.
During the final years of my Ph.D. research, my health started declining.
What started out as continuous physical and mental exhaustion, eventually turned into a mystery illness that doctors could only diagnosis as ‘chronic fatigue’. My immune system became so depressed that I was constantly battling chronic illnesses, digestion problems, and sleep distortions. Medical doctors weren’t able to help me and told me repeatedly that it was “all in my head”. But I knew there was something very wrong.
A person I met one day in the waiting room of a doctor’s clinic handed me a copy of Louise Hay’s famous book You Can Heal Your Life. It was a big turning point for me and the first time that I’d considered that my emotions and outlook on life could be causing the ill health I was experiencing.
Up until that point, I had believed that poor health was just something that ‘happened’ to us.
I had never stopped to consider that perhaps I needed to pay attention to my emotions or that my physical symptoms were my body’s way of bringing my attention to imbalances in my life. That all seemed far too ‘woo-woo’, and being a Scientist, that was not something I felt comfortable with. I was a proud believer that Science could explain everything and that if something couldn’t be measured, then it didn’t exist. I was forced to challenge those beliefs pretty quickly.
I continued to suffer terribly, waking each morning in a fog of exhaustion and chronic illness, dreading the day ahead. Around that time someone suggested I try Reiki, the ancient Japanese system for stress reduction and relaxation that also, coincidentally, promotes healing. It’s administered by “laying on hands”, allowing an unseen life force energy to flow through to the patient, facilitating healing and well-being. This seemed like a huge stretch to my fact-based, logical mind and I really struggled to get my head around it, let alone believe that it could work. But I was so desperate to feel better that I was willing to try.
But lo and behold, over time I started noticing a marked improvement in my stress levels, sense of well-being and overall health.
I struggled to understand how this seemingly passive technique of laying on hands and relaxation could actually be helping me heal, but it was. All I knew was that I definitely shouldn’t discuss any of this with my left-brained, rational-minded engineering colleagues at work!
I was so fascinated by what I was beginning to discover about emotions, health, and healing in my early twenties that I started reading any book I could find on ‘alternative’ healing practices. My mind was opening and I was astonished at how much of this ‘woo-woo’ world had actually been confirmed by science. Eventually, I found the Tara Centre in my hometown of Perth, Australia, who used a number of non-conventional techniques to measure and treat all the imbalances in my body. I also did regular meditation, journaling and emotional therapy (which I describe in my related articles The Healing Code: How to reclaim your health & well-being in three powerful steps and Soul-Care: 10 ways to soothe your soul in times of overwhelm). Within a period of around six months to a year, I slowly returned to optimal health and energy levels.
After my five-year struggle with chronic fatigue, it was such an enormous relief to finally feel healthy again. And I was now a firm believer in the power of ‘alternative’ healing practices and the power of the mind to heal ourselves.
And so I’ve continued to stand with one foot in the world of facts, logic and science, and the other foot in the world of spirituality and ‘woo-woo’ – bridging the gap between science and spirituality. But it’s not an easy bridge to uphold. So many people are still firmly entrenched in the cultural trance that says “You are just your physical body and therefore you can only be treated and healed through physical means. Poor health is just something that happens to the unlucky ones among us.” There is often a very large gap between those working in science and conventional medicine, versus those working in alternative therapies. People on different sides of the camp hold remarkably different worldviews and beliefs.
But this bridge between science and woo-woo is gradually closing through major scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, particularly in the field of Quantum Physics, which are gradually confirming what spiritual leaders have been teaching for thousands of years.
The two most mind-blowing discoveries in Quantum Physics from my perspective are:
1. Your thoughts influence the environment around you and shape your future.
As I understand it, matter can exist either as a wave or a particle. Things in the past have become particles, but future possibilities exist as waves or particles and have the potential to be influenced by our thoughts. Our thoughts have an energy field that impacts the potential form of matter. During experiments in Quantum Physics, it has been found consistently that the behaviour of waves and particles is influenced by the observers in the experiment. This has led Quantum Physicists to claim boldly that we have the ability to influence our reality through our thoughts and beliefs. Every thought and belief impacts the field around you. You can change your reality and all future possibilities through changing your thoughts.
2. There is one intelligent consciousness that permeates and connects the whole Universe.
Known by many names, like the quantum mind, Unified Field Theory, The All, God, universal consciousness, ‘Ki’ in Japanese, ‘Chi’ in Chinese, ‘Prana’ in India … whatever you want to call it, it is no longer just a philosophical, unproven theory on the fringe of metaphysics. It is now proven that there is one intelligent consciousness that permeates the whole Universe this all-powerful, ever-present, omniscient force also exists within each of us, including you.
I refer to it as the Universal Energy Field. We have the power to access this field through meditation, quiet time and reflection, prayer and connection to nature. Accessing the field can have these profound impacts (from the EOC Institute):
• Super powerful ability to self-heal
• Feeling more connected to all living things
• Better memory & enhanced learning abilities
• Access to life solutions, and a well-tuned “life navigation system”
• Profound levels of creativity
• Easily understand and root out all unnatural fear
• Super lucid clarity of thought
• More success in all life endeavors
• And many more universal mind benefits.
But the ability to access this Universal Field of Energy through meditation, solitude, and prayer requires the suspension of all beliefs that say this isn’t possible, or that this whole concept is a bunch of ‘woo-woo’. I do believe that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes widely accepted that this is in fact how our Universe operates.
More and more doctors and scientists are coming forward with stories of their own intense spiritual experiences that have completely altered the way they view the world, and they are now leading the way in teaching and revolutionizing the way we think about our bodies, mind, and spirit.
Here are just a few of the world-leading doctors and scientists who have broken the mold of our cultural trance and are now leading the way, showing us how to harness spiritual laws and practices to enhance our lives:
Dr. Lissa Rankin, MD.
Lissa was a senior Obstetrician/Gynaecologist delivering up to twenty babies a day, working crazy, long hours, dealing with life and death situations and incredible stress all day long. During her ‘dark night of the soul’, she broke down completely and was forced to quit in order to save her own health. She went through some intense spiritual awakenings in the following months that completely changed her worldview. She is now a New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling. She’s also a physician, speaker, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and mystic. Passionate about what makes people optimally healthy and what predisposes them to illness, she says she “is on a mission to merge science and spirituality in a way that not only facilitates the health of the individual, but also uplifts the health of the collective.” Bridging between seemingly irreconcilable worlds, Lissa is a connector, collaborator, curator, and amplifier, broadcasting not only her unique visionary ideas, but also those of cutting-edge visionaries she discerns and trusts, especially in the field of her latest research into “Sacred Medicine.”
Dr Lissa Rankin’s whole health cairn concept
The key message I’ve learned from Lissa
Lissa developed the ‘Whole Health Cairn’ concept. She says “Research all over the world has shown that it’s not only that it’s critical, but the health of your relationships, your professional life, your creative life, your spiritual life, your sex life, your environment, your finances – in essence, the health of your mind – impacts your health far more than your diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, sleep habits, or how many vitamins you take”. She has a brilliant TEDx talk HERE. Find out more about Lissa’s work HERE.
Dr. Bruce Lipton (Ph.D)
Bruce is a recognized leader in bridging science and spirituality. Originally a stem cell biologist, he’s also the bestselling author of The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles and recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award. He’s been a guest speaker on hundreds of TV and radio shows, and keynote presenter for countless conferences. He’s known for his scientific work proving the impact of a person’s beliefs on their genes, DNA and hence health. He asks “What would your life be like if you learned that you are more powerful than you have ever been taught?”
The key message I’ve learned from Bruce
Your thoughts and beliefs have a very real and measurable effect on your health. Change your thoughts and beliefs, and your body will change to match them. Find out more about Bruce’s work here.
Dr. Brian Weiss, MD.
As a traditional psychotherapist, Brian was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from “the space between lives,” which contained remarkable revelations about Brian’s own family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career, helping others understand how to tap into the ‘space between realities’ in order to find healing, peace and happiness. He’s the author of the amazing book Miracles Happen: The Transformational Healing Power of Past Life Memories and many more.
The key message I learned from Brian’s work
There is overwhelming scientific evidence to show that we live multiple lives and it is possible to access information about past lives through past-life regression therapy in a safe environment with a trained psychotherapist. Past-life therapy has the ability to create massive breakthroughs in healing, inner peace, and happiness. Find out more about Brian’s work here.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, MD.
A famous neuroscientist, author, and inspirational public speaker, Jill is famous for her international bestseller My Stroke of Insight. She began to study severe mental illnesses because she wanted to understand what makes the brain function the way it does, following her brother’s ongoing struggles with mental illness. She was working in a lab in Boston in 1996, mapping out the brain to figure out which cells communicate with which cells, when she suffered a large and severe stroke when a blood vessel erupted on the left side of her brain. She had been able to witness her own brain begin to shut down within a span of four hours, and soon after she could not speak, read, walk, write or remember anything from her life. It took eight years to recover fully. She gave the first TED talk that ever went viral on the Internet, after which her book became a NY Times bestseller and was published in 30 languages.
The key message I learned from Jill
Our brain has two hemispheres that control different functions in our body. The left hemisphere controls our logical and rational thought and ability to function in the world. The right hemisphere is our creative, intuitive, thinking-in-pictures hemisphere. During her stroke, the left part of her brain shut down completely and for years Jill perceived the world only through her right brain, during which time she felt in complete bliss, peace, and happiness. She had to train herself very hard to re-develop the abilities of her left brain so she could function again. She believes that our right brain is directly plugged into the Universal Field of Energy and we can access it for greater health and happiness. Find out more about Jill’s work HERE.
New York Times bestselling author Gregg Braden is a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality. Following a successful career as a Computer Geologist for Phillips Petroleum during the 1970s energy crisis, he worked as a Senior Computer Systems Designer with Martin Marietta during the last years of the Cold War. In 1991 he became The First Technical Operations Manager for Cisco Systems, where he led the development of the global support team assuring the reliability of the internet in its early days. For more than 22 years, Gregg has searched high mountain villages, remote monasteries, and forgotten texts to uncover their timeless secrets. To date, his work has led to such paradigm-shattering books as Human By Design, The God Code, and The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief. Gregg’s work shows that the key to our future lies in the wisdom of our past.
The key message I learned from Gregg
We are all connected by a continuous field of energy that we cannot see, but nevertheless exists (with scientific proof to show it) and has a powerful influence on our lives. Gregg refers to this field of energy as The Divine Matrix. His central messages and themes are very consistent with those of the other scientists I mentioned above. Find out more about Gregg’s work HERE.
Have I managed to convince you that there is more to our world than meets the eye and that you can harness the Universal Energy Field to drastically improve your life?
One of my great passions as a Life Coach now is helping you tap into (proven) Universal Laws to improve the quality of your life. I’ve put all my knowledge of these Laws into a series of blog posts that I would love to share with you because I know they will cause so many positive changes for you!
Get a cup of tea and head over to my very first article of the series and learn how to turbo-charge your life with abundance, peace, and prosperity!
Before we get started on this journey of understanding and harnessing the Law of Attraction to create more of what you want, there are a few things worth mentioning up-front.
Depending on your beliefs and background, what you’re about to learn might challenge you to stretch beyond what you currently believe about who we are and how the world works.
I know that I personally had to shift my own perspective and beliefs in order to embrace what the great spiritual leaders have long been teaching us about Universal Abundance Laws and how they work.
My journey into challenging my own beliefs started when I was in my early twenties. I developed the mystery illness ‘chronic fatigue’, which I suffered for many years. It was a debilitating condition that made me feel continuously exhausted and unwell, affecting my whole life. When medical doctors were unable to help me, I was forced to approach the ‘alternative’ healing sector, which challenged my own beliefs about health and the mind-body-spirit-connection. The key message I needed to embrace in order to heal myself was this:
You are more than just your physical body.
We all have a field of energy around us – which I will refer to as the Human Energy Field. This energetic field extends several feet to several metres beyond our physical skin. All of our physical problems begin with a distortion in this human energy field, predominantly through dysfunctional beliefs about ourselves / others / life, and the longer these distortions persist, the more likely we are to develop a physical symptom. Blockages in our energy field eventually become blockages in our physical bodies. And many of the ‘alternative’ healing methodologies rely on ancient wisdom and knowledge that has been passed down through the generations, which work on improving the human energy field (releasing blockages), in order to heal the physical body.
When I was ill with chronic fatigue I was amazed and surprised at how much benefit I received from alternative healing techniques like Reiki, Tai Chi, energy work, hypnosis and Bioresonance (a technique where distortions in your energy field are measured and corrected). These techniques were so effective for me, which I found hard to rationalise with my logical mind. I now understand that these healing modalities are effective because they work on healing the human energy field, and this healing eventually filters down into the physical body. I also discovered that I was able to impact my own energy field directly through my thoughts, beliefs and my focus of attention, to eventually heal my physical symptoms.
Consistent, negative thoughts become blockages in our energy field, which eventually become blockages at the physical level. And the opposite is also true. Consistent, positive thoughts expand and nourish your energy field, resulting in not only improved health, but also increased levels of abundance, ease, and flow.
In my introductory video below, I talk about major scientific breakthroughs that have confirmed the existence of our human energy field and how we can impact the energy field through our focus of attention.
The key points to understand from my video above are:
You are more than just your physical body.
You are surrounded by an energy field. The existence of this human energy field has been confirmed through MANY scientific experiments and discoveries (some of which I talk about above in my video).
The quality of your energy field (and hence your health and your life experiences) can be directly improved through improving your thoughts, your beliefs and your focus of attention.
You have the power to create more health, vitality, joy, ease, and ABUNDANCE in your life through shifting the quality of your thoughts, beliefs and focus of attention. And in the following three days I’m going to show you how.
Bruce Lipton, Ph.D, has played a key role in raising our awareness of the links between the physical world and the energetic/emotional world. He wrote the famous book THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF in which he proved that our beliefs impact our health and our DNA.
Here’s what Bruce says::
In The Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution and The Honeymoon Effect I discuss ‘invisible forces’ influencing our lives. Young people who have been exposed to the mind-bending tenets of quantum physics throughout their lives may underestimate the revolutionary nature of its findings. I on the other hand was trained in conventional medicine, which separates the invisible from the visible, the spiritual from the non-spiritual, matter from energy, the mind from the physical body. The truth is that all of those dichotomies have been proven false by quantum physics, which has found that the universe is not as Newtonian physicists or pharmaceutical researchers or atheist scientists have imagined it. Instead, the Universe is as the ancient wisdom of aboriginal cultures conceived it. Aboriginal cultures do not divide the world into rigid categories like rocks, air and humans, for they are all imbued with Spirit, with invisible energy. Matter and energy are completely entangled just as aboriginal cultures knew instinctively and quantum physicists proved. To quote Albert Einstein: “The [invisible] Field is the Sole Governing Agency of the Particle.”
Dr Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
Cell Biologist, Specialist in Epigenetics, Author of the International Bestseller THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF and more
So much about your journey into abundance is about being open-minded and allowing yourself to experience life differently. I invite you to keep an open mind and trust that what I am about to share with you really works!
Did you know that the single governing law in our particular Universe is the LAW OF ATTRACTION?
If you want to understand Abundance, you need to understand the LAW OF ATTRACTION. And there’s been a lot of misinformation out there about how this Universal governing law works.
Do you remember all the hype surrounding the movie “THE SECRET” when it came out all those years ago? The movie was all about the Law of Attraction. I really liked the message in the movie, but despite their best intentions, I do feel it comes across a little simplistic and materialistic, telling people they can have whatever house or car they desire if they can just imagine having it. Many people miscontrued the movie to be promoting the idea that “If you want a Ferrari, you just need to visualise yourself owning a Ferrari, put it on a Vision Board and look at it every day, and eventually you will own a Ferrari.”
But I’ve since realized that there’s a little bit more to it than that.
The Law of Attraction teaches you how to be a co-creator in your own life.
The Law of Attraction is basically this: Like attracts like. Whatever you hold in your thoughts, beliefs, and focus of attention, ultimately becomes your reality. So within, so without.
Medical Intuitive Teal Swan calls it the ‘Law of Mirroring’, which means that our reality is simply a mirror of the thoughts we hold internally.
Teal says regularly: “If you focus your thoughts on something, it must show up in your reality.” It’s a Universal Law.
This is how I’ve come to understand that the Law of Attraction works:
Clear Desire + Belief + Trust + Inspired Action
The key is to let your imagination run wild and to feel into what you would really, really like to manifest in your life. And here is the catch – most of us are trained to think a certain way. We have so many beliefs about what we think we can and can’t have, and when we focus on what we would really love to create in our life, we come up against all the internal, negative programming that tells us we can’t have that.
We’re not trained to dream big.
In fact, most of us have been taught to keep our dreams small. But you can strengthen this ‘dreaming muscle’ and over time and it does get easier, especially when you start seeing the signs of what you desire appearing in your life!
When you’re able to imagine having, being or doing something you care about deeply, something that feels joyful and exciting, you create an energetic ‘blueprint’ for what you desire. That blueprint emanates out into your human energy field – setting forth the forces of attraction that bring an energetic match to that blueprint into your reality.
Acting and behaving as though you already have what you want is a surefire way to activate the Law of Attraction, because as Wayne Dyer always said, we attract into our life things that match our current energetic frequency.
When you step back and surrender, and (importantly) believe and trust that you can and will have the thing you desire, then quite miraculously, what you desire starts turning up in your life somehow. Not always straight away (although sometimes it does!). But the steps to reach it will start appearing right in front of you. And when you commit to taking inspired action to make it happen, you help it to manifest in your reality.
It’s called CO-CREATION – intentionally creating what you want through harnessing the Law of Attraction.
‘Inspired Action’ is action that feels fun and joyful. It’s important to pursue actions that feel light, fun, and meaningful because your emotional state is what determines how effective the Law of Attraction will be.
Did you know that different emotions carry different frequencies? There is now scientific evidence that shows that emotions like kindness, love, compassion, and joy cause our human energy field to ‘vibrate’ at higher frequencies than emotions like boredom, sadness, listlessness. And emotions such as anger, hate, and rage vibrate at very low frequencies.
And since ‘like attracts like’, emotions of a higher frequency will attract in life experiences of a higher frequency.
A lot of us have a strange relationship to our desires.
We try to suppress them or keep them small because we believe we shouldn’t want too much and we’re afraid that if we allow ourselves to want something, then we’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t show up.
Getting clear on what you want is not easy for two reasons:
1. You might not know exactly know what you want;
2. You might believe it’s not possible to have what you really want.
However, before we go any further, you must understand this:
1. It’s OK to have big desires! You have them for a reason. They contain the seeds of your most fully expressed life.
2. You’re allowed to have big desires and more importantly – you deserve them. Abundance is your birthright and you’re supposed to claim it.
3. You have FULL permission to desire everything you desire.
If you feel any resistance to the above three points, don’t worry, that’s completely normal; it’s the unconscious programming that has generally taught you the opposite throughout most of your life. Just allow the resistance to be there. But don’t let it deter you!
If you want to intentionally bring more of anything into your life, you first need to get clear on exactly what you want. The clearer you are, the more effectively you can harness the Law of Attraction.
Did you know that we usually have our goal setting process around back-to-front?
