Last week I had the opportunity to present to a large group of women at a local school about “Wholehearted Living – the journey to emotional freedom”.
This is part of the invitation that went out:
“It’s not uncommon for women to project an “everything is fine” persona to the world whilst feeling overwhelmed and less than fulfilled on the inside. Limiting beliefs, comparisons, self-doubt, a fierce inner critic and the tendency to put the needs of others before our own can all combine to hold us back from stepping into our true potential and emotional freedom. Angela will talk to us about clear steps we can take to change these patterns, reframe our stories and stake a claim on our inherent worthiness so we can live, work, love, parent and contribute to the world wholeheartedly”.
It’s a subject that is obviously very close to my heart, as wholeheartedness is at the core of all of my work with individuals and business owners.
What was fantastic was to see how many women are drawn to this message as well, how many women are aware of feeling disconnected. A little lost inside their own lives. And keen to do something about this! The event organiser at the school told me that she had double the RSVP’s she normally receives, so it is absolutely true that if you sometimes feel alone in the middle of a crowded life, that you have lost your way you are so not alone.
We all play bullshit dominoes
On the day, I got started with the concept of “The Bullshit Dominoes” (excuse the b word, but it is an oh so perfect description of this phenomenon that was shared with me by a beautiful friend. It goes something like this…
“So, how are things going?” (I bet you’re fabulous, you look fabulous, how the hell do you always look so together when I can barely make it out the door on time!!??).
“Oh, I’m fine, busy, you know, everything’s going great” (God, if you only knew how NOT fine I am at the moment, I am so scared that this launch/ event/ child/ thing is going to go pear-shaped…I am SO out of my depth and terrified right now)
“Oh great! Yeah, me too, so much going on……. must fly!” (I knew it, it’s all going so well for her, why can’t my life/business/children/partner be like hers???)
……And so the dominos continue to fall in conversation after conversation!
What’s the truth?
Often life is great and fabulous and wonderful. And thats’s when it is easy to be in a state of joy and gratitude and happiness.
But sometimes those feelings of fabulousness are few and far between. And we have this nagging feeling of not-enoughness. And an Inner Critic who really likes to kick in and let you know, just in case you hadn’t realised, just how NOT fabulous you are. Especially in comparison so someone else who seems so bright, shiny and perfect.
The problem here is that we are judging our insides by someone else’s outsides.
And that someone else could be feeling just like you and equally afraid to let her perceived “imperfections” be seen!
Bullshit dominoes indeed.
I asked these questions of the women in the audience.
- I do what others want even when I don’t want to
- I hold myself back or easily give in to avoid upsetting, hurting or offending someone
- I hold grudges and resentments inside
- I’m reluctant to set lofty goals because I’m afraid I’ll not achieve them
- I’m unwilling to ask for what I want because I often don’t actually know
- I don’t seem to have a lot of choices in my life
- I feel a hole inside of myself sometimes as though I just woke up and found I am living someone else’s life
- I often feel anxious and I’m not sure why
- I am conscious of often feeling afraid of being judged
- I am juggling so many balls in the air and I am sure I am going to drop them
- If I could, I would be living a very different life from what I am now… but I know what is expected of me and so I don’t
- Sometimes it feels like I don’t do anything well – I’m an average Mum, average wife, average friend and I am so tired of feeling guilty
- There is just no time for me and I resent that
- There is something inside of me that is hungry, almost like a soul hunger, I know there is something more I could be doing but I just don’t know what it is but I am ready to find out
- I want to explore spirituality, but I’m not sure where to start
- There is often a big disconnection between who I present to the world and who I really am inside
Almost every hand in the room went up for almost every question! So many of us experience fear and self doubt on the inside and want to keep that fact hidden away, sure that we are the only ones feeling like that.
We’re not alone.
How do we break the habit?
So, how do we break the habit of mask on, armour shiny, all is fine, fine fine, fine?
We start to get real! To raise our self-awareness and recognise our Inner Critic when she arrives to keep us in place. To keep us smaller than we could be.
We take hold of the powerful tools of self-compassion, self-affirmation and self-acceptance and recognise that we’re not perfect, and that’s ok because no one else is either.
And when someone asks us how we are, we take a deep breath, embrace everyday courage and tell the truth “pretty good overall but feeling a little scared about this….”.
Start to have wholehearted conversations. Because when we show up, we give another woman the opportunity to do the same. And when fear or shame is doused with empathy, it cannot survive. And we all feel lighter, heard and seen when we stop playing the bullshit dominoes.
It’s a big subject this one.
Remove your domino from the trail….claim emotional freedom instead. Another woman will thank you for your courage and perhaps remove her mask as well.