When trying to figure out what we want, we usually devise goals that (unconsciously) we think are going to make us feel a certain way. But often it turns out that the goals we devised didn’t actually end up making us feel the way we thought they would. For example, perhaps you feel that when you get a promotion and become a manager and a higher salary, you’ll be able to buy the home you want and finally feel happy. Except when you finally receive that promotion and you have the new home, you realise soon after that you still feel empty and restless inside.
To be more effective in your goal-setting, you first need to uncover how you want to feel – and then devise goals to more intentionally help you feel the way you actually want to feel.
If you’re feeling stuck and you’re not sure how you want to feel, please take a moment to browse through the library of images contained in the Core Desired Feelings Library that contains more than 100 FEELINGS (based on Danielle LaPorte’s original concept of Core Desired Feelings). Getting clear on how you want to feel can be a very powerful way to set goals that really get to the heart of what you want to experience.
Ready for more flow of abundance into your life? Try this!
Choose ONE area of life in which you’d like to experience more abundance, and get very specific about exactly how you want it to manifest.
Clarity of intention is everything in the Law of Attraction.
Task 1 – How do you want to feel?
Think about how you want to feel within the next few weeks/months. If you need help figuring out how you want to feel, be sure to have a browse through the Core desired feelings library.
When you get clear on how you want to feel, write it down. Use 3 – 10 words to describe how you want to feel.
Task 2 – Visualise a goal you would like to manifest
Take a few long, deep breaths and breathe into your belly. Feel it moving in and out.
Now close your eyes and imagine a GOAL that will help you FEEL how you want to feel. Write it down.
Task 3 – Make the goal specific and make it feel good!
Make the goal very specific. If you want to experience more financial freedom, write down how much money you want to make and BY WHEN. The goal needs to feel like an exciting stretch – not too much of a stretch that it feels overwhelming and impossible, but one that would be really fun and exciting to achieve.
If you want to attract someone into your life, get very specific on what that person looks like, what their personality is like, what you love about them and what they love about you. Where do they live and what do they do?
If you want to experience more flow and abundance in your business, what would that look like specifically? How many clients would you like each month or how many programs would you need to sell, and how easily would you find those people? Get specific on how your business would look and feel.
Remember, the more specific, the more effectively this will work!
That’s it for today. I hope you’ve learned something new and have been able to come up with a clear and specific GOAL to focus on; the first critical step.
Do you wish you could live your truth more fully and experience greater levels of freedom, fulfilment, love and happiness? Get your FREE copy of my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING YOUR TRUTH now and discover the 5 pillars of authentic living – your gateway to happiness! Click here to download it now.
In 2017 I was fortunate to work alongside 10 powerhouse female entrepreneurs to create the much-anticipated anthology THE ART OF UNLEARNING: CONSCIOUS CHOICES FOR EMPOWERED LIVING. Our collaboration explores the art of ‘unlearning’ all the explicit and implicit messages we hear as we grow up, in order to be ourselves fully and to live life on our own terms.
The book is a collection of inspirational stories by women who have thrown off the shackles, rewritten their own life rules and overcome difficult obstacles to find a way to live from their heart and thrive.
When the two instigators of this beautiful collaboration – Lisa Marie Pepe and Divya Parekh – put out their call for authors early in 2017 with their title ‘The Art of Unlearning’, I knew I had to be a part of the project. ‘Unlearning’ has been the central theme of my life journey so far and is now at the heart of my work as a coach who is passionate about helping women live a life true to their hearts.
What is ‘Unlearning’?
When we’re growing up we unknowingly absorb a multitude of messages in the form of parental and societal expectations about what it means to be ‘a good person’, or ‘successful’ or ‘morally correct’. Sometimes those messages are in alignment with our own personal truth, and sometimes they’re not. When you try to conform to those expectations that don’t feel true for you, you stray from your authentic self and you end up feeling frustrated, empty or unfulfilled as a result.
And if you stray far enough away from your true self, you can end up depressed or unwell. Prolonged negative feelings and emotions are your own internal guidance system, designed to alert you when you’re out of alignment with your personal truth. As you’ll find out in the book, the more I personally tried to suppress or ignore my own negative feelings in my journey of life, the more miserable and unwell I became.
It wasn’t until I started acknowledging, listeningto and acting on those emotions that things started to change for the better.
In need of inspiration? Get your copy of our #1 International Bestseller now!
There is most definitely an ‘art’ to figuring out what is true for each of us, and it is equally an ‘art’ to live your life in accordance with that truth. ‘Unlearning’, as the word suggests, requires that you first unlearn everything that you have assumed is ‘true’, in order to learn a new way of thinking and behaving.
To embrace new ways of viewing the world and to re-shape your life inside of those new beliefs, you first need to unlearn any limiting mental models, false internal narratives or beliefs that you’ve developed and embraced throughout your life.
And because adapting new beliefs requires you to change, it can feel uncomfortable.
In the foreword of our book, Literary Strategist Ann Weber uses a great analogy for unlearning: Learning to drive a car on the ‘other’ side of the road. When you go to a country that drives on a different side of the road to what you’re used to, it takes a lot of effort, small mistakes, feelings of discomfort and persistence before you can forget how to drive on the side that you’re used to, in order to drive effectively on the ‘other’ side.
And the same goes for adapting any new belief or behaviour; we first have to forget about how we used to think, and really consciously and proactively CHOOSE to believe and act in a new way. And it’s so easy to slip back into the ‘old way’. Which is why we all need guidance and support during any period of change – to keep us on the path we truly want to walk.
In our book THE ART OF UNLEARNING, nine different women share their own stories about what led them or, in many cases, forced them, to unlearn outdated ways of thinking, in order to shape their own lives in accordance with their personal truth and heart. The book is an uplifting, inspiring read that will – I hope – inspire you to dig deeper to find your own personal truth and to make conscious choices to align yourself more closely to it.
Below I share the 5 powerful myths, messages, and beliefs that I personally had to UNLEARN before it was possible for me to step into a new way of living for myself, in alignment with my heart and soul. You’ll have to get yourself a copy of the book in order to find out what happened to me – and 8 other women – as a result of believing our societal myths … and how we found ways to rebuild ourselves and our lives from the ashes of these false truths!
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
5 POWERFUL MYTHS YOU NEED TO UNLEARN TO BUILD A LIFE YOU LOVE.
1. The things you love doing and that feel easy are for ‘hobbies’; not for a real job.
In high school, I loved languages, literature, and the humanities. They felt natural and easy to me; it was as though my brain was wired for them. I could sail through exams with relatively little effort, in comparison to the maths and sciences subjects, which felt hard and tedious and required huge amounts of effort to get decent grades. And yet, when it came time to choose a study at University, the well-intentioned people around me advised that I choose financial security by studying science & engineering, which I pursued for 15 years, at the cost of my overall personal happiness and health, as you’ll find out more about in the book.
THE REAL TRUTH: The things that you love doing and that feel easy form an essential and very central part of your most joyful and abundant life path and purpose.
2. It’s not practical or responsible to do what you love.
It’s not hard to understand why our parents and teachers might have cautioned us into choosing security over joy. For many of our parents, their families had been busily trying to rise up out of the first two layers of the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Emerging out of the post-depression era, many of our Baby Boomer parents knew nothing but hardship and struggle growing up, which they passed onto us. But fortunately for many of us today (particularly in the developed world), we’re experiencing unprecedented times of prosperity and we’re at a stage in our human evolution in which self-esteem and self-actualization are now possible.
THE REAL TRUTH: When you engage in activities you love, that you’re good at and that you’re passionate about, you become magnetic and unstoppable and you find ways to make an abundant income no matter what the circumstances. Doing what you love ensures that you’re the happiest and most balanced version of yourself, which has positive ripple effects to everyone in your life, both financially and emotionally. In actual fact, it’s irresponsible and not practical TO SUPPRESS your genuine desire to do what you love.
3. Others know what’s best for you.
As children, we start out being very connected and in-tune with our own hearts. And yet many of us are taught from a young age that our parents and teachers know what’s best for us and that we can’t trust our own inner impulses and desires. We’re told that our dreams aren’t possible, or realistic or practical. Over time we learn to disconnect from our hearts as we’re forced to suppress the internal whisperings we hear, pushing them into the background as wishful thinking.
THE REAL TRUTH: Learning to connect to and trust the pure intelligence from your heart is the fastest path to living an authentic and joyful life.
4. You’re not supposed to enjoy work. If it was fun, they wouldn’t call it work.
I truly used to believe this one and I do believe it’s the reason I stuck it out in my career for so long, even though I felt so empty and miserable. As I was growing up, I understood work to be a necessary evil to help pay the bills. As I looked around me, it seemed that everyone who was ‘successful’ was working incredibly long hours and sacrificing much of their personal life for the demands of their job. And it seemed natural that I would have to do the same. But can you think of someone you know who absolutely loves their work and how they seem to just naturally THRIVE, emotionally AND financially? That’s because we experience abundance in all areas of our life when we commit to doing what feels joyful.
THE REAL TRUTH: You ARE supposed to enjoy work. When your work is accompanied by feelings of joy and positive emotion, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of creativity and potential that has limitless positive ripple effects. If you really don’t enjoy your work, it’s a sign you need to do something else! You’re doing yourself and everyone else around you a disservice by sticking it out in a job you really don’t like. Of course, every job has parts we don’t like. But if you don’t come home with a genuine, overall feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction at the end of each week, maybe it’s time to start doing some deep self-reflection to find out how you can start realigning your life with your own personal truth and happiness.
5. Materialism and wealth are true signs of success.
This was certainly something that seemed true to me while growing up; that my success would be measured by the material possessions I’d be able to accrue. It certainly seemed to be the way everyone else measured each other’s success. Unfortunately, the more money I seemed to make, the more miserable and empty I felt inside.
THE REAL TRUTH: The definition of ‘success’ is personal for everyone. For me personally, it’s having mutually nurturing relationships and connections, being able to spend time with my precious friends and family, being able to make a positive impact through my work, loving the work I do and the people I work with, having time to travel and experience the world and feeling a deep sense of joy and gratitude each and every day.
Expat life can be a wild ride filled with fun, laughs, adventure, good times and perhaps most of all – challenge.
It’s guaranteed to push you out of your comfort zone, confront you with your own shortcomings and force you to grow in ways you hadn’t expected. I realise now in hindsight how naïve I was coming into the whole experience six years ago when we embarked on our expat journey. It would have been helpful to get some advice from a seasoned expat wife beforehand, hence my reason for writing this letter (below), in the hope that my words might help other women setting out on their new adventure.
I’ve travelled extensively throughout my life and lived and worked in several different countries, including Paraguay, the USA, Italy, the UK and The Netherlands.
So it’s not that living overseas is new to me. But being an ‘expat’ is …. different … for reasons I’ll explain.
Expat experiences vary greatly and it seems the kind of experience you have depends very much on the company your family is relocating with and the size of the project. We left Australia six years ago for our expat adventure involving two years in Paris, France followed by four years in Geoje, South Korea. Our first two years in Paris were very different to the past four years in Korea, not only because the countries are so different but because in Paris the project was still in the design phase and therefore the foreign staffing requirements were much smaller. The work was being done predominantly by French staff with a small number of expats like ourselves. We found a rental apartment in central Paris and set about immersing ourselves in French life, language and culture, grateful for the opportunity to experience French life firsthand.
In Korea, the project moved into its construction phase and hundreds of expats were brought in to complete the mammoth project. To provide enough accommodation for all the foreign employees and their families, the company had no choice but to rent out whole apartment blocks in Geoje. As a result, it’s felt at times like living in an expat bubble on the fringes of Korean society, in a microcosm of the United Nations together with families from all different cultures and nationalities. At times you could even forget you’re in Korea, until you go into town to do the grocery shopping and remember that you can’t read the packaging on anything and often have to guess what you’re buying, you can’t ask questions or communicate with shop staff and can’t read any of the signposts (challenging when there’s big red letters and you don’t know what they mean!). While all this can be overwhelming at first and you feel like a fish out of water, it gets easier with time as you adapt and adjust.
The opportunity to live as an expat is truly a privilege.
You’re able to experience another way of life, travel to countries you might otherwise never visit, make friends with people from all over the world and expose your children to a truly international community at a young age, helping them cultivate understanding, compassion, and inclusivity.
And yet as an ‘expat wife’, things are particularly challenging. I must admit I don’t like that label; like so many women these days I’ve always taken great pride in having my own independence, my own career and my own salary.
And yet when you choose to temporarily leave your career to follow your husband’s work, ‘expat wife’ inevitably becomes your new identity.
Many families choose to be expats at a time in life when the children are young and more flexible with schooling, and the wife is either happy to take some time off to care for the children full time, take some time away from her career to complete studies in a new direction or work from home (which is becoming more prevalent in this digital world). In some cases the wives are fortunate to be able to work on local projects too, if their skills match a project need. In a few rare cases, it’s the husband who moves overseas for the wife’s job and takes on the primary child-carer role, however they’re definitely the rare minority (yes gender roles are still very traditional in this demographic).
Things become particularly challenging when…
All families live in the same few apartment complexes available, sharing the same facilities and open spaces;
All the children go to school together and share the same school buses, teachers, social and sports activities;
The wives share the same limited number of English-speaking babysitters;
The husbands work together on the same project and often bring their frustrations home to the wives;
Most people are connected by Facebook and other social media channels, which adds another layer of interaction on top of the already intense social situation;
Due to the difficulty of communicating with the locals, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to integrate into local society or expand your social circles beyond the expat community.
Your life becomes inextricably intertwined with the other expats.
The radical intensity of day-to-day interaction with people you barely know leads to some difficult and often very challenging interpersonal situations. It can bring out both the best and the worst in people (myself included). Having been through some challenging and often very painful situations myself, I felt compelled to share this insight in the hope that it helps other expat wives as they set out on their journey. So here goes…
Letter to a Novice Ex-Pat Wife
Congratulations on your decision to embark on your expat journey!
What a wonderful decision you’ve made for you and your family. You have an exciting adventure ahead, one where you’ll get to discover a new culture and way of life, meet people from all different nationalities and backgrounds and expose your children to a beautiful international community with different cultures and lifestyles. It’s a unique and rare opportunity; an experience that I know you’ll treasure forever. You will learn a lot, possibly more than you bargained for. It will test you in ways you probably couldn’t have imagined. You may experience not just wonderful highs but perhaps many deep lows as well.
And that’s the part nobody tells you about before you leave.
When you move overseas, you leave all your friends and family behind. And because we’re social beings, it’s in our nature to want to find new friends quickly. When you arrive in the community, there’ll be many different social circles forming or already operating. Try to float among different groups and activities in the beginning. You’ll perhaps feel an enormous urge to fit into one of them as soon as possible, but try to resist that temptation. It will become apparent over time who your people are. Just be patient, friendly and approachable and start getting to know the people around you. If someone invites you over for a coffee or lunch and it feels right, be sure to go along. But don’t divulge too much too soon and keep your guard up politely until you’ve had a chance to get to know them properly.
It takes time to build trust and intimacy in friendships.
Friendships often form (too) quickly in the expat environment. You can end up sharing your lives at a very intimate and personal level without having had the chance to get to know each other. It’s in my nature to be very open and I’ve had to learn the hard way that it’s important to build trust first before you open your thoughts and heart to someone.As you float among different groups and people, be observant and try to get an understanding of the different groups out there and who’s included in them.
In this phase, be sure to listen to your gut and trust your intuition.
Don’t ignore those little alarm bells in your head for the sake of trying to fit in somewhere. If you have an ‘off’ feeling with anyone, be sure to listen to it. Don’t judge them for it and cut them off, because sometimes our judgments can be wrong, but be extra vigilant. Don’t share anything too personal before you’ve taken the time to get to know the people around you.
The expat community would make an interesting study in human psychology, because when a group of strangers ends up living together, working together and socialising together, it creates an unnaturally intense social situation, and well – strange things can happen. When social situations become stressed, it’s natural that our insecurities surface and we fall into default coping strategies. As women. we often unconsciously play out a certain ‘role’.
Over the past six years I’ve experienced, observed and witnessed particular roles that emerge in stressed social environments (and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of falling into some of them myself). To avoid potentially difficult situations, be aware that you might come across these characters (they’re exaggerated in some cases, but you’ll get my drift):
The Queen Bee
The Queen Bee likes to be at the centre of social circles and control who is included and not included. They’re often the ones organising many events and get-togethers as they thrive on social influence and control. They demand loyalty and respect and will do anything to get it, even if it means spreading untruths about others. While they’re charming and often very social extroverts, just be careful as they can have a nasty sting if you upset them or threaten their position somehow.
The charmer can appear seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly showing a lot of interest in you and wanting to spend lots of time with you. They’ve seen something they like about you and decided they want to befriend you. Although it’s very flattering and feels great to our humble little egos, just be careful. Charmers can reel you in with abundant attention, affection, and kindness, and then drop you like a hot potato when you don’t live up to their expectations or someone better comes along. This is hard because they made you feel special and it hurts when they move on. You might end up wondering what you did or what’s wrong with you and beat yourself up. But chances are the flattery caught you off guard and you didn’t have appropriate boundaries in place. Remember, it takes time to build genuine friendships and as tempting as it is, be sure to take your time to get to know someone before you open your life and heart to them.
The Smiling Assassin
Unfortunately, the intensity of the social scene in the expat environment can heighten the insecurities of many women. You might unknowingly trigger jealousy and resentment in certain people and find yourself suddenly on the receiving end of passive aggression. It’s confusing and upsetting when someone is lovely, smiling and friendly to your face and then you find out later they’ve been quietly assassinating your character behind your back, especially if it’s someone you considered a friend and it’s completely unexpected. This is another reason why you must form friendships slowly and carefully.
The Fair Weather Friend
Often in the expat situation, people end up unknowingly getting drawn into conflicts that cause all kinds of drama and tension they hadn’t expected. In future, they might try to avoid conflict at all cost, which means they won’t stick around if you find yourself unwillingly drawn into a conflict yourself. If you end up going through a challenging situation and turn to your friend for help, you might find they’re not there for you. This can be very disappointing if it’s someone you thought was a good friend. However, remember that in the challenging expat social environment, people go into survival mode and will do everything they can to protect themselves. You even might find yourself doing the same in future (I know I have to some extent). While of course, it’s painful to realise you can’t rely on a friend in a time of need, just use it as an indication that this person might not be friendship material in the long term and remember to build your friendships slowly.
The Ice Queen
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn on my expat journey is that it doesn’t pay to stand up to what you perceive as bad behaviour. While you may feel noble, indignant and a little self-righteous in confronting someone for how they’ve treated you or someone else, it never pans out well.
They’ll probably vehemently deny what you’re calling them out on, tell all their friends how unreasonable you’ve been, and then target their hostility towards you instead. They might turn into the Ice Queen, openly ignoring you at every opportunity, throwing you ice daggers with their eyes and perhaps even turning others against you in an attempt to isolate you. If you see someone behaving badly, just take note and keep a safe distance. You can always show your support for the person who’s being treated badly by meeting with them privately and telling them you’re there for them if they need you. But otherwise, avoid confrontation and retreat.
It can be very challenging if your child is involved in a conflict of some kind and you have to deal with a mother whose child is never to blame. Most of us know conflicts arise between children as a natural part of growing up, and sometimes our child’s to blame and sometimes it’s the other child. Or sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding and no one’s to blame at all.
But if a situation arises where your child is very upset and you try to talk to the other mother about it, you might be confronted with the default position of “My child is never in the wrong” (perhaps not in those words). There’s no opening for discussion, your child will be given the blame and you might even be labeled a bad parent. I’ve seen many a friendship break up because of this type of conflict and it’s sad when mothers let this ruin an otherwise good friendship. Again it’s particularly hard when it happens with someone you thought you could count on as a friend.
And of course, there will be many genuine, truly lovely people who don’t have an insecure or unkind bone in their body and are just fun, beautiful people to be around. They will be the ones who take delight in building you up and encouraging you to follow your dreams, not tearing you down. Those are the keepers.
Advice for a Peaceful and Harmonious Expat Journey
Remember that it takes time to find your ‘people’.
Resist the urge to rush into friendships. You can let your guard down once you’ve gotten to know people over time and they’ve proven themselves trustworthy to you. Trust your intuition and simply retreat from anyone that feels out of alignment. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and especially those whose eyes light up when you talk of your goals and aspirations. Some women will take delight in building you up and encouraging you, while others might feel threatened.
In finishing, here’s the most important advice I feel necessary to pass onto you:
Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.
Things are not always as they seem and you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Never make assumptions and always take everything you hear with a very large grain of salt.
In small expat communities where everyone knows everyone, gossip is sadly inevitable. It usually gets embellished with small (sometimes large) untruths that the person at the centre of the gossip has no chance of denying or defending. This can be very damaging to their integrity and reputation. As tempting as it can be at times, never engage in gossip. If someone starts talking negatively about someone else, just smile politely and make an excuse to move away.
If you hear something bad about someone else, reserve your judgment.
There are always two sides to a story. Resist the temptation to believe what you hear about someone else and continue to give the person the benefit of the doubt. It’s not fair to treat them differently, because you have no way of knowing whether what you heard is true (it probably isn’t).
If you’re the target of gossip yourself, hold your head high and let it go.
As painful as it is, you’re often not in control of your own reputation in small expat communities. If people decide to spread untruths about you, there’s sadly nothing you can do and it will test every inch of your self-worth to not react and hold your head high. We all make mistakes and sometimes do things we regret, but gossip makes us pay for them unfairly and in excess. Be gentle with yourself and with others, and extend the benefit of the doubt wherever you can.
Guard your privacy on Facebook and social media. While it’s wonderful to be connected with others through social media, in small expat communities it can add another dimension of invasion into your privacy. Based on my experience, I would recommend being careful of your privacy on Facebook until you’ve gotten to know someone well. You can be ‘friends’ but just limit what you share with people through your privacy settings until you know someone well.
On a positive note, having warned you of some of the less enjoyable types you might come across, this article wouldn’t be complete without recognising, acknowledging and appreciating all the amazing women who have made my expat journey so rich and wonderful (thanks Jane Fitzer O’Shea for the inspiration for some of these types!).
There are The Rocks (the ones who are always there for you no matter what), The Warriors (the ones who go through extremely challenging situations and come out the other side positive and strong), The Funny Girls (the ones who make you laugh so hard your sides ache), The Dancers (the ones who can rock out all night and have endless energy and dance moves), The Helpers (the ones who are always there for everybody in times of need), The Girls Who Took Up a Cause (the ones who dedicate their time and energy to abandoned pets, orphanages, hospitals and any other cause that breaks their heart) and the No Nonsense Ones who aren’t afraid to offend and tell it like it is.
These types will be your saviour and get you through many a challenging period!
Treasure them as they will become your friends for life.
It’s my sincere hope that this insight and guidance helps you have a harmonious and fun-filled expat journey, and avoid much of the struggle myself and others have gone through!
Being an expat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will treasure forever.
Sit back and enjoy the ride!
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
I first read The Healing Code (2010) by Dr Alexander Loyd & Dr Ben Johnson (MD) in 2015. My sister put me onto it after we’d been discussing how much painful emotion I was feeling about a certain issue in my life. She suggested I try the Healing Code, claiming that it would resolve many things for me without me even realizing it. I was a bit reluctant to read yet another self-help book (I’ve read hundreds in my lifetime and I was in the middle of a temporary self-imposed self-help hiatus). But I was so feeling so miserable that I decided to buy myself a copy.
While subtle at first, I’ve most definitely noticed a real change in my mood, energy levels, and inner peace since using The Healing Code. It’s as though a curtain of fog, anxiety, and heaviness is slowly being lifted and I’m starting to tap into my inner well of joy, optimism and health again. I was so inspired by the changes I felt compelled to share this with you all.
The book has a 4.5-star rating (out of 5) on Amazon out of 1500 reviews, and while it’s received a decent amount of backlash and criticism, this is counteracted by a resounding amount of positive feedback and literally hundreds of thousands of testimonials from people who have healed significant issues in their life.
The Healing Code was created by a doctor called Alex Loyd whose wife suffered severe depression, to the point where she contemplated suicide several times.
They tried dozens of different therapies, both conventional and alternative, and read a library full of self-help books over ten excruciating years, but nothing seemed to create lasting change for her. In desperation one day he sent a prayer out to the Universe to please help save his wife. That night, Alex had a dream about certain hand positions that could direct healing energy to the body at the four main ‘healing gates’ of the body. His dream showed him the steps of a healing process that would completely cure his wife’s clinical depression, and as it turns out, has now helped people all around the world heal all kinds of physical problems, sometimes even diseases as severe as cancer.
It sounds a bit ‘out there’, but the fact is it cured his wife of clinical depression and has subsequently healed thousands of people from all kinds of illnesses worldwide.
The Healing Code is a short healing practice that can be done by yourself, to yourself, in around six minutes, three times a day. It involves saying a prayer/request and then directing the energy in your hands to the four main healing gates of your body in a certain sequence (30 seconds on each healing gate), while focusing on ‘Truth Statements’. I’ll describe each of the three components of the methodology for you.
1. The Four Healing Gates
The four ‘healing gates’ of the body that Dr. Loyd was ‘shown’ correspond to the master control centres for every cell in your body. For a short 8-minute demonstration on YouTube of the hand positions you can go here. They appear to work like a hidden fuse box and when the correct switches are flipped on, they will allow healing of almost anything. Directing energy at the healing gates, while focusing on truth statements, removes stress in the body that had switched off the fuse switches. The four areas that are targeted by holding the four specific hand positions are.
Bridge (between the eyes)
The pituitary gland (often referred to as the master gland because it controls the major endocrine processes of the body) and the pineal gland.
The higher functioning left and right brain, the hypothalamus.
The reactive emotional brain, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, plus the spinal cord and the central nervous system.
The spinal cord and central nervous system, plus the thyroid.
These four centres cover the control centres for every system, organ and every cell of the body. When directing energy towards these ‘gates’, healing energy flows from these centres to everywhere in the body.
Using your own hands to direct energy for healing is not a new concept, it is indeed what underlies all ‘alternative’ healing techniques such as Reiki, Tai Chi, Qi-Gong, acupuncture, emotional freedom techniques (EFT) etc., which all aim to harmonise and correct destructive energy patterns within the body.
The Healing Code appears to heal the destructive energy frequencies, thereby healing both emotional and physical issues. While I have to admit I was a little skeptical at first, using these hand positions while focusing on my truth statements has given me noticeable improvements in my own mood, health, and vitality.
2. Truth Statements
Truth Statements are sentences you say out loud to yourself, or listen to as a recording (I recorded mine as voice memos on my iPhone), that heal the areas of life where you feel emotional pain or trauma. The Truth Statements break through what he calls ‘three inhibitors to healing’:
2) Harmful actions (things you keep doing even though you know they’re bad for you)
3) Negative beliefs.
As Dr. Loyd says “These three issues must be addressed and removed from your heart if permanent healing is to take place. If they remain, they will block or inhibit your heart’s ability to heal the rest of the issues in your life”. You can use the truth statements they provide to heal these areas, or you can make your own truth statements that feel more resonant and relevant (I have used a mix of my own and theirs). You can get a copy of their example truth statements on their website by followingthis link here.
There are also 9 virtues that need to be instilled in your heart to enable healing in all areas of your life, which he calls The Core Healing System:
So in total there are 12 ‘healing code categories’. To find out which areas are the best ones for you to focus on, you can use their HEART ISSUES FINDER, which is a questionnaire that helps you pinpoint the emotional issues that are biggest in your life at the moment. You can work your way through all of the virtues eventually, but they recommend starting with the most difficult ones.
3. The Opening Prayer/Request
This is the prayer that you use to open your healing session. If the word ‘God’ doesn’t feel appropriate for you, you can insert whatever name you choose for the Universal force or energy that connects all of us. It does require that you believe (at least partly) that there is an unseen field or higher power that we can tap into for healing. Some other names people use are Spirit, Source, the One, the Divine, for example.
“I pray that all known and unknown negative images, unhealthy beliefs, destructive cellular memories and all physical issues related to _______________________ [your problem or illness] be found, opened and healed by filling me with the light, life and love of God. I also pray that the effectiveness of this healing be increased by 100 times or more.”
Asking to increase the effectiveness of the healing by 100 times is telling the body to make healing a priority. The whole premise underlying the Code is that our physical symptoms and illnesses are caused by what they call the ‘issues of the heart’; emotional pain that we carry with us because of negative experiences we have endured in our life. Each time we experience something negative, we create a picture in our mind of that experience, or a ‘destructive memory picture’. These destructive images create stress in the body. Stress puts the body into ‘fight or flight’, a physiological response that puts all bodily systems on high alert, which is a necessary response to save our lives in emergencies but should not be maintained for long periods of time.
The problem is that the average person in today’s society stays in fight or flight for long periods of time. When that happens, there is one inevitable result; eventually, something breaks down and shows up as a symptom. I can personally vouch for the terrible effects stress have had on my body. In my twenties, I gradually developed chronic fatigue syndrome (where you get overtaken by viruses and experience complete adrenal exhaustion, among other symptoms) due to the high level of chronic stress present in all areas of my life at the time.
When we develop too many symptoms on a prolonged basis, the symptoms develop into disease, which is simply where the weak link in the chain broke under the pressure called stress.
To help you understand their process, I put together a graphic that helps to summarise and explain how the healing code works.
Emotional Pain and Stress
The codes appear to heal all problems – relationships, mental health, career, performance issues etc. – because they propose that all of these problems have the same source: stress caused by emotional pain in our lives, that led to destructive cellular memories in our unconscious minds. Up until recently, it has been very difficult to heal the emotional issues in our heart for three reasons:
People don’t generally want to admit they have them;
If they have emotional pain, they don’t want to talk about it, and;
We haven’t had a way to effectively deal with emotional pain on a medical level.
Emotional pain is stored in your cellular memory, which is memory stored in your cells – all of your cells. For many years, scientists believed that memories were stored in the brain. However, we now know that memory is stored all through our body, which explains why organ transplant recipients sometimes start taking on thoughts, feelings, dreams and personality traits of the organ donor.
To have permanent, long-term healing, we need to heal destructive cellular memories.
We all have memories in our lives that are full of feelings like anger, sadness, fear, confusion, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness… the list is endless. You know how when you recall a certain situation in life that was very painful, you can actually feel it in your body? You bring the image to mind, and immediately you can feel the effects in your body, the anger, rage, betrayal or other heavy feelings. We can often feel them as a physical sensation. That’s because recalling the ‘destructive cellular memory’ has immediate physical effects on the body.
Trying to find ways to ‘cope’ with these negative memories only makes things worse. Suppressing our destructive cellular memories requires a huge amount of energy, and it’s constant. What is desperately needed, and (the authors claim) will change the face of health forever, is a way to heal the destructive cellular memories as opposed to merely coping with them and trying to suppress them. Once you’ve healed the memory, you will not feel the negative beliefs associated with the memory, your body will not be sent into fight or flight mode, and you will feel greater levels of inner peace and improved health.
The whole book is based on two propositions:
To heal your problems you have to heal the stress. Stress is defined as “any situation that makes you feel frustrated, angry or anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another”. Any time we’re feeling strong negative emotions, our body goes into fight or flight mode;
To heal the stress you have to heal your destructive cellular memories, which are the images stored in your unconscious mind from emotional pain that generate negative emotions and hence, stress.
So how do you do the Healing Code?
To start the Healing Code process, you bring to mind an issue that you’re struggling with. This could be ‘my migraines’ or ‘my relationship with my mother’ or ‘I’m constantly being over-looked at work’, for example. While holding this issue in mind, you then say the opening prayer out loud. You then let go of the problem, and start to focus on your truth statements out loud or listen to your recording, while using the hand positions they show you in the book, spending thirty seconds on each healing gate, for a total of six minutes. While doing the Healing Code, I can literally feel my energy lightening and lifting.
The truth statements are so powerful because we often know the truth in our heart the first time we hear or see it. It resonates and uplifts us and we feel it to the deepest core of who we are.
That’s because we have a mechanism inside of us called our ‘conscience’, whose sole purpose is to help us find these truths. When there are too many lies in the heart related to a given subject, the voice of the conscience is drowned out, or at least confused, by competing and disagreeing voices. The key is clearing out these misunderstandings of the heart, and that can be done by reciting the ‘truth’ out loud.
If you’re also intrigued by the potential and possibility of the Healing Code, I urge you to get your hands on a copy of the book and start implementing the simple methodology. Enjoy the power and beauty of the truth statements – the ‘honeycomb, sweet and comforting to the soul’ that can be felt as you relax into your meditation. And let me know how you go. I would love to know if you feel a positive shift, as I have done.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
As an interesting side note on cancer, the co-author of the book Dr Ben Johnson has spent his career specialising in cancer research and treatment. In his opinions, cancer is caused by four issues:
Acid pH/oxygen deprivation
There are increasingly effective medical techniques to deal with issues 2, 3 and 4 in the conventional medical system. However what has been lacking is a way to deal with emotional pain. Could it be possible that this simple methodology for healing emotional pain could be part of the answer to dealing with this? I pray so.
One of the keys to enjoying life to its fullest and experiencing lasting happiness is our ability to maintain inner peace, even in the face of challenging or hurtful situations.
Do you find yourself getting knocked off-centre regularly by different people and/or situations? Or do you often feel hurt by the actions or behaviours of others towards you? If so, you’re not alone. It’s difficult when someone else’s behaviour leaves us feeling hurt, sad, angry or upset, particularly if it’s someone we consider a friend, a close colleague or partner.
But most often, someone else’s hurtful behaviour is a reflection of their own inner turmoil, and nothing to do with your own value as a person. Instead of feeling hurt and unworthy in the face of someone else’s negative behaviours, what if you could be so grounded in your own sense of self-worth that you don’t take their behaviour personally? What if you could remain calm and resist the temptation to react or get drawn into unnecessary drama?
Your ability to stay calm and unaffected in what feels like a hurtful or negative situation is directly related to your level of self-love and acceptance.
I’m about to share with you the most powerful technique I know for developing the essential quality of self-love, which allows you to become more resilient and less knocked around by the people in your life.
Imagine if you could feel so secure and in love with who you are, authentically and at your core, that nothing can disturb your inner peace and you no longer see outside events or situations as a reflection of your own self-worth or value.
One of my favourite teachers Panache Desai talks about the way we see someone when we’re completely, head-over-heels in love with them. Remember how delicious it feels when you first fall in love? Or when you meet a new friend who you think is just amazing? Even if friends or family try to warn you to take it slow, you don’t take any of it on board because you love this person so much that you just refuse to see anything bad about them.
Imagine if you could feel that way about yourself?
Imagine knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you’re a valuable, wonderful, precious person that the other person would be privileged to have in their life. This is the level of radical self-acceptance and self-love I believe we all need to develop and maintain as part of our mission in life.
Because when you develop this level of self-love, you’re so at peace with yourself that nothing can disturb your sense of well-being. And this has a positive impact on everyone and everything around you.
You’re like the rock in the middle of the storm, exuding nothing but peace and tranquility outwards to others, like ripples in a pond. Unflappable. Wrapped up in your own self-love.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you reach this level of self-love and acceptance? As you can probably guess – it’s not easy and can take a long time, depending on how far you’ve drifted from your natural state of unconditional love due to the environment you grew up in. I still struggle with it regularly myself and it’s something I have to constantly work on.
If you’re like most of us, you probably grew up being bombarded with all kinds of negative messaging that led you to believe that you’re not OK just as you are. You probably needed to work harder, be smarter, achieve more, do more, change the way you look, find better friends or whatever it was you were told. As a result, you probably developed a very good inner critic who beats you up and criticises you before anybody else can. And if you’re like most people, that inner critic takes up a lot more space in your mind than the loving, caring voice who tells you that you’re wonderful and perfect as you are, who is forgiving and understanding when you make mistakes and comforts you with kind words when you need them.
But somehow you need to find ways to start giving that loving, caring voice more time and space in your own head and heart.
Panache describes this level of self-love that I’m talking about as the ‘liquid gold’ that lives deep within you. It’s your true essence; it’s who you were when you came into the world, before you started becoming bombarded with societal conditioning and negative beliefs about yourself and life. And finding that liquid gold is a little like the mining process itself; you have to dig and excavate through the layers of stories, pain and untruths that you’ve accumulated in life, before you can access it.
I did a lot of this digging and excavating in my mid-thirties during a life crisis that caused me to reevaluate my entire life. With the help of my counsellor and various therapists, we peeled back many layers of emotional pain that I’d accumulated. While I realised at the time that I wasn’t ‘done’ in any sense, I thought we’d worked through the majority of obstacles to self-love that I had within me. And for a few years I cruised along in a fairly harmonious way, feeling quite peaceful and satisfied. But it’s almost as though life lets us off the hook for a little while and when we move to a new level of self-love and acceptance – BAM!
Life continues to bring us new, difficult situations that show us where we still harbour old wounds and where we haven’t yet reached peace and acceptance within ourselves.
This is the dynamic that’s been happening to me this past year. I’ve been confronted regularly with situations in relationships that have been very challenging and painful. There have been many times when I’ve been thinking “What’s wrong with me?”. Slowly I’m coming to realise that it’s life showing me the next part that’s up for healing – another part of myself that I haven’t yet learned to embrace and love; another situation in which I’m affected by the opinions and behaviours of those around me, because I haven’t yet learned to love myself unconditionally.
Of course, we always need to carefully look at our own role in difficult situations and take full ownership of where we’ve contributed to it going ‘wrong’. But in some cases, it’s not about us. Sometimes just by being yourself, you will trigger reactions in someone else because of emotional pain they’ve accumulated in their own life.
In Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process, he describes the difference between ‘reacting’ and ‘responding’. Reacting is when you retaliate with anger or drama. Responding is when you simply notice what’s happening, observe, and then take the appropriate measures. Perhaps you need to find better ways to communicate with this person, or have stronger boundaries with them in future. Or maybe you need to find a way to step back and create some loving distance. But before you decide anything, you’ll need to remove yourself from the situation entirely, so you can process what’s happened and figure out the appropriate response.
It’s very difficult to remain unaffected in the presence of someone else’s anger or passive-aggressive behaviors that are directed towards you.
Learning to be peaceful and non-reactive in the face of negativity and drama is the biggest gift you can give yourself and others.
Rather than adding to the drama, you’re able to diffuse potentially difficult situations. You can always tell when you’re in the presence of someone who feels very comfortable in their own skin, right? They exude a kind of peace and tranquility that’s infectious and lovely to be around.
They make us feel good about ourselves, because they feel good about themselves.
And how do we get to the point where we feel really good about ourselves? It’s an ongoing process that we’ll find ourselves working on our whole lives if we’re committed to the process of cultivating inner peace. There are many different techniques and therapies available for helping us heal our emotional wounds and develop genuine self-love. The process I describe below is often referred to as working with your ‘Inner Child’ and has been the most powerful exercise I’ve found in my own life to help liberate me from my own triggers and patterns. Next time you feel hurt by someone else’s behaviours, try these simple yet powerful steps:
How to Comfort Your Inner Child to Develop Greater Levels of Inner Peace in 7 Steps
Step 1: Remove Yourself From the Situation
If someone has just done something that feels hurtful or unfair, avoid reacting immediately (if you can) and take a deep breath. Feel the emotion rising within you and try to sense where and what the feeling is. Is it sadness? Is it anger? Is it in your chest? Or in your solar plexus? Or your gut? Try to breathe into the feeling and be with it for a moment. This is hard if someone else’s behaviour takes you by surprise and you’re triggered into a default response. If you’ve reacted, don’t worry. Find a way to excuse yourself as quickly as possible and give yourself some space and time to process what’s just happened.
Step 2: Name the Feelings You’re Experiencing
Find a quiet spot as quickly as possible and close your eyes. Try to sit with the emotion that’s been triggered in you. If you can, try to name the feeling. Sometimes just naming the feeling can be very liberating. Say it out loud: “I feel so hurt” or “I feel so let down” or “I feel so angry” or “This really hurts, here in my heart”. This step is powerful because as the saying goes, “You have to feel it, to heal it.”
Step 3: When Have You Felt This Feeling Before?
Try to recall when you’ve felt this feeling before. Perhaps it was recently or perhaps it was a long time ago. Go back as far as you can and try to recall your earliest memory of this feeling. For example, I have a pattern of feeling hurt if I feel I’m being ‘left out’ of certain situations. When I sat with this feeling of being left out, I was able to trace it back to many situations that I experienced with my two sisters as I was growing up, when it felt as though they were excluding me. My earliest memory was when I was about five years old.
If you can only remember a recent situation, that’s OK. With time you’ll be able to access your earlier memories. But most psychologists agree that all large emotional triggers we feel now are caused by an original ‘wounding’ event that happened once or multiple times in your youth. And this pattern will keep surfacing in other lives, through other people, until we recognise and resolve the emotional pain attached to the original wound.
Step 4: How Did Your Younger Self Feel When it First Happened?
Bring that original or earlier event to mind and picture your younger self sitting in front of you. How ist that young self feeling? Sad? Hurt? Disappointed? Angry? Ashamed? Humiliated? Try to tap into all the feelings and see yourself feeling them. When I first tapped into mine, I could see my younger self sitting on her own, sobbing with sadness, big tears rolling down her cheeks, shoulders heaving up and down.
Step 5: Wrap Your Younger Self Up in Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Now in your mind, wrap your younger self in your arms and cuddle him/her as you would your own child. Tell them you’re here for them and you understand how they’re feeling. Tell them it’s OK to feel the way they do. Hold them in your arms as long as you need to for the strong emotion to pass.
Step 6: Remind Your Younger Self of Their Perfection, Worthiness, and Wholeness.
Now, remind your younger self of all their positive qualities. Remind them that they’re perfect, whole and complete just as they are. Do this several times, or as many times as you need. Stay with your inner child as long as you need to, and when you feel ready, let them know you’re going now, but that they can call on you anytime they need some love and attention.
Step 7: Take Some Deep Breaths and Complete the Meditation.
Open your eyes, take a few deep breaths. You have just conversed with and comforted your inner child. Know that you can do this every time you feel hurt or triggered. Do it as often as you need to.
The Inner Child technique is one of a number of important tools and techniques to help yourself cultivate self-love and acceptance. To help you on your own path of greater self-love and acceptance, there are a number of other techniques and ideas you can implement. I suggest that you also read these related blog articles:
There are also several great resources and courses I would also recommend:
Bethany Webster’s 7 week course“Heal the Mother Wound” which can also be applied to healing any other relationship in your life, and does not involve the other person – this is an inside job, with powerful effects on your life and your ability to stay grounded in self-love and acceptance.
Have you ever had a big question that you want answers to, and no matter how much you try to rationalise and analyse the options with your mind, you just can’t get the clarity you need?
Well, you’re not alone. In fact, in our modern western civilisation, the majority of us spend most of our time ‘thinking’ with our brain. And yet, our brains are only one part of an entire world of intelligence that we have access to. And when all your good friends tell you to “Follow your heart” or “Listen to your heart” during times of confusion, it turns out there’s more truth and substance to this advice than just well-wishing friendship.
Modern-day breakthroughs in scientific research have shown that we actually have three intelligence centres in our bodies. According to the mBraining Institute, we all have “complex, adaptive and fully functional neural networks or ‘brains’ in 1) the heart, 2) the gut, and 3) the head.” And when you’re able to combine the intelligence from all three intelligence centres in your body, you experience “synergistic effects that bring greater wisdom to decision making, relationships and life.”
And mBraining is not the only organisation that researches and talks about the three different intelligence centres. Other organisations like The Omega Institute, HeartMath, and The Shift Network, and great leaders who bridge science and spirituality like Gregg Braden and Deepak Chopra ,have long been talking about the untapped power available to you when you integrate your three intelligence centres.
I call the integration of your three intelligence centres, and the wisdom that emerges from it, your inner compass.
And you can access your inner compass by connecting to your heart, using very specific steps that I’m about to show you.
The human heart has approximately 40,000 neural cells. This means the heart has its own nervous system, which actually sends more information to the brain, than the brain sends to the heart!
From an electromagnetic perspective, the heart’s electromagnetic field is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain’s. Our heart’s electromagnetic field expands and touches those within 2 – 8 metres of where we are positioned!
When fully embodied and integrated, your Heart Intelligence gives you the ability to be fully real, present, connected and heart-directed in every area of your life so that you can experience greater levels of performance, creativity, intuition and higher order thinking.
So it’s no wonder that you can’t solve big life questions simply through using your logical ‘head’ brain. To get true clarity, you need to integrate the intelligence from all three intelligence centres – head, heart, and gut.
In fact, this is what the now famous mBraining modality is all about. Grounded in verified scientific research, Australian psychologists Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka developed the mBIT coaching philosophy (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques), which is comprised of a suite of tools and techniques for communicating with, integrating and harnessing the power of your three intelligence centres which, when working together, produce amazing results. Today there are thousands of mBIT coaches in over 32 countries worldwide, helping people integrate their three intelligence centres to improve their lives.
And other organisations like the HeartMath Institute are passionate about harnessing the heart’s intelligence and have made breakthroughs in the development of user-friendly technology that you can use with your smartphone to harmonise the communication between your three intelligence centres. HeartMath has a raving fan base with thousands of great testimonials and results, endorsements from high-profile leaders leaders in the personal development space, and over 8,000 certified HeartMath practitioners worldwide.
It’s clear that our heart has an intelligence that can be accessed in order to make strategic decisions that help us live happier lives. And if we’re only using our ‘head brains’, we’re missing out on a vast source of wisdom. And that’s when we end up feeling stuck and confused.
In our current society, most of us have the tendency to seek answers outside of ourselves when we’re feeling stuck or confused about a particular life question. We ask our friends what they think, we ask our parents or mentors, or we seek counselling or therapy to help us find our own answers. And this gets us even more confused, because everyone of course has a different opinion about what you ‘should’ do. One of the most powerful things my counsellor said to me back during my ‘dark night of the soul’ – the term I use to refer to my period of extremely challenging and difficult circumstances in my mid-thirties – was this:
“You need to stop seeking the answers outside of yourself and realise that you have them right there inside you.”
And she was right. But I was so disconnected from myself that I had no idea how to go about accessing my own inner answers. I had to go through a long process of slowly reconnecting to myself and my truth before I was able to start listening to – and receive guidance from – my own inner compass. Your inner compass is your true essence; the part of you that is all-knowing, all-powerful, creative, loving, and limitless – connected to the infinite part of you that come refer to as your ‘soul’. Your soul is not limited by fear, anxiety, or self-doubt. It knows the path of your fullest expression. Connecting with your inner compass and your soul brings you into alignment with your highest and most fully-expressed potential.
If you’ve become disconnected from your own inner guidance, the good news is that you can reconnect to it – and most importantly, with time, learn to trust it. The more you practice connecting to your own inner guidance, the stronger the ‘knowing’ becomes and the more automatic and second-nature it becomes. It really is the only way to make good decisions.
If you’re serious about accessing your inner compass, you need to create quiet, reflective spaces in your life.
When life is busy and chaotic, you’re not able to hear the gentle guidance constantly coming from within, particularly if you’re not paying attention to the signs. To hear your inner guidance, you need to have a specific intention to converse with it. And then you need to create enough space in your life to be in a receptive state, to receive its guidance. It speaks to you during those peaceful, contemplative moments when the hyperactive mind is quiet enough for it to be heard. An over-busy mind drowns out anything that your inner guidance might be trying to whisper to you. You need to get quiet and find ways to cultivate stillness inside.
To access your inner compass, or heart’s intelligence, there are three strategies that are highly effective when used simultaneously.
Get quiet and breathe deeply (this signals to your brain that you’re shifting from an ‘alpha’ awake state to a ‘beta’ relaxed state, which is the state in which you can attune to your inner wisdom.)
Bring your awareness and full attention to your chest area.
Bring to mind a joyful experience and immerse yourself in positive emotions.
The reason this works is because joyful memories allow you to vibrate at a high frequency, which is critical for accessing your higher knowing.
Did You Know that Emotions Vibrate at Different Frequencies?
Your energetic vibration can be measured, and your vibration rate (a.k.a. frequency) depends on the emotional state you’re in. It’s become a well-known fact in scientific and spiritual realms nowadays that we vibrate at different frequencies depending on our emotional state. The frequency of different emotions has been measured, and scientists have developed the following guide to the frequency of emotions (the image below is from The Omega Institute).
So as you can see, when you’re immersed in happy, peaceful or joyful memories or experiences, you vibrate at one of the highest rates possible. This creates a fast connection to your inner compass, because your higher guidance comes from your soul, which is firmly grounded in the realm of ‘enlightenment’ at 700+ Hz.
Below I’m going to share with you the short meditative process that I use regularly to reconnect to my inner guidance. It takes less than ten minutes a day, and it works. If you’d like to try a guided meditation for this process, please be sure to download your ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING YOUR TRUTH, which contains a free recorded version of this meditation inside.
I give full credit to my mentor Gina Maria Mele who first introduced me to this specific process. It’s been my regular go-to practice to access my inner compass and to return to emotional well-being when I get knocked off-centre.
How to Connect with Your Inner Compass
1. Sit quietly with your eyes closed (I prefer sitting because then you’re less likely to fall asleep!). Put your hands on your belly and take deep, slow breaths in through your nose, all the way down into your belly. Feel your hands move in and out as you breathe. Breathe as long as it takes to feel your body and mind relax. Keep focusing all your attention on the breath.
2. Bring your attention to your chest. Feel it rise and fall with each breath in and out. Do this until you can feel all your attention and awareness in your chest. Perhaps you can even feel your heart beating.
3. Think of a time in your life when you felt real joy, love, or happiness. Maybe it was while holding your puppy? Or your first kiss? Or holding your baby in your arms for the first time? Or when you finally visited a place you’ve always wanted to go? Perhaps you were with friends and felt a moment of spontaneous fun and laughter. Think of any experience that invokes strong feelings of joy and love.
4. Now take yourself back into that experience and really re-live it in your mind. Remember how it felt, how it sounded, how it looked, how it smelt. Really take yourself back there and feel all the feelings and sensations you felt in that moment.
5. As you sink into those feelings, imagine a big white light radiating outwards from your chest.
6. As you hold the happy memory in your thoughts, bring this white light all the way up to about a meter above your head. As you breathe deeply, now bring it down to about a metre below your feet and all around you, until you’re completely surrounded by a large bubble of white light. You may not be able to visualise this and instead just feel it (depending on your dominant sensory mode).
7. As you sit in the memory of your happy experience in your bubble of white light, bring your focus back to your chest and ask a question that you really want to know the answer to. For example, “What should I do in this situation?”, or What do I really want?” or “What is my unique gift to give to the world?”, or “What steps can I take right now that are in alignment with my highest truth?. Ask whatever question is most relevant to you right now.
8. Sit quietly and wait for any images, sounds or feelings to come to you. Don’t force anything, just sit quietly and listen in an open, receptive mode. If nothing comes, that’s OK too. It will come later. If your mind drifts, bring it gently back to your question and be open and receptive to any guidance.
Sit in this state for as long as you need. Enjoy the experience. You have just connected with your heart. You just felt its energy.
The act of connecting to feelings of joy, happiness, and love while focusing on the area around your chest is the fastest way I know to connect with your heart and receive its guidance.
You might not always like the guidance you get. Maybe the guidance doesn’t fit within the picture of where your ego wants to go – the part of you that’s bound up in expectations of others, or the image you want to project to others. The guidance might push you out of your comfort zone and require you to stretch and grow in ways that feel uncomfortable. But your inner wisdom is never wrong. It will always strive to bring your outer world into alignment with your authentic desires, your personal truth, and your true priorities.
If nothing comes during the meditation itself, rest assured that it will come to you in some way as you go about your business in the next few days or weeks. Pay attention to the signs and guidance you will begin to receive through synchronicity or ‘coincidence’ (there is no such thing as coincidence by the way).
You may not notice anything different initially, but if you commit to doing this for 5-10 minutes every day, you’ll notice your life starting to shift in a subtle but very tangible way.
You’ll start receiving insights seemingly out of nowhere. You’ll start feeling more optimistic, inspired and joyful. You may suddenly just feel a lot clearer about where you want to go. Or you may notice certain relationships are easier and less strained, and you may notice you feel more compassion.
If you take the time to do this visualisation regularly, you’ll notice that you start feeling a gradual reconnection to your true essence and an emergence of real clarity. Take the time to slow down and hear your inner whispers. You won’t be disappointed.
In service to helping you live your fullest and brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Try these powerful questions. They may just give you the answers you need.
A few years back I learned about a powerful set of questions from the visionary thought leader Jeffrey van Dyk, a man who’s on a mission to help people change the world through purposeful business and entrepreneurship.
His questions felt like the missing piece that I’d been seeking to really help people find their inspired path and purpose.
Those of you who know my work will already know that I believe there are four main pieces to discovering your purpose as shown below.
I have in-depth techniques to help people get reconnected to their authentic personality, their strengths (‘proficiency’), and to how they can make money. But I was missing a powerful technique to help people uncover their passion.
I’d tried the usual questions like “What breaks your heart the most?” and “If you could dedicate yourself to one cause in this lifetime, what would it be?” Questions like that can usually give a good indication of what someone is passionate about. But I didn’t yet have a technique that could help people drill down into the specifics of their particular passion, and how that relates to their purpose.
Until I discovered Jeffrey’s questions.
His questions are a powerful way to either confirm that you’re on the right path or to help you get clearer on the specific mission that feel called to serve.
Jeffrey’s approach requires you to look at the ’emotional wounds’ that you’ve suffered over the course of your life so far. This may seem like a strange place to start looking for your passion. But it just happens to be the approach that brings the most powerful insight to people in the search for their unique purpose.
The big underlying assumption – which I believe is the magic key – is this:
The other underlying assumption is that if you’re someone who feels as though you have a specific ‘calling’ to fulfill, it means that you care about your contribution to the world. You’re not just concerned about money or status or image. You feel as though there must be some way that you can contribute your unique gifts and talents in a way that is meaningful and impactful, and allows you to make a positive difference.
When you discover the specific pattern running through all of your life’s ‘wounds’, it’s enlightening and empowering. Because most often this is the one thing that you want to help other people with. You feel passionate about preventing other people from experiencing the same pain or struggle that you went through.
In order to understand Jeffrey’s approach, we first need to understand the answer to the question:
What is an ’emotional wound’?
We’ve all been wounded in some way over the course of our lifetimes, despite the good intentions of our parents or caregivers who tried to protect and nurture us. You may have experienced an acute wound (in the form of the death of a sibling or loved one for example, or physical or emotional abuse) or an experiential wound that was not intended by anyone to cause pain, but nevertheless caused you emotional pain, and caused you to take on certain behaviours to protect yourself into the future.
Follow these steps in order to uncover your specific purpose.
Write down the top 5-10 emotional wounds you experienced as a child/teenager. This could be anything from “My best friend moved to another town” or “My Dad never wanted to see me” or “A mean boy at school called me names” – or anything at all that stands out in your memory as causing some kind of pain to you as a child.
Write down the top 5-10 wounds that you experienced during your adult years. Remember, these could be acute experiences (a painful event) or long-standing patterns (e.g. “No one understood me”, or “I never belonged anywhere”).
Reflect on all the wounds you’ve written down. You might begin to notice that there’s a predominant theme running through them. Not all wounds will fall under this theme, but many will. Try to see if you can find one thread that links the majority of the wounds together.
Once you’ve identified a theme running through the emotional wounds, answer the following questions.
6 Questions to Help You Uncover Your Unique Purpose.
1. What happened? – What happened to you that made you feel so sad or wounded? Was there a common theme in these experiences?
2. How did you feel? – How did these experiences make you feel? Try to find the words to describe it.
3. What did you crave? – In those moments when you felt so wounded, what was it that you craved to be given? Or how did you crave to be treated?
4. What did you do? – How did you start behaving to try to give yourself the things that you were craving?
5. How did you develop as a result? – How did those experiences change you and what kind of person did you become as a result?
6. How might your answers to these questions relate to your unique path and purpose?
To help you along, here are the answers to my questions that helped me get closer to understanding my purposeful path.
Here’s how I found my professional ‘purpose’ in the pattern of my life struggles.
1. WHAT HAPPENED?
I felt pressured to walk a professional path that didn’t feel authentic for me – Engineering. I loved writing, languages, and the humanities and I knew that those were my natural gifts. But I felt very pressured to excel in technical subjects because the people in my environment only valued those subjects. As I entered University I felt I had to follow a technical, academic path in order to be loved and approved of as a person.
I ended up spending almost 15 years in a career that wasn’t aligned with my strengths, personality or passion – I was miserable. I felt empty, unfulfilled and spent many years feeling lost and off-track. My health and relationships suffered severely as a result.
2. HOW DID I FEEL?
I felt pressured, trapped, stressed, and anxious when I was younger. I didn’t enjoy learning all the difficult technical subjects at school and University, they were a struggle for me. Success in these areas required hard work and sacrifice.
I had to ignore the whispers in my heart that kept telling me I wanted to pursue languages, literature, and journalism. During my professional years as a corporate consulting engineer, I felt inauthentic, misaligned and as though my true personality and strengths were suppressed.
I felt like no one could see the real me and no one heard me. I didn’t feel loved or valued for who I am – my authentic self – at my core. I felt disconnected from my truth and my essence.
3. WHAT DID I CRAVE?
I craved approval and permission to be who I am. I craved to be loved, seen and heard as my true, authentic self. I longed to follow my heart and pursue things that make me come alive and allow me to unleash my natural talents in service to others. I craved fun, freedom, abundance and full creative expression.
4. WHAT DID I DO?
In order to fulfil my longing to be seen, valued, and loved, I embarked on a lifetime of over-achieving to gain the approval I desperately wanted. I became something that in my heart I knew was not me.
5. HOW DID I DEVELOP?
I became a wonderful actor, pretending to have it all together and to be living a successful life. Sometimes I even fooled myself. I over-achieved at the expense of my health and relationships. I believed life was a struggle and meant to be difficult.
I neglected myself and my needs, I self-abandoned, all to try to be something I am not. This had disastrous effects on my emotional and physical well-being and my relationships suffered terribly too.
Eventually, I was brought to my knees and I was forced to realise that no-one was benefiting from me living an inauthentic life. I needed to give up the false pretences, let go of everything that felt misaligned and instead tune into my heart to follow my true desires.
When I gave myself permission to do this, everything changed.
6. HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO MY PROFESSIONAL PATH AND PURPOSE?
I feel called to help people find their truth and to find a way make a positive difference doing work they love. I help people to find work that allows them to express their true selves fully.
I love helping each person to feel seen, heard and appreciated for the unique person they are, and to help them bring their whole self into the career and into the workplace.
I spent the first 35 years of my life trying to live up to the expectations of others, trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be.
I struggled and pushed myself relentlessly through studies and a career that wasn’t aligned with my natural strengths, but rather what I thought would win me the validation and approval I desperately craved. I became a master of shape-shifting, able to adapt myself to the perceived expectations of those around me.
Up until my mid-thirties, I played small and dimmed my light, trying to fit into groups who couldn’t see or appreciate the real me. I didn’t feel as though the world could or would accept the real me.
It didn’t feel ‘safe’ to be me, and if the truth be told, I didn’t know how to be me.
And while I’ve come a long way since those days, I still need to very consciously choose to be real. I often catch myself not saying or doing something because I’m worried about how it could be perceived. And while I want more than anything to be true to myself and my values, in reality, it’s not always that easy.
Why do we find it so hard to be incredibly proud of our unique personality, warts and all? Why is it so difficult to shine our light brightly and show everyone the perfectly imperfect person that we are? How do we courageously and unapologetically be ourselves? These are questions I’ve pondered over the past several years on my journey to living more closely in alignment with my personal truth.
Below are five guiding principles that I know will help you if you’re serious about walking the path of genuine authenticity.
5 Guiding Principles of Authenticity
1. Cultivate Genuine Self-Awareness
‘Self-awareness’ is the ability to see yourself clearly, to understand who you are, how others see you, and how you fit into the world. It’s the conscious knowledge of your own personality, character, feelings, and individuality.
In a recent study conducted by Dr. Tascha Eurich, her team interviewed thousands of people over several years and tested their level of self-awareness. Her study showed that there are two types of people:
Those who think they’re self-aware (95% of all people).
Those who actually are (10-15% of all people).
That’s a staggering statistic! Because it means that around 85-90% of us are either lying to ourselves, in denial or just not seeing ourselves clearly. There’s a reason for this: Genuine self-awareness is not easy to develop. It requires a willingness to be brutally honest with yourself, to acknowledge and observe everything about yourself, including your blind spots; confronting the parts of yourself that you don’t particularly like or would rather avoid – you know, those bits that we might be a bit ashamed of, but nonetheless form a part of who we are and how we think and behave.
Being aware of your blind spots and understanding them is the first step in being able to transform them. And they’re called blind spots for a reason – we can’t see them. So we need others to help bring them into our awareness. That’s why 360-Degree Reviews are so powerful in the workplace, and why we need to request honest feedback from others about ourselves. For tips and strategies on exactly how to cultivate this essential quality of genuine self-awareness, check out my article The Happiness Key: How to Become One of the Rare 15% of People Who Enjoy Genuine and Lasting Happiness.
2. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
If you’re used to fitting in with the group or you don’t like to ‘rock the boat’, it can feel very uncomfortable expressing your true opinions or taking a stand to live in alignment with what feels true for you. It can be really scary to put your real self out into the world. The first time I wrote a blog post I experienced an enormous level of fear and to be honest, I still do each time I publish something that reveals something personal or vulnerable about myself. There will always be people who love and appreciate what we have to say, and there will always be some who dislike or despise it – and that’s OK.
The magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Be prepared to get uncomfortable if you’re serious about being authentic.
3. Express Yourself Freely
Authentic self-expression is one of the most fundamental needs and joys of being human. Expressing yourself freely is the cornerstone of authenticity. It means speaking up about your views when appropriate and having the courage to challenge others respectfully when you disagree. It means having the courage to express ‘the real you’ through your work, appearance, activities, home design and any other aspect of life that is an expression of you. When you’re willing to passionately and boldly show up and express your true self and your true ideas and beliefs, you tap into your authentic power. And you become an inspiration and a positive role model to those around you who may also be longing to express themselves more freely.
Look to role models of authentic self-expression such as Ellen DeGeneres, RuPaul, and Elizabeth Gilbert who went against the ‘norms’ to be unapologetically themselves – and received considerable backlash because of it – but now enjoy the freedom and joy of living their truth.
4. Cultivate Genuine Self-Love
Imagine if you could feel so secure and in love with who you are, that you no longer see other peoples’ opinions or behaviours as a reflection of your own self-worth or value. You’re so wrapped up in your own self-love and aligned with your own truth that you’re completely unaffected by how people respond to you.
One of my favourite teachers Panache Desai talks about the way we see someone when we’re head-over-heels in love with them. Remember how delicious it feels when you first fall in love? Or when you meet a new friend who you think is just amazing? Even if friends or family try to warn you about this person, you don’t take any of it on board because you just refuse to see anything bad about them. Imagine if you could feel that way about yourself? That’s the kind of radical self-love you need to cultivate if you’re going to live your truth freely.
Appreciating yourself is a wonderful way to strengthen your ability to express yourself authentically. When you’re no longer motivated by the approval of others, now you are finally free to express yourself freely and unapologetically. For strategies on how to to develop this essential quality of genuine self-love, check out my article Peaceful Heart: 7 Powerful Steps to Cultivate True Inner Peace.
5. Celebrate Who You Are
When you’re living authentically, you’re not only in love with you who you are and feel at peace with yourself, but you actively celebrate your uniqueness and perfect imperfection. Focus on the beauty and originality that you bring to the world by being yourself. Celebrate the wonderful person you are, and forgive yourself lovingly for the areas where you think you fall short. You’re only human after all. We all are. Embrace your imperfection and celebrate everything about you!
Live true to your values, expressing yourself, taking risks, focusing on what matters.
When you have a conflict with someone, you talk with him/her about it directly.
When you need help or support, you reach out and ask for it.
You know what matters most in your life, and you live consistently according to your priorities.
When you don’t understand something, you admit it and ask for clarification.
When someone challenges or disagrees with you, you don’t back down if you know it’s your own personal truth.
You are not strongly influenced by the opinions of those around you – your heart is your most important guiding compass.
You usually feel safe speaking up and sharing your true feelings, even if they’re negative.
You don’t worry about making mistakes and letting people down – you certainly don’t let that stop you doing anything.
You are aware of your strengths and feel grateful for them.
When you make a mistake, you have compassion for yourself.
When you don’t want to do something, you say no.
You go after what you want and you’re willing to take risks to get it.
You’re willing to admit when you’re wrong and apologise accordingly.
You embrace all your feelings, even the ones you don’t like.
And here’s something that feels really liberating to do! Robbins suggests that if you’re serious about stepping up and being authentic, why not write a letter to the old you and tell them you’re moving on – a sort of break up letter to your old, less-than-real self. It can go something like this.
The Break-Up Letter – This is Where I Leave Me
(I’ve written my own specific parts of Robbin’s recommended letter in italics below. If you’re tired of playing small and hiding your true self from the world, write out this letter and substitute your own words in the italic sections!)
Dear Fake Me,
It wasn’t all bad. We had a good run. I know you were trying to protect me when you kept me from admitting that I wanted to break free from the life I had created for myself, that I wasn’t living in alignment with my heart and soul, and that I wanted to make radical changes in my life. And I know you were trying to protect me when you got me out of saying no to that voice in my head that really wanted to drop everything and follow my heart, which would have made life really uncomfortable. (Remember? We just quietly seethed inside instead. Good times!)
Plus, there were all those times we spent running around after other people, doing things we didn’t really want to be doing, to please others. And you stopped me from following my heart, by making sure I was too afraid. That’s what’s really held us together all this time, you know? Fear. Of being seen. Of being disliked. Of not being loved for who I am. Of not making my parents proud. Of not being seen as ‘successful’.
But now – and I hope you won’t take this personally – we’ve grown apart. Remember that time you said I couldn’t show my real self to the world? That’s it’s not safe to be me, fully, that’s it’s not safe to shine my light … even though I wanted to so much? I always thought you were looking out for me. But really, you were controlling me. I was too scared to tell the difference.
And now here we are.
We’re through. I’m ready to start speaking up. I’m ready to be the version of me that shares and shows what’s REALLY going on inside of me, that never says or does anything to try to appease others. I’m ready to stop being inauthentic and start being myself fully, brilliantly,as flawed as I am, in all my imperfect glory. I don’t want to keep my feelings bottled up when I’m with my family and friends, and when I feel as though someone will be uncomfortable with what I have to say, and every time someone tries to shame me.
But most of all, I plan never again to fake it – to pretend I’m somebody I am not, or to pretend I’m OK with superficial, inauthentic conversations when really I just want to be real, and for everybody else to be real.
You served a purpose in my life, but we want different things. It’s not you, it’s that you’re not me.
So take care of yourself, you won’t hear from me again.
THE REAL ME xxx
Wow – it feels so good to write that! I feel the power surging within me already. It feels amazing to take a stand for nothing less than becoming your true, authentic self.
So come on, let’s start with an intention to be real, genuine and unapologetically authentic. Are you in?
If you do a quick Google search on ‘toxic people’, the overwhelming advice you’ll find is to cut these people out of your life.
But that’s easier said than done in most cases, especially if these so-called ‘toxic’ people are family, colleagues or other people we live or work closely with. We’ve all been around those people who can leave us feeling drained or a bit ‘off’ after an encounter with them. Some people can leave us feeling agitated or annoyed or even just feeling really bad about ourselves.
The first thing to realise if you’re dealing with someone like this is:
Their behaviour towards you has nothing to do with you.
Psychotherapist and Life Coach Jodie Gale says “Often the person is deeply wounded and for whatever reason, they are not yet able to take responsibility for their wounding, their feelings, their needs and their subsequent problems in life” (click here to see the full article). So it’s not that these people are inherently toxic (no-one is inherently bad unless they’re a diagnosed sociopath) – they’re wounded. But the way they unconsciously act out their wounds towards others can be labeled ‘toxic’ because this behaviour can be hurtful and damaging to others.
‘Toxic’ people feel an unconscious need to bring others down to boost their own feelings of self-worth.
They’re usually completely unaware of their unconscious need to hurt others and ignorant of the fact that they do that because they don’t feel good about themselves. They will find ways to bring others down – intentionally or unintentionally – because it feels like the only way they can lift themselves ‘up’. And the effects on those around them can be damaging. Some of these people go to extraordinary lengths to hurt others as a way to make themselves feel better, which can be really painful if this person is a family member or someone who you thought was a ‘friend’.
The fact is these people don’t yet have enough self-awareness to take responsibility for their own negative feelings and unfulfilled needs, so they look to the outside to release their pent-up frustration.
If you happen to be the target of someone’s subversive, toxic behaviour, it’s quite likely that you trigger one of the following emotions in them.
Envy / Resentment / Bitterness
Perhaps you have or are something that they want to have or be. They may not even be aware of it; in their eyes you probably just ‘get their hackles up’, but underneath their irritation may be feelings of envy, resentment or bitterness that you have what they want but feel they can’t get.
You may threaten their position somehow. Perhaps they’ve worked hard to create feelings of safety and superiority (to cover up their feelings of inferiority), and you threaten this position in some way. If this is the case, they’ll need to hurt you to try to get you out of the way and to retain their sense of control.
Perhaps they feel you aren’t paying them enough attention, or aren’t making them feel special enough, which triggers their own feelings of unworthiness. So they might try to hurt you back to make themselves feel better (even though you probably weren’t aware you hurt them in the first place).
The fact is, whatever the dark feelings are that you trigger within the other person, it’s up to them to take responsibility for these feelings and to do the inner work to clear them.
You’re simply acting as a mirror, reflecting back to them where they’re wounded and unhappy.
We all know how painful and unpleasant it is when we’re the target of someone’s toxic behaviour. That’s why it’s so important that each and every one of us have the courage to face our own ‘shadows’. By shadows I mean the not-so-nice parts inside of us, the dark and the ugly parts, the parts we would rather deny, disown or push underground. If we don’t face these dark parts of ourselves, own them and do the work to transform them, our darkness ‘oozes’ out towards other people in the form of toxic behaviour. And since you know how awful it is to be on the receiving end of that behaviour, you don’t want to be one yourself!
Mark Matousek (Author of Sex, Death, Enlightenment) talks about seven ‘shadows’ that hide our inner light, obscuring our pure and original essence of love and compassion. We’re all born as pure love; we know this to be true when we’re with a baby. We all love babies because they’re pure and not yet been wounded by life. Here are the 7 Shadows explained below.
The 7 Shadows That Hide Our Natural Essence of Love and Compassion
Somehow in our childhood we’re all made to feel ashamed of something. I felt ashamed of my strawberry blonde hair as a child after someone called me a ‘carrot top’ in school. I was ashamed of the fact that I didn’t grow breasts until many years after my girlfriends did; and later I was ashamed of many of the reckless things I did in my teens when I was trying so hard to be cool and accepted. Many of us harbour shame but we don’t really know it.
When I first started seeing a therapist during a very difficult phase of my life many years ago, the first thing she said was “I can see you feel shame around many things”. My first reaction was “Shame? I don’t feel any shame”. But as she probed deeper, I started to cry as I realised just how much shame I had been holding onto. This was the first critical step in my own healing, to acknowledge my shame and to love and forgive myself for all these things I felt shame around – I’m only human after all. If you don’t recognise and release your own shame, it can unconsciously leak out onto others in the form of ‘toxic behaviours’.
We’re told from a young age that anger and rage are bad emotions. We’re told, “Don’t get angry, it’s not nice”. But in fact, anger is a very necessary emotion that tells us where we feel our boundaries have been violated. It’s telling us something important about ourselves. Perhaps it’s telling you that you need more privacy, or that you need to articulate your boundaries more clearly, or that you need people to respect your needs.
If you feel angry about something that’s happened to you, what is the anger caused by?
Usually, there’s grief or sadness underneath the anger.
If we were all taught to listen to and honour our anger as children, and to ask what it’s trying to tell us, the world would be a different place. We wouldn’t be ashamed of this valuable emotion and we would know how to process it properly.
“It’s humbling to admit our anger. It gets us off our self-righteousness, off our soapboxes, to admit I have anger, I have shame, I have rage, I have greed and the rest of it. It makes us human. It brings us into contact with the rest of the human race. Compassion is to feel with the suffering of a person. If we don’t accept our own suffering, we can’t possibly have compassion for the suffering of others.”
– Mark Matousek
Again, we’re told that we’re not supposed to feel envious, but instead appreciate what we have and be joyful for others. But again, envy is a helpful emotion that can teach us about what we really desire ourselves. If you feel envious of someone, it’s because they have something that you dearly want. Rather than become bitter and resentful towards that person, let it tell you where you desire things in your own life. And then take responsibility for creating those things in your own life. Envy is very useful for helping you understand how and where you want to improve things in your own life.
Greed is another ‘shadow’ emotion that can cause you to act out in toxic ways, if left unacknowledged. If you feel insatiable in some areas of your life, Mark suggests “Ask yourself, why do you feel like you’re not enough or like there is never enough? Where do you feel like there is not enough in your life? Why when you get what you think you wanted, are you not satisfied? Why is that? What is that?”
That’s greed. Don’t judge yourself for it. Just acknowledge it, because what that greed is telling you is that your desire cannot be satisfied if it’s coming from external things.
True satisfaction has to come from within.
Unless you’re coming from a position of wholeness and sufficiency within yourself, greed will always be active in your life.” True fulfillment comes from knowing yourself deeply, from clearing your wounds and learning to love and accept yourself. It also comes from orienting yourself in service to others; becoming someone who gives rather than just takes. To be able to receive in life, we must also learn how to give.
Most of us are afraid to even admit to feelings of lust. As Mark says, we’re terrified of lust because we believe that it’s stronger than we are, we’re scared of where it’s going to lead us. But if you can admit to your lust and try to understand what it’s telling you, you diffuse the power within it, and begin to see that it’s connected to passion, which is a wonderful, life-affirming power.
Mark says “Remember that passion is key to our own well-being and to our spiritual awakening. We need our passions. They’re part of what give our life meaning. It’s part of what gives us our humanity”.
All of the above emotions are connected to fear in some way – fear that we aren’t enough, fear that we won’t have enough, fear that we’ll be consumed by our dark emotions. So we push them underground where they become toxic. Ask yourself, where is fear holding you back? Where is fear preventing you from fully enjoying your life? What are you afraid of in desiring what you truly want? Acknowledging your fears and embracing them, rather than suppressing them, is the only way to diffuse their power and to move back towards love. As my therapist used to always say:
“We can only ever act from fear or love. Choose love”.
Another emotion that we often work hard to suppress is grief. Grief can be a beautiful thing if it isn’t pushed underground and subverted. It’s a precious emotion because as Mark says “it’s proof of your heart, it’s proof of your caring, and it’s proof of your compassion. The wound is proof of humanity”.
Inside most of our wounds, we find grief at some level. So ask yourself where you feel grief in your life. Where have you suppressed your grief so that it’s turned to sadness, bitterness or depression?
None of these 7 shadow emotions are ‘bad’. They become harmful when they’re denied, disowned or suppressed.
We all have these emotions; it’s part of the human experience. But instead of trying to push these bad feelings aside, we need to move towards them, embrace them, ask what they’re trying to tell us, and where we need to allow ourselves to heal. The more we try to ignore them and pretend they’re not there, the more they leak out unconsciously in toxic behaviours towards others, harming or hurting those we spend our lives with.
The next time you’re in a situation where someone has triggered a shadow emotion in you, pause for a moment and ask yourself “What is this emotion telling me”?
Which feeling has been triggered in you? Is there somewhere in your life you feel you need or want? Does this person trigger your own feelings of unworthiness? Where do you need to heal yourself so that you can feel more whole and peaceful?
It’s not easy navigating our own emotions. If you’re stuck in negative emotions triggered by someone else, reach out to someone who is trained to help in this area – a therapist, a coach or a healer. Heal the wounds that lie underneath your shadow emotions. Try not to lash out at others with your negative reactions. Otherwise, you run the risk of hurting others, perhaps someone you love.
You owe it to yourself, and to everyone in your life, to own your own shadow feelings, to process them and to take radical responsibility for creating your own happiness.
For many of us, Christmas and other festive celebrations can be a joyous occasion where we reunite with loved ones to celebrate, relax, unwind and enjoy each other’s company with good wine and good food in a relaxed atmosphere.
And yet for many of us, it can also be a time of dread and anxious anticipation about reuniting with certain family members with whom we have ‘strained’ relationships. We might have good intentions about staying positive and bright and to not let others knock us from our centre, but somehow in the presence of these family members, we find ourselves being triggered into all our old insecurities and behavioral patterns that we thought we’d left behind years ago. I guess that’s why the saying goes:
If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.
– Ram Dass
Very true. There’s nothing like a family reunion to show us where we have unhealed emotional pain.
Part of the challenge is that as family we can lock each other into boxes that no longer represent who we are and who we’ve become. The same old stories might get told over and over again (“When you were little you always ….[insert family story about how you were]…” – ugh). When those stories are still used as a definition of who we are, it feels restrictive and annoying because in reality we’ve moved on and grown so much since our childhood years. We’re not the same person we were back then.
And as family, we often ‘trigger’ each other into our old childhood wounds. At an unconscious level, we remember painful situations that occurred in the past, how a family member behaved towards us or how they made us feel, and those experiences are imprinted in our memories such that we can find it hard to perceive them now through a different lens. And the slightest thing can trigger us back into the original pain.
As a result of those past painful experiences, some of us ‘put up walls’ and create distance between each other as a means of protecting ourselves. We don’t want to put ourselves in the situation where we feel the same pain or bad feelings again, and as a consequence, we might find ourselves drifting further and further apart, to the point where we have only sporadic correspondence and know very little about each other’s lives. Then this emotional distance only makes the relationship even more difficult when we reunite.
In many cases, we experience ongoing patterns of bitterness, resentment, jealousy or judgment between different family members which makes the whole situation difficult to navigate.
It’s virtually impossible to have a light-hearted, flowing and joyful conversation when we have unresolved emotional pain standing in the way.
It’s different with family members with whom we share a close bond; those relationships in which we talk regularly, we share the details of our lives, the ups and the downs, we reach out to each other for support and advice and we connect with each other simply for the joy of it, for the love and connection it allows us to feel. As a result of this frequent and intimate contact we really knoweach other. Nothing we say or do can be misinterpreted because we know each other’s motivations and intentions.
Yet one encounter in a ‘strained’ family relationship can completely knock us off-centre, through a simple off-hand statement, joke or facial expression. This can immediately (and usually unconsciously) trigger us back into our old defence and behavior patterns, confirming the other person’s opinion that we’re still the same person we were at the time of past conflicts; in this way keeping each other locked in the old behaviours that led to the conflict in the first place.
The difficulty in strained family relationships is that at the time the original wound occurred in our relationship, we felt something fundamental about ourselves that was painful – perhaps “I’m unloved”, “I’m unworthy”, “I’m misunderstood” or “I’m a bad person”. Then we perceive all future encounters with this family member through this filter, being sensitive to anything that might trigger those old feelings of separation and unworthiness, making it hard to rise above the situation and remain neutral or unaffected.
It can be a vicious cycle that leaves us feeling frustrated, misunderstood and deeply sad that we can’t move beyond the old wounds to a new place of understanding and compassion for each other.
So how do we gracefully navigate these strained relationships, in a way that’s beneficial to both parties, giving each other the possibility to experience a new way of being together that is kinder, more open-hearted and forgiving?
Here are my three suggestions to try this Christmas.
1. Fill Yourself Up with Self-Love.
The only way someone else can make you feel bad about yourself is if they trigger your own feelings of unworthiness and separation. If you know in your heart that you’re beautiful, lovable, loving, and loved, then nothing can make you feel otherwise – not even an uncomfortable family encounter. We all need to find a way to love and accept ourselves as we are – fully and wholly, including all our lovable faults, idiosyncrasies and imperfections. Only once we’re able to love ourselves unconditionally and fully, can we become immune to the triggers in uncomfortable family relationships. Unconditional love of ourselves means that nothing that anyone says or does can make us feel bad about ourselves. This pulls us out of the old cycle of engagement that creates more conflict. It becomes like ‘water off a duck’s back’. I provide more help and insight on this in my blog article Peaceful Heart: 7 Steps to Cultivate Deep and Lasting Inner Peace.
Acceptance can take the pressure off the situation, making it easier for us to navigate the relationship. By acceptance, I mean accepting the fact that some relationships are as they are: difficult and challenging. And it’s OK not to have a perfect relationship with everyone in our family and life. We’re all different and we’re not going to have a close bond with everyone in our family. And perhaps it’s OK that some family members never understand or accept us. Perhaps they will never know us intimately or interpret our words or actions accurately, leaving us with the feeling that we can’t do or say anything right. Letting go of expectations that we will one day have a perfect relationship with this person might create space for a real opening and possibility for a new way of relating in the future if that’s part of our path together.
And shifting our own internal expectations of the relationship can shift the relationship itself. Acceptance also means letting go of judgment about the other person, which can be difficult, but it’s also critical for creating space for improvements in the relationship.
3. Allow Yourself to Feel the Pain, and When You’re Ready, in Time – Forgive.
I’ve always found forgiveness a tricky concept because too often we’re made to feel bad if we don’t forgive someone quickly and move on. But when I came across Colin Tipping’s process ‘Radical Forgiveness’, it shifted everything for me. I write all about Colin’s process in my article Struggling to Forgive? Try a Little Radical Forgiveness. Colin’s process explains that there are five steps that are necessary to move through the forgiveness process in a way that honors our own feelings, giving ample space and time to our feelings to allow ourselves the chance to heal and move forward.
Genuine forgiveness is only possible once you’ve allowed yourself to truly feel the deep pain you felt and to honour and validate those feelings.
It’s not healthy to ignore or attempt to sweep those painful emotions under the carpet. That will only lead to superficial ‘forgiveness’ and you may find yourself still harboring resentment and bitterness that continues to harm the relationship.
Colin’s process also introduces the suggestion that perhaps this strained relationship has appeared in your life to help you heal a certain part of yourself or to grow somehow. Colin has designed specificForgiveness Processes for healing rifts with siblings and parents which I can highly recommend (this is an ongoing process for me).
And finally, realise that you’re not alone with this. So many of us struggle with the pain of unresolved conflicts which all resurface at family reunions, often leaving us feeling disempowered and at a loss to know how to move forward so that we can look forward to these reunions with joy. If you have any success with the tips above please let me know, I’d love to hear! I’m with you on this one, working hard to make Christmas a more loving and joyful occasion.
In service to helping you live your fullest and brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
I’ve always felt a definite resistance to those who advise that the key to happiness and inner peace is to simply forgive all the people who have wronged or wounded you.
It sounds noble and virtuous and I’m sure all of us would love to be able to release our painful emotional wounds through forgiveness in a heartbeat. But it’s surprisingly difficult to do and feels somewhat like an emotional bypass when you try to sweep away your deep and painful feelings with a magic wand.
Simply trying to forgive others has often left me feeling worse despite my best intentions, when I feel the same old painful feelings of pain and anger arising, leaving me feeling like a ‘bad person’ because I’m unable to just forgive everything. After many years of working through my own layers of emotional pain, I think I now finally understand why it can be so difficult to ‘just forgive’.
Recently, I came across Colin Tipping’sRadical Forgivenessphilosophy, which summarises beautifully how we need to work through the forgiveness process in order to feel true, authentic and lasting forgiveness.
Radical Forgiveness is a five-step process to move through the different stages required to release yourself from your story of pain and hurt, and to move into a state where you’re able to see the bigger picture and even understand the value and gift that the situation has given you.
This requires a willingness to hold an open mind to new possibilities of viewing the situation, which may take time, patience and courage. But the rewards are beautiful and well worth it if you’re able to take the time to do this.
The 5 Steps of the Radical Forgiveness Process
Each of the five steps to the Radical Forgiveness process are critical, they need to be worked through in the right order and the process won’t work if you skip a step.
1. Tell the Story
It is important to have your story heard, witnessed and validated – and this is the first step in being able to let it go. Personally I have always found this step to be very healing when done with either a coach, therapist or good friend, however, you can also do this step using a Radical Forgiveness worksheet that Colin makes available on his website for free. It works just as effectively working through the worksheet to write out your story.
2. Feel the Feelings
For me, this had been the missing piece!
In order to be able to release and forgive someone, you first need to get inside and really feel every single emotion that wells inside of you when you recall the situation. As Colin rightly says:
“You cannot heal what you don’t feel. When people access their pain, this is the beginning of their healing”.
This is why the forgiveness process hadn’t worked too well for me in the past. Attempting to sweep away my negative pain and feelings under the mask of ‘forgiveness’ is skipping the most crucial element needed to heal: Feeling.
3. Collapse the Story
As Colin says “This is where you make a conscious choice to withdraw the energy you have given the story and begin to realise that the story is mostly your interpretation of events based on your limited perception of reality, and since there is more to it than meets the eye, it is largely an illusion”.
Yes! This has been key for me too, realising that there are so many angles from which to view a situation, and we have chosen only one; constructing our own story about how the other person wounded us and why. But what if there is the possibility that this is only our perspective, and there are actually other possible ways to view the situation?
4. Reframe the Story
This is a big one. Take a deep breath, and consider…. that maybe, just maybe, the situation was not a tragedy or cruel twist of nastiness on behalf of the other person, but rather it was exactly what we wanted (and needed) to experience for our personal growth and highest good – and in that sense, was absolutely perfect. Could it be so?
Can you feel the sense of lightness and peace that starts percolating inwards as you consider this possibility? This step has personally been an immense sense of comfort to me on my own journey – being able to view all my ‘woundings’ as beautiful, sacred events that have helped me evolve and become the person I am today.
Could your painful experience with this person have been a perfect sequence of events that you experienced to bring you closer to the person you long to be?
This means letting this possibility filter into your being, allowing it to reach you at a deep, cellular level, such that it can re-program your heart and mind and begin the true process of authentic, lasting forgiveness. This may take a moment, or it may take several weeks or months, but if you’ve worked through the steps, you will eventually experience the lightness and inner peace that true forgiveness brings. The beauty of this process is the way it allows you to reach in, touch and feel all the emotions you’ve been harboring inside over all the years. By leaning into your feelings and giving them space to be seen and heard, instead of trying to sweep them away with your magic wand, you open yourself to the possibility of healing and emotional release.
Opening your heart and mind to the possibility of viewing the situation differently allows you to release your story of victimhood and to see the higher purpose and gift in the wounding, in all its perfection.
So if you feel the burden of being unable to forgive someone, try a little radical forgiveness. And please let me know how you go, I would love to know!
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
The poor little thing was promptly put into a full body cast to give his femur the best chance of recovery. But it meant that he was bed-ridden and stuck in the same position for five long, whole weeks. At the age of only two years old, they were five looooong weeks. There were two positions he was able to lie in; either on his stomach with pillows propped under his chest, or on his back with pillows propped under his leg. And he needed us to turn him over each time he wanted to move from one side to the other.
For a little toddler who loved the joy of independence – he could run around by himself, play football, fly around on his scooter, feed himself, play with whichever toys he wanted when he wanted – this sudden reversion to complete dependence on us to do everything for him again, including moving and feeding him, was a big shock to his little system and abig frustration for his young little psyche.
Jack in hospital in his half-body cast to allow his broken femur to mend itself
How do you explain all of this to a toddler so that they understand what’s going on in a way that makes sense to them?
We were overwhelmed in the first week by all the support we received from our little community here in Korea. Our friends brought in home-cooked meals each night to the hospital, we had many visits from Jack’s little friends who brought along new toys, to Jack’s temporary delight. This buoyed our spirits and helped us get through that tough first week of shock and disbelief at the situation we were now confronted with.
And then the long recovery period set in.
Each day seemed eternal and was spent watching movies, playing with toys and gadgets, in between turning him from one side to the other. Nights were horrendous, the poor little thing couldn’t get comfortable and woke every two to three hours in discomfort from not being able to move and needing us to help ease his discomfort. My husband and I began to feel like parents with a newborn baby again, surviving in a haze of sleepless nights and stress.
My mantra became “This too shall pass”.
Each night I would collapse into bed and sigh with relief that we were one day closer to the end. We still received the occasional visits from friends, but as with all chronic, long-term illnesses or situations, people have to get back to their own busy lives and you’re left to wallow in your own miserable situation alone. I’ve experienced this before in life with losses; the high of friendship and support when something bad happens, and then the loneliness and desperation when everyone gets back to life while you’re still stuck with your suffocating grief, with nothing to do but endure it alone.
It was just Jack and I at home alone while my husband was at work, toughing it out together, crying and sometimes laughing together, like two mad hatters; riding the extreme emotional roller coaster that it was.
We had good days and bad days. And let’s face it, the bad days really sucked. Some days he would have an outburst of anger and frustration that could last up to an hour, desperately trying to release the negative emotion that had pent up in his little body. He would throw things and bite, hit things and scream with flailing arms and legs. The more I tried to comfort him the angrier he would get, so I would just sit next to him and cry myself, feeling completely powerless to help him, except try to explain again that he would be better soon and to let him know I was here for him. It was always a matter of letting him ride it out, express his anger and frustration, and be there for him to cuddle once he calmed down, which he always did, like a duck that’s shaken off the frustration after an angry encounter with another duck.
I learned a lot from his ability to rage and rant, express the furious emotion he was feeling, and then revert back to happy acceptance shortly after. Amazing.
It’s now seven weeks after the incident and he’s wearing a full leg splint now, the awful cast has been removed and his hips and other leg are now free, giving him some mobility again. His mood has improved out of sight since he’s been able to roll around on his own, crawl and even walk a little. His little face lights up with delight when he manages to stand up by himself, it makes our heart melt. He’ll be so happy when he’s able to walk again by himself. Each week at the check-up with the surgeon we secretly hope the surgeon will say he’s ready to walk freely again. And then at the sound of “perhaps one or two more weeks” my energy drops, I cry inside, and then I muster up the energy to get through another seemingly eternal week. With any luck, they’ll be able to remove the splint this week and he’ll be back to normal, with a little rehabilitation.
Here’s Jack finally in his full leg splint after 6 weeks in a half-body cast and unable to move #hooray
In the midst of all this, I was unable to do any work or any of the many things I’d planned before the incident. At first I resisted this enormously, trying to squeeze in a work module while he was watching a movie, even though I would be interrupted every five minutes when he wanted a cookie, or a different toy, or just to feel my presence and not my distracted half-presence.
Eventually, I had to give up hopes of achieving anything and surrender to the situation. I was being asked to let go and be with what is, as hard as that is for many of us.
When we get thrown a curve ball, we have to let go of the ideal goals or future we had in mind and accept the situation that’s right in front of us.
The easiest days in this past seven weeks have been those where I’ve surrendered to the day ahead and embraced the chaos. There were days where I screamed into my pillows myself and beat the hell out of them in sheer anger and frustration, or where I spent half the day in tears feeling so sad and powerless to make Jack feel any better. And then there were days where we both felt peace with the situation and even had fun together, laughing at silly videos or his dad’s funny evening dancing episodes. The more we embraced the chaos, the easier things seemed to be. Perhaps that was my lesson in all of this? Don’t fight it. Surrender and go with the flow, as undesired as that flow in life may sometimes be.
Is surrendering any easier? Not really. It’s tough and challenging too and frankly just sucks sometimes. But it’s also strangely liberating when we realise we can’t actually control any of this, so why bother?
As Elizabeth Gilbert says so well:
“If you can get some stuff done in the chaos sometimes, God bless you. If you can basically hold it together, propping yourself up with duct tape and glue, rock on. If you can manage to stay upright even one hour a day, you’re doing pretty great, as far as I’m concerned. And if you can be kind to the other stumbling fools around you half the time — well, that’s just heroic.”
Amen to that.
If you enjoyed this article, please leave a comment below or use the social media icons below to share!
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.
How do you keep an open heart, while also protecting your own well-being?
‘Healthy boundaries’ is a term I only became familiar with in my thirties. Becoming aware of the whole concept of boundaries was a revelation for me, particularly when I realised that all my years of struggle, exhaustion, and overwhelm had been because I didn’t know that I was allowed to – and supposed to – have boundaries.
I had always allowed the needs and desires of others to dictate my life.
Somewhere along the way I had learned that it wasn’t OK to put myself first; that it was more important to meet the expectations of others, and underneath all that… I felt that I was not worthy of putting my own needs first. I was so busy trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be that I actually didn’t even know what I wanted or needed – let alone have the courage to take a stand for that.
Needless to say, that wasn’t a joyful way to live.
For the past 5 – 10 years or so I’ve been learning, albeit slowly and at times not so successfully, how to set boundaries in my life.
Sometimes I’m really tuned in and I can take a stand for myself and my needs. And it feels great when I’m able to do that. To my surprise, those around me adjust quite easily when I’m able to communicate my boundaries effectively and lovingly. And it usually does them a favour too; it helps us all avoid situations that are likely to cause stress and tension when strong, clear boundaries are communicated and protected.
It feels empowering to set a boundary and have it respectfully met.
But there’s definitely an ‘art’ to setting and maintaining healthy boundaries and I’m still practising it. In recent years, I went on a holiday with extended family, and I experienced again what it’s like to let my boundaries be crossed and to lose control over my well-being because of it. There are some situations in life that we know are going to cause stress and tension. When we willingly put ourselves in those situations without clear and healthy boundaries, it’s guaranteed to cause trouble. My father calls those situations “putting your hand in the mincer”.
That’s what I did – again – ugh.
Why did I willingly put myself right in the middle of a tense and predictably difficult situation? I think because I had naively hoped that maybe this time things would be different; that maybe by now we’ve all moved on enough to be able to handle things differently.
But childhood wounds run deep.
Despite our best intentions to stay grounded and unaffected, certain family members can trigger us right back to our six-, ten,- or fifteen-year old self and before we know it, we’re behaving just as if we were that age again.
If you haven’t been able to work through past family or relationship conflicts through therapy or fair, open discussions with each other, there’s always going to be residual pain in the relationship, just below the surface.
Unless both parties have been able to work through the issues to the point where unconditional forgiveness is possible on both sides, the relationship will remain strained.
We need to try to understand what we can personally do differently and how we can be more effective at preventing stressful situations or conflicts in future. Perhaps there’s a difficult conversation you need to have to resolve an issue. Or maybe you need to work on your own preconceptions and judgements about other people and cultivate more loving acceptance within ourselves towards others.
And yet sometimes we just need to accept that no matter how much we wish and hope that certain relationships could be different, the reality is that the most difficult ones may never change.
We need to learn how to make peace with that and instead of always trying and wishing we could change things, the challenge instead is to learn how to manage these situations more effectively.
How do you know if your boundaries have been crossed?
Psychologist Dr. Dana Gionta says that you can recognize when your boundaries have been crossed by tuning into your feelings. There are two key feelings that are red flags or cues that you need to enforce more healthy boundaries:
If someone or a situation is causing you discomfort or feelings of resentment, ask yourself “What’s causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that’s bothering me?”
Dr. Gionta says “resentment usually comes from being taken advantage of or feeling unappreciated. It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits or because we feel guilty (we want to be a good daughter or wife, for example), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views, values or judgements on us.”
In all these cases, you’ve let the other person’s needs, expectations, views, and judgements interfere with your own values and priorities.
You Can Protect Your Boundaries by Checking Your ‘Personal Engine Light’
The way you feel around someone else can also be a big cue to strengthen your personal boundaries. Life coach Britt Bolnick says you should always “check your personal engine light” when you’re around different people. How does it feel in your body when you’re with someone? How does it feel in your mind? How does the presence of this person affect you? Imagine that your body is like a car, with a dashboard full of warning lights. You have your very own “check the engine” light for your personal boundary system. Your feelings are a security warning that your personal energy field has been breached, and you’re letting in stuff that isn’t yours. This is exactly what I unwillingly allowed during my family holiday. I was letting in all kinds of ‘stuff’ that wasn’t mine to take on. My personal boundaries were weak, unguarded or unclear, and I was giving away my personal energy unconsciously.
So How do You Set Stronger and More ‘Healthy’ Boundaries for Yourself?
Here are my five tips and strategies to help you protect your emotional well-being in difficult situations.
1. Know Your Limits
You can’t set healthy boundaries if you don’t know what your limits are. What is it that you need to protect yourself physically, emotionally and mentally? What is it that knocks you off-centre or leaves you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, resentful or just plain irritated? What are you able to accept and tolerate, and what are the things that make you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Remember, feelings of stress and discomfort help you identify what your limits are.
2. Make Self-Care Your Priority
By making self-care your priority, it means you’re giving yourself permission to put yourself first – the first critical step to setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. When you recognize the importance of your own feelings and honour them through prioritizing self-care, your need and motivation to set boundaries becomes stronger. Putting yourself first also gives you the positive frame of mind and inner peace to be more present with people when you’re with them. And we all know that when we’re feeling happy and balanced, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, colleague or friend. If I haven’t made the time to do my yoga or swimming workout, I can become quite the grumpy mum and wife!
Even though you know intellectually that people are not mind readers, you still often expect others to know what hurts you. But since it’s most likely that they don’t know, it’s important to find a way to communicate clearly and effectively what you need from any interaction or situation. Being up-front about your needs and expectations and being able to communicate them clearly means there’s much less room for stressful situations to arise.
In the past, I’ve sometimes been a little hurt by someone else’s assertiveness when fiercely protecting their own boundaries (and that was possibly because at the time I didn’t know that I was worthy of asserting my own boundaries). But afterwards I was often grateful for their assertiveness because when everyone’s expectations and needs are clear, it avoids all kinds of uncomfortable situations.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Communicating your boundaries assertively is a skill and takes lots of practice. I’ve been practising for years now and given my recent difficult experiences I realise I’m still far from getting this right. Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support. It’s a skill we all need to practice and master. But it’s worth taking on the challenge to change, because when you’re able to set up and maintain your own healthy boundaries well, it’s a great feeling, for you and others.
5. Ground and Protect Yourself as Preparation for Maintaining Boundaries
Grounding techniques can really help you maintain your boundaries. ‘Grounding’ is any kind of technique you use to nurture a loving connection with yourself and the space around you. Some techniques include visualising yourself growing long, deep roots into the ground, perhaps all the way down into the centre of the earth (I love this one). You can also use a grounding stone of some kind, such as black tourmaline or smokey quartz to help you ground your energy while you visualise yourself becoming deeply grounded.
When you’re grounded and centered, you don’t get so easily blown around in other people’s emotional storms.
It’s a way of intentionally connecting with your own core and intuition. It helps you stand your ground and stay centred around people who tend to knock you off centre.
Obviously it’s impossible to avoid all difficult situations entirely. But when you know you’re about to enter one, take a few minutes to ground yourself and then you could even imagine breathing a bubble of protective energy or light around you. Think of it as space that will only allow in love and positive energy and deflect anything else. Really see it and feel the force of it around you. This really works too if you believe it does.
FInd out what is that you need to stay centered and balanced. Know the things that maintain your sense of well-being and comfort and fiercely protect those things. Don’t let other people’s expectations or your own naïve hopes stand in the way. If you’re not sure whether a certain situation will ruffle you, take the safe route and build in measures to protect yourself anyway. This is not selfish or unkind – it’s essential to avoiding stress and tension for everyone involved.
So dig deep, have a chat with yourself and find out what you need to stay happy, balanced and grounded. And let me know if you have any breakthroughs in the comments below!
Are you living your truth? Discover how to live in alignment with your personal truth to experience greater levels of happiness in your FREE guide:
In my mid-thirties I was in a very dark place. Life felt heavy, overwhelming and hopeless. My heart ached constantly and every morning I struggled to get out of bed, tired of the continuous sadness, depletion, and exhaustion that plagued my life.
Nothing made sense and life seemed cruel and meaningless.
As I forced myself to put on a brave, smiling face every day to go to work and face the never-ending deadlines and meetings, inside I felt like I was dying. It was exhausting to put on this facade, day in, day out, to pretend that I was happy, coping and succeeding. While inside I was desperately sad and exhausted – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
As often happens when we’re in these dark places, I prayed for help; for some small sign that there was meaning to all of this, and a glimmer of hope that things would get better. Shortly after, an email landed in my inbox from the visionary thought leader Dr. Jean Houston. The email was about her upcoming course Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. To this day I still don’t know how I got onto her e-mail list. I didn’t know who she was or anything about the work she had been doing in the field of Human Potential. But somehow her email landed in my inbox and caught my attention. After years of feeling like I was on the wrong path and of asking myself “How did I end up here?”, Jean’s call to finally uncover my purpose felt like an absolutely essential and urgent thing for me to do. So in spite of my head telling me I didn’t have the time or money to do this course, my heart urged me to sign up immediately.
Jean Houston’s course – among other serendipitous things that happened soon after I sent out my S.O.S call to the universe – was the start of a slow but massive shift in my life. One of the key elements in her teachings is the power of story and myth to create meaning in our lives. One of the assignments we had to do as homework was to describe the story of our in lives in the context of the ‘Hero’s Journey’.
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of storytelling identified by the famous American scholar, Joseph Campbell, that weaves through many human stories, movies, drama, theatre, and myth. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.
Since becoming aware of this pattern of narrative in our storytelling, I’ve noticed it running through many films and stories in our entertainment world; the most famous and obvious ones being Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I now recognise it when I see it woven into children’s movies or stories when reading with my young boys.
When I was asked to write my life journey so far within the framework of The Hero’s Journey, I was skeptical at first about the significance that this task could have. But I dutifully sat down and started. I made up a fictional name for myself and started writing about my life in third-person, describing the key events and relationships I had been through. As I wrote about the different phases of my life, amazingly I began to see how my life has roughly followed this basic theme.
I can’t explain the uplift and joy I felt after recognising my life story within the archetypal pattern of the Hero’s Journey.
Suddenly my pain and suffering felt meaningful and a necessary part of my life’s journey to greater happiness and peace.
1. The Ordinary World You’re bumbling along in life, unconsciously reacting or responding to events, people, and situations. You’re blissfully ignorant of the limits of your societal conditioning and messaging that you’ve grown up with.
2. The Call to Adventure At some stage, you hear a ‘call to adventure’. You hear a whisper in your heart; a rising desire to do something that feels out of place. It doesn’t fit within the straight lines and boxes of your current existence. And yet it feels exciting and appealing.
“The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero.”
– Joseph Campbell
3. Refusal of the Call As exciting and appealing as the call sounds, you refuse it. It would be crazy to consider such a thing. You might get rejected by people. People will laugh at you. And anyway, you feel like you don’t have what it takes to do that. You wish the desire would go away. It’s irresponsible. It’s crazy.
4. Meeting with the Mentor And then you meet someone. They change your perspective and open your mind to new possibilities. They’ve answered the call themselves and they’re passionately living their truth. They inspire you to move closer to your own truth and to consider that maybe those desires you’ve been feeling aren’t so crazy after all? This person is a positive role model and their courage, faith, and strength rub off on you. After some time, the little voice inside your heart is getting louder and more urgent and finally, you decide you must cross the threshold. You can’t go on living in the ordinary world.
5. Crossing the Threshold
You summon all your courage, faith, and optimism and you step across the threshold. You’re so excited that you did it. It feels exhilarating.
6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
And yet it’s difficult – really hard. Surely it isn’t meant to be this difficult? You’re confronted with challenge after challenge and you start doubting whether you made the right decision. You discover enemies you didn’t know you had. Your faith is tested. You wonder if you should turn back. And yet you know you can’t. Thankfully, you find allies who support you and encourage you to keep going. You forge ahead.
7. Approaching the Cave
You can see a cave ahead of you with a beautiful treasure inside. You know that the treasure is the elixir that you have been seeking. But the entrance to the cave is guarded by fierce protectors who will not allow you to enter the cave easily.
8. The Ordeal
You must face a dangerous physical test or a deep inner crisis in order to survive or for your new world to continue to exist. Whether it be facing your greatest fear or your most deadly foe, you must now draw upon all of your skills and experiences gathered upon the path to the innermost cave, in order to overcome this most difficult challenge.
Only through some form of ‘death’ can you be reborn, experiencing a metaphorical resurrection that somehow grants you greater power or the insight necessary in order to fulfill your destiny, or to reach your journey’s end. This is the high-point of your journey where everything you hold dear is put on the line. If you fail, you will either die, or life as you know it will never be the same again.
9. The Reward (Seizing the Sword) Somehow you defeat the enemy, you survive death and finally overcome your greatest personal challenge. You are ultimately transformed into a new state, emerging from battle as a stronger person and perhaps with a prize.
The Reward may come in many forms: An object of great importance or power, a secret, greater knowledge or insight, or even reconciliation with a loved one or ally. Whatever the treasure, which may well facilitate your return to the Ordinary World, you must quickly put celebrations aside and prepare for the last leg of your journey.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
– Joseph Campbell
10. The Road Back
You must now return home with your reward but this time the anticipation of danger is replaced with that of acclaim and perhaps vindication, absolution, or even exoneration.
But the Hero’s journey is not yet over and you may still need one last push back into the Ordinary World. The moment before you commit to the last stage of your journey, there may be a moment in which you must choose between your own personal objective and that of a Higher Cause.
10. The Resurrection This is the climax in which you have your final and most dangerous encounter with death. The final battle also represents something far greater than your own existence, with its outcome having far-reaching consequences to your Ordinary World and the lives of those you left behind.
If you fail, others will suffer and this places more weight upon your shoulders and fills you with fear and trepidation. This is more than just about you. This is about a higher service. Ultimately you succeed, you destroy your enemy and you emerge from the battle cleansed and reborn.
11. Return with the Elixir In this final stage of the Hero’s journey, you return home to your Ordinary World a changed person. You have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death, but you now look forward to the start of a new life. Your return may bring fresh hope to those you left behind, perhaps a direct solution to their problems or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
The final reward that you obtain may be literal or metaphoric. It could be a cause for celebration, self-realization or an end to strife, but whatever it is it represents three things: Change, success, and resurrection of some kind. The return home also signals the need for resolution for the story’s other key players. Your doubters will be reprimanded or forgiven, your enemies punished and your allies rewarded.
Ultimately, as the Hero, you will return to where you started but things will clearly never be the same again.
“If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential. You must follow your bliss.”
– Joseph Campbell
By choosing to answer my own personal call and to step across the threshold over the past 5-10 years, I’m now on my way to ‘returning with the elixir’, tapping into the joy, flow, and abundance that comes to us naturally when we align with our heart and soul.
The road hasn’t been easy and I’ve been tested and tried, as the journey says we will be, but it’s the only road that makes sense to me now. Going back is not an option.
Sometimes my inner skeptic tells me the Hero’s Journey is just something we tell ourselves to help ourselves feel better. And then I think – so what? If we find meaning, comfort, strength, and motivation by seeing ourselves within this context, as the Hero within our own lives, surviving trials and tribulations on our path to finding the treasure, then isn’t that great? And isn’t that all that really matters?
I hope you find comfort in realizing your own life journey within the context of the Hero’s Journey. And may you slay your dragons, undergo your personal transformation and return with your very own elixir!
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
There are so many great articles and resources available these days about ‘self-care’.
But sometimes our bodies and minds crave an even deeper level of care, which I refer to as ‘soul-care’.
Self-care strategies are wonderful and absolutely necessary to stop us from getting out of balance, stressed and unwell. Things like establishing a morning routine, scheduling days off or time out, journalling, and getting plenty of sleep are things we all need reminding about.
But I’ve been through some pretty heavy periods of extreme overwhelm in my life, and self-care strategies weren’t enough.
I desperately needed soul-care.
In this article today, I’m sharing strategies that I wish I’d known about back when I was in the middle of my challenging, dark years.
A little backstory so you understand where I’m coming from …
When I was in my twenties I suffered from a mystery illness that could only be explained by medical doctors as ‘chronic fatigue’. The doctors told me it was “all in your head” when blood tests appeared to show that everything was normal.
But I knew there was something seriously wrong. It started out as a very heavy fatigue and gradually turned into a living hell as I became overtaken by numerous viruses and infections.
I tried countless therapies and healing techniques while spending all my time (and money) going from one doctor, healer or therapist to another. Nothing seemed to help.
I managed to hold down my intense job as a Consulting Engineer through this whole period, but every day I would wake up feeling drained, ill and exhausted before the day even started. It was awful.
It wasn’t until someone suggested I go to the Tara Health Centre in Perth (Australia), where I was living at the time, that I was finally able to get the support I needed. Thanks to their cutting-edge, all natural diagnostic techniques and treatment methodologies, they were able to help me recover my energy and vitality in less than a year.
During the treatment process, it became apparent that I was under high levels of emotional stress.
As you probably know, emotional stress can have a profound impact on our health and well-being.
I was fortunate to find great therapists who told me that I needed to find ways to soothe and nourish myself emotionally, to support my physical recovery.
Up until that point, I’d never prioritised my own emotional well-being. Aside from doing regular yoga and meditation, I’d spent my years partying hard, studying hard and working hard trying to establish myself in the professional world and keep up my social life. I’d been stuck in a perpetual cycle of over-achievement, people-pleasing and self-neglect, all trying to seek the approval and validation that I so desperately craved.
There had been no time to seriously consider the needs of my soul.
But I now see clearly that that’s precisely why I developed the chronic fatigue in the first place.
I made a commitment to begin nurturing my soul and emotional well-being, and with time I started to really feel and appreciate the deep connection and interdependence between my emotional well-being and my physical health.
I’m passionate about helping you to find ways to nurture your emotional well-being so you can thrive, physically and emotionally.
One fantastic method that has profound positive impacts on your emotional well-being is The Healing Code, which I share in another blog article called The Healing Code: How to Reclaim Your Health & Well-Being in 3 Powerful Steps. I recommend having a read through this article to learn how you can heal illness and emotional pain using Dr. Alex Loyd’s simple yet very powerful process. It’s a technique I revert to time and time again when I experience illness or an emotionally painful situation.
More recently I came across Anthony William’s book Medical Medium, which describes ten beautiful ways for coming to a place of deep rest, connection, and nourishment, to enhance and maintain your emotional well-being. William is a medical psychic who has devoted his life to helping people overcome illness and disease, was four years old when he shocked his family by announcing at the dinner table that his symptom-free grandmother had lung cancer. Medical testing soon confirmed the diagnosis. Anthony is now the go-to healer for well-known people such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, and Christiane Northrup. Several of the techniques he describes in his book were new for me and I hope they provide you with some new ideas and inspiration to bring some more soul nourishment into your own life, as they have for me.
With all the focus and attention on the benefits of meditation these days, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that meditation is first on Anthony’s list of methods to soothe your soul. You might be familiar with traditional forms of meditation, which involve sitting quietly and choosing a single thing to focus on, perhaps a mantra or a lit candle, or a recorded voice that guides your thoughts. In all cases, the intention is to quiet the ‘monkey mind’ that’s caught up in endless thoughts, to reach a state of stillness and to be able to access the intuitive guidance available underneath.
I like to think of it as being like a big lake that’s stirred up by river streams (thoughts) pouring in and out. When you stop the turbulence by stopping the flow of water in and out of the river, and allow your thoughts to become still, suddenly the water becomes quiet, the sediment starts to settle to the bottom and the water on top becomes crystal clear.
These moments of stillness and clarity have profound positive effects on your body, mind and soul.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to get to a beach regularly, according to Anthony “it’s possible to maintain a superior meditative state of healing by watching the waves on a beach – if you know how to tap into them.” Anthony says he’s seen countless clients heal themselves of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), pain and suffering using the following technique: As you sit, stand or walk on the beach, envision every wave as a surge of soul-cleansing energy. When a wave comes in, imagine it bathing any pain and scrubbing loose any damaging emotions or thoughts. As the wave recedes, watch it take away all those impurities. With each new wave, let yourself be cleansed of poisonous memories, injuries from past lives and stains on the soul. See them all wash out to sea. When you feel purified, let each new wave bring strength and renewal to your spirit and soul.
3. Surrounded by Trees
Getting out in nature is of course very healing in itself, but for the most healing and soothing effect on your soul, Anthony suggests taking a moment to appreciate the peaceful environment around you and to pay special attention to the trees. Turn your mind to their root systems. Think about the minerals and water they’re drawing from deep within the earth, up through their trunks, up through their branches. As you let yourself feel surrounded by this deep earth energy, envision roots growing out of your feet and into Mother Earth’s soil, down into the centre of the earth.
Something I like to add (thanks to a technique taught by Amy Oscar) is to imagine my energy merging with the molten core of the Earth, and then receiving her energy back up through the soles of my feet. This is a beautifully grounding experience. When you intuitively feel it’s time to end the grounding, imagine that you’re leaving your roots protected and preserved in the earth as you break free and walk away. These roots remain a part of you. Wherever you are, transcending time and space, you can draw healing energy from the earth when you need it.
I do a grounding technique each and every morning called Connecting Heaven and Earth by Donna Eden, which is another great way to begin the day feeling fully grounded and in your body. It’s also incredibly soothing for the soul. Grounding techniques fortify every aspect of your being. They strengthen your root chakra which reinforces your will to survive, invigorate your spirit to receive positivity and ward off negativity, and create a strengthening frequency for body and soul.
4. Free as a Bird
As Anthony explains, bird-watching is a healing and soothing activity simply because it takes you into nature and into a state of presence and mindfulness. When you truly focus on seeing and hearing the birds, you elevate it to a very enlightening meditative experience. Birdsong, Anthony says, is the most sacred form of music; it mends a fractured soul and can reverse disease. Apparently, this is because the frequency of these melodies resonates deep within your DNA, allowing it to reconstruct the body on a cellular level. If you listen to birds with respect and appreciation, your life will begin to transform. Observing birds is powerful too. Anthony says that here on Earth our souls can feel caged and our spirits suppressed. When we witness a bird’s freedom in flight, it “ignites and unleashes the spirit and breaks the cage of the soul.”
5. Bee Watching
Bee watching is a secretly miraculous meditation according to Anthony. As bees dance from flower to flower, absorbing the sun and distributing pollen along the way, they emit a healing frequency that reverses disease and promotes soul and emotional restoration. This is something we can’t understand on a rational level, but our cells understand. When you make yourself aware of the bees and ask your body to tune its channels to their frequency, all of the cells in your body will start to resonate with this healing vibration.
6. Collecting Stones
When you want to cleanse yourself of negative emotions, Anthony suggests taking a walk in nature and keep your eye out for small stones that call to you. Over the course of your stroll, select three that feel good to hold in your hands. Name each stone by the label of whatever feeling you’re harboring that you’d like to leave you. For example, you might name the stones Guilt, Fear or Anger. Anthony suggests that you keep the stones on your bedside table. Develop a relationship with them; become friends.
The healing frequency of the minerals will act as an antidote to whatever ails you, whether emotional, spiritual or physical. When the time comes that you feel the stones have done their job and you’re ready to let them go, carry them back to nature and release them into a body of water such as a pond, ocean or lake, river or stream. The living water will purify them of the venom they’ve drawn from you, and you’ll walk away purified too.
Anthony suggests that it will be centuries before scientists discover all of the healing benefits that the sun provides. Not only is it calming and warming, but “the sun’s rays contain mystery elements and promote biochemical reactions in our bodies that produce more than just Vitamin D”. No wonder I can feel so miserable in cold climates if I haven’t seen the sun properly for months! He says just look at pets and how they instinctively find a warm, sunlit patch on the floor to bask in. All animals love to sunbathe; they know it’s a powerful healing tool. Anthony suggests spending time each day to allow your skin to absorb sunlight, if possible. He suggests acclimatising to 15 minutes a day, taking care not to get sunburned. If it’s a cold time of the year, find a peaceful spot where the sun comes through a window. He says to make the meditation most powerful, call upon the Angel of the Sun to help the rays enter into your being to soothe your soul and heal your body.
8. Picking Fruit
Picking fruit, Anthony says, is one of the most powerful meditations in existence. He says it is a sacred act of respect and gratitude to Mother Earth for the miracle of food. Even if you only do it once in your lifetime, it will be an experience you can reignite over and over, just by thought, to activate the healing in your soul. Anthony explains how each piece of fruit on a tree is living food that’s connected, via the plant’s roots, to living water deep within the earth. When you touch the fruit, your cells will resonate with the fruit’s grounded nature, spreading peace throughout your body. On top of that, fruit picking forces you to stretch as you reach for the fruit. These natural stretches apparently supersede any human created exercises.
On the topic of stretches, I adore Donna Eden’s 5 minute Morning Energy Routine, which is a series of delicious stretching exercises that wake up, energise, heal and harmonise the body. This is another one I do religiously every morning because it feels so good and my health feels so much more resilient when I remember to do it. Picking berries or wildflowers has the same effect as picking fruit, apparently. Since humans have existed on the planet, berry picking has been a celebration of abundance. When we follow this millennia-old tradition, it ignites the ancient celebration of life within our soul and promotes healing. As you pick the fruit, meditate on all the months of development that led to this moment. First the plant started as a seed and grew to fruiting size. When it reached maturity, it didn’t start bearing fruit every month of the year; rather, it developed with the seasons. Our lives go through similar cycles. When we take the time to focus on nature’s rhythms, we activate trust and faith within our souls that our efforts to live a good life will be fruitful.
Picking berries or wildflowers has the same effect as picking fruit, apparently. Since humans have existed on the planet, berry picking has been a celebration of abundance. When we follow this millennia-old tradition, it ignites the ancient celebration of life within our soul and promotes healing. As you pick the fruit, meditate on all the months of development that led to this moment. First the plant started as a seed and grew to fruiting size. When it reached maturity, it didn’t start bearing fruit every month of the year; rather, it developed with the seasons. Our lives go through similar cycles. When we take the time to focus on nature’s rhythms, we activate trust and faith within our souls that our efforts to live a good life will be fruitful.
9. Watching Your Garden Grow
think most of us these days have heard about the therapeutic effects of tending to a garden. Anthony says “Getting your hands in the dirt for the sake of growing new life grounds your body, strengthens your spirit and rejuvenates your soul. Further, the soil carries the soul of Mother Earth. Getting (literally) in touch with that puts you in sync with divine natural rhythms.” As you garden, you’re also absorbing the sounds of nature and if you pay attention, you can observe the chirps of the birds, the buzzing of the bees and the wind rustling in the trees. Weeding can have a profound effect too, Anthony says, if you envision each weed as an ill thought, negative emotion or painful memory. When you pull it out, you’re “simultaneously removing it from your soul and mind, making room for more abundance in your life.”
10. Gaze Beyond the Stars
Anthony suggests that to reclaim your soul, you can spend time each night gazing up at the sky. “First get familiar with the stars; your soul has a direct telepathic connection to them. Let their light and the wonder of their existence resonate for a few moments. Then shift your focus to beyond the stars. Envision that your home lies way up there, in a place free from suffering. Tell yourself, This is a home I belong to, and will someday warmly return to… You can stargaze for just three minutes a night and find that your soul rejuvenates in dazzling ways.”
When reading Anthony’s suggestions, I realised that in many ways he’s suggesting we return to the ways of our ancestors and indigenous people, who naturally honour and respect nature’s rhythms. They intuitively know that the way to a happy and healthy life is to live in sync with, and pay respect to, nature. They live in a state of wonder and awe at the intelligence of nature and all natural systems. In Australia in the 1980s, the government rolled out a scheme to provide housing for our indigenous Aboriginal people. They were outraged when the Aborigines would remove the mattresses from the houses to sleep out on the street. From the Aborigine’s point of view, they needed to be connected with nature and the stars while they slept and couldn’t understand why we would want to sleep inside.
Somewhere along the way in our modern mode of living we’ve grown disconnected from this sacred connection to nature. This could easily help explain why so many people today suffer from depression and chronic disease.
So please enjoy these techniques for reconnecting and re-tuning yourself to nature, to soothe and nourish your soul. I’ll definitely be trying to implement more of these in my life myself these coming months. Please let me know if you feel any difference or improvement in your mood, health or vitality, I love hearing from you!
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Fempire Coach for Thriving Female Entrepreneurs firstname.lastname@example.org
This question has fascinated me ever since a recent epiphany I had on this very topic. I realised suddenly that so many years of struggle and pain I had endured were because I had been living an inauthentic life. It was Katherine Woodward Thomas who came up with these words during one of her coaching calls and they were a true ‘ah-ha!’ moment for me. It was cathartic to finally find the words to name the reason for all my struggles and to see clearly in how many ways I had been inauthentic to my heart throughout the course of my life.
I’ve since been on a rampant search for my own true, authentic voice. Who am I really? What do I really want? What does it mean for me to beauthentic?
We receive so many messages when we’re young. So many messages that are not necessarily true for us, yet we take them on as if they are, because who are we to know? We’re young and parents and teachers know better, they’ve experienced the world. Of course, the messages we receive are radically different depending on our cultural background, our gender, our parents’ social class etc. And how we react to them also depends on our own individual personality.
In my case, a middle class white family in suburban Australia, I received messages like: You’re a good girl if you do this, you’ll get far if you do this, you have to work hard and struggle to get anywhere but it’s worth it, success takes sacrifice, education is the most important thing in the world, particularly science & engineering as those fields will always have jobs, corporate careers are the way to make money, we have to sacrifice what we love to do what is best, financial security is paramount, creative talents are for hobbies, not a real career, there is no money in the arts, humanities studies are not real studies, you will never make money as a linguist, you are loved and valued for what you can achieve… . As an impressionable young girl, desperately wanting my parents’ love and approval, I took these messages seriously.
I ignored the whisperings of my heart, telling me…
You love writing, you love languages, you love creative expression, you love people, community and connection, you love stories, you love dancing. Because the messages I received allowed no room for these whispers. They simply didn’t fit in my world of parental expectations. I was fortunate that I did not ignore every whispering I received from my heart. I’m blessed with quite a stubborn, rebellious and adventurous spirit that urged me to spend 12 months in rural Paraguay (South America) as a cultural exchange student, which was a life-altering and heart-opening experience, and to take 12 months off university after my second year to backpack and work my way around Europe. I learned the art of living off the lowest wages, of doing any job that came up to cover the next train ticket, of feeling at home in all kinds of squalid accommodation, befriending people from all walks of life and all different countries and lifestyles.
Each of these experiences cracked me open in some delightful way, allowed the light to flow into my heart and reach the furthest corners where my true essence was lying there waiting for me to tap into it. I discovered my love for people of all cultures, all races, all backgrounds, a deep compassion for those born and raised into poverty and difficult circumstances, a deep compassion for the planet and all the damage we are inflicting upon it, a deep joy of connecting with other human beings and listening to their stories.
But somehow the childhood messages were deeply ingrained.
I remember the exact moment at which I made the decision to ‘sacrifice’ my heart’s joy for the noble good of earning a decent living and setting up a financially secure future. I was sitting in a plane on the way back from Argentina, having travelled there over the university holidays on money earned from working three part-time jobs (yes I had a tendency to burn the candle at both ends) and savoring the delicious experience I had just had. My heart opens in an indescribable way in South America, there’s something about the way they value family, fun, community, and dancing above all else, and live a seemingly uncomplicated and joyful life. At that moment I was on my way back to finish my final year of university, which I knew would be tough, and I knew I would have to do postgraduate degrees after the basic degree to find a good job in my particular field.
If I’d had the courage to put aside my childhood conditioning when deciding what to study at university, I would have chosen to study languages without a doubt. Learning and speaking other languages brings me so much joy, I absorb them quickly and easily, with almost no effort. Wouldn’t that be a sign of your heart’s purpose, if something feels so joyful and effortless?
But my childhood conditioning and parent’s advice urged me to pursue a career in science & engineering, given the increased job opportunities I would have. In that moment sitting in the plane, coming back from my overseas holiday, I knew the fun times were over. From now on it would be hard work, sacrifice, and time to build that much coveted financially secure future…. my heart sank and I knew I was making a choice that was perhaps not authentically me. But what choice did I have? A financially insecure future was no option in my mind of beliefs. I knew that a secure future would require sacrifice, hard work, sweat, and tears, right?
And so I embarked on the journey of being an inauthentic version of myself
…seeking financial security, job opportunities and deep down, my parent’s approval. I knuckled down and finished my degree with Honours, then on to completing my Doctorate (self-sacrifice is honorable right? And we’re seen and loved for our achievements right?). This is where I started unraveling at the seams. While I was passionate about my chosen field, the whole field was simply not in my zone of genius. I’m a creative soul, a linguist, a humanitarian. So why on earth was I doing science & engineering? The work was tough and difficult, I had to work long hours to keep up with the demands, it didn’t come naturally to me yet I was determined to do well. There was no room for failure. My health plummeted; I was drained, depleted and completely exhausted. Yet I had to achieve and do well, after all that was how I would be seen and loved. I was chasing that elusive abundant financial future and job security. I was chasing love and approval.
Childhood conditioning runs deep.
As I moved from university into the corporate world, I was finally able to enjoy my first decent income. So it was all worth it right? I had a great permanent work contract with a great company, I had interesting and challenging projects. I’d made it. I was secure. I consistently ignored the signs of my inner wisdom. I over-rode them. I was getting more and more tired, my brain was becoming foggy, my attention span was dwindling. I was tired, always tired. Physical symptoms started manifesting, indigestion problems, sleep problems, and finally an acute over-active thyroid that caused me insomnia and a loss of 10 kg within one month. You would think this sign would get my attention that something in my current life was not right, right? Well, not really.
I read Louise Hay’s book on the spiritual causes of physical illnesses. The spiritual cause behind an over-active thyroid was ‘when would it be my turn?’ This was absolutely what I was thinking. When I looked around me, I saw all my friends enjoying life, with active social lives, budding careers, travelling, starting families. While I was stuck in pursuing a difficult career that had wonderful career prospects and financial security, but with my physical body that was falling apart and a mind that was in torture but had no idea how to escape it. There was no room for changing my career path. I had invested so much in this path, I’d given everything, my blood, sweat, and tears — literally. My partner and I had bought a house and we were financially stuck. We needed my income. There was no room to take time out. I hadn’t earned enough sick leave at this early stage of my career to take time off.
I had chosen this path and I had to make it work.
As ways to survive I delved into yoga and meditation that helped greatly. I read spiritual teachings, hoping to discover my true life purpose and how to live it. I rested as much as I could. I got help through acupuncture and bio-resonance to alleviate my physical symptoms. I maintained a semi-decent social life. On the surface, things looked pretty good. My career was flourishing, I had been invited to be a Shareholder of my company and I was holding down senior management positions. I was facilitating workshops, attending conferences and presenting well-received papers. This was everything I had always wanted, wasn’t it? So why was I still always so tired? And why did I feel so empty? Something was missing. Something big was missing. I wasn’t getting my gifts into the world. I didn’t feel as though I was making an impact, my soul was under-fed and under-nourished in every possible way.
And at a deep soul level, I was simply exhausted.
I believe the Universe never stops giving us gentle nudges in the direction we need to be going to live our purpose. I had ignored my gentle nudges for so long that they were eventually turning into sledgehammers. The final wakeup call came when my husband and I wanted to start our family. We went through two devastating miscarriages within a 12 month period. For the first time in my life I actually thought I could no longer go on. I entertained thoughts of leaving this world. Nothing could explain the deep, gut-wrenching pain and sadness I experienced every waking moment. I had always wanted to be a mother. I couldn’t understand why the Universe was making me endure this, after all the suffering I had been through continuously since my early twenties, with the constant fatigue and physical symptoms, why this on top of that? Hadn’t I suffered enough?
But fortunately, the Universe knows the game plan. Somehow it knew that this was the only way to wake me up from the deep illusion I had dug myself into.
It didn’t work after one miscarriage. I went straight back to work and into the same old routines and behaviours as before. Over-doing everything. Over-achieving in everything, as a way to prove my worth and that I was good enough. It took a second miscarriage to shake me up sufficiently such that I would walk into the office the next day and request 3 months off work. I handed over my job and went home to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. For the first time in my life, I was choosing for me and my needs. What an amazing feeling. At the age of 35 I realised I had never done this before, put my own needs first, I had always been trying to please others, live up to others’ expectations of me. It was during this time, away from the grind of corporate office life, sipping coffee at the beach one morning, that I had an epiphany.
I had a choice.
I could continue this life of chasing love and approval through things that do not feed me spiritually and emotionally. Or I could choose to leave that life behind and find the path that is authentically me.
I didn’t take this decision lightly, given how much I had invested in my career to date, but once the thought had entered my head that there was another way, there was no going back. It felt like a tonne of bricks had been lifted from my shoulders. It felt like the light was seeping in under the veil of illusion that had kept me separated from my authentic self. I felt my heart fill with joy. It felt like the Angels were rejoicing and celebrating that I had finally heeded their call.
It’s been two and a half years since I left my corporate career and finally became a mother, to our absolute delight. We were given the amazing opportunity to embark on overseas postings through my husband’s work, which has given me time and space to dig deep and discover my true passion and calling (does the Universe suddenly support us in every way after we’ve woken up to the call to find our authentic self?). After much reflection, I decided to study remotely to become a Life Coach and to focus on writing. Through coaching I am finally following my heart’s passion, connecting with people, listening to their stories, helping them find their own authentic self. I cannot explain the synchronicity that has followed me since I made the decision to be true to my heart and soul, doors opening at exactly the right time, my health improving out of sight, my energy levels soaring, meeting the right people at the right time, being guided to the right books, the right teachers and the right clients at the right time.
I cannot explain the synchronicity that has followed me since I made the decision to be true to my heart and soul…
… doors opening at exactly the right time, my health improving out of sight, my energy levels soaring, meeting the right people at the right time, being guided to the right books, the right teachers and the right clients at the right time.
How did my friends and family react to my decision to leave my old career behind and follow my heart? Initially with shock and disbelief (I had many people openly laugh at my decision), followed by understanding and compassion, and these days with admiration and respect. People are realising more and more that the only path to real, authentic joy, is to be our real, authentic selves. There is something that happens when we dare to connect with what is authentic and true in our own heart. In my case, I feel like I’m finally tapping into the Universal power, opportunities miraculously open up, synchronicities abound, I feel I am flowing with the river instead of swimming upstream and I feel a deep sense of relief, joy and clarity that I had never felt before. I wake up excited about the new day ahead and uplifted by the positive contribution I can make through my own unique gifts and talents.
To me, this is what it means to be authentic. My heart and soul feel alive and connected to all of humanity, I feel aligned, I feel infinite gratitude and deep inner happiness, and most importantly, I finally feel free. I don’t believe there can be anything more beautiful than being able to joyfully serve others, in a way that feels authentic to our hearts. I think we pay a high price for being inauthentic.
It’s as though the Universe is programmed to increase our pain and struggle exponentially the further we get away from our true, authentic self.
So I wonder, how do we help each other to find our own authentic selves? In their hearts, our parents had the very best intentions for us as children. It isn’t their fault they embedded messages into our belief systems that encouraged us into directions that may not be our authentic path to follow. They grew up in difficult times when financial security was the only thing that mattered. It was still about survival, not self-actualisation. And I don’t want to paint a bad picture of my parents; they were very loving, very supportive and simply wanted the best future for us. I wonder how many of their generation and all the thousands of generations before were able to be their authentic selves? How many people actually had a choice? I dare to think not many. The fortunate few who were able to be authentic to their heart and soul were the lucky minority. We are so fortunate that we’re now entering a time of prosperity, of increased choices and opportunities to explore deeply how we can earn a living doing what we do well and what we love. Times have changed.
I am now 100% committed to helping others find their own authentic voice. I’m passionate about helping people experience that degree of freedom and joy that comes when we take the time to slow down and listen to those whispers in our heart that lead us back to our authentic self.
It has to be acknowledged that the path of our authentic self is not always easy. We are still challenged with many things we need to learn along the way, it can be difficult creating a secure financial base and livelihood from doing what we love. It takes courage to escape the confines of our secure jobs that provide for all of our needs except perhaps our spiritual and emotional ones. We have responsibilities in life and commitments, it is not always possible to take that leap of faith when we want to. But I do truly believe that once we make the commitment to find our authentic self and to courageously take steps in that direction, we suddenly find unlimited support and opportunities opening up to help us, the support of the Universe is suddenly up underneath us and limitations we thought we had dissolve or go away. Miraculous things can happen when we decide to ‘go for it’, all the way. Just as it seems pain and struggle increase the further away we get from our authentic selves, in reverse, joy and ease seem to increase the closer we get to being our authentic selves.
So what would I recommend we do in our quest for finding and being our authentic self?
Number one, we need to listen to our hearts. Stop, slow down, take time out, get quiet, and listen. I know we lead busy lives, I know we think there isn’t always time. But once we make the commitment to be true to ourselves, we find we can make time, and suddenly and miraculously we find our access to time increases. The whisperings are there in our heart, just waiting to be heard. We need to ask ourselves, what do I love doing? What kind of person do I love being? Within those things we love doing lie hidden the treasures of our own specific, unique gifts that we uniquely have to bless the world. The world desperately needs our specific gifts because no one else can give them except us. If we don’t nurture and contribute them in service, we and the world will have missed out on our biggest blessing and the Universe will mourn that loss. The heart cannot give false advice, it always leads to growth and expansion, to service in joy and a profound blessing to our soul and the world. So we just need to get quiet and listen.
Of course, we encounter obstacles along the way, those false nagging beliefs that tell us we can’t do that, or we’re not good enough to do this… we are all slaves to our internal beliefs. But these beliefs can be overcome through gentle and deep belief work that remove the obstacles we have created in our minds. We might come up against unforeseen challenges that make us feel we’re on the wrong path after all. However, I believe the Universe continues to provide us the challenges we need to grow, strengthen and evolve the skills we need to be doing the work we want to do. Being authentic requires growth and expansion, healing and love. It is not a journey for the faint-hearted, but it is one that is guaranteed to bring us back to our soul, where all that is joyful and wonderful in this life resides.
Time is short, don’t waste another day – you CAN make a difference and earn great money, doing what you love. Find out how in my E-Book PATHFINDING.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
Kate De Jong is an expert Fempire Coach, blogger and inspirer who intimately understands (and shares) what it is like to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship, whilst staying sane and enjoying the freedom and fulfilment of being a successful coach and fempreneur.