Two weeks ago I left home to embark on a bunch of new experiences including being emcee for the national Protective Behaviours Australia Conference. That might not sound like a big deal but it was bloody big ticket item for me. I said yes to this gig 2 years ago, figuring I would be comfortable with my role by the time it came around. I might add, I happen to be the President of PBA so it’s not like I’m new to or don’t know anything about the topic. The thing is, what tripped me up had nothing to do with knowing why the audience were there. It was far worse than that.
What tripped me up
What tripped me up was my old “I’m not enough” wounded self. You see for most of life (I’m almost the other side of 54), I have bought into the “I am not ….. enough” story. Not smart enough. Not educated enough. Not capable enough. Not worthy enough. I wrote blah blah blah and then deleted it, because it’s not blah blah blah. Instead, I could go on if I wanted to dig deeper into the pain and shame of my trapped trauma. But I won’t. Who needs that?
So I went out to the edge of the ledge of change and stayed in that old scary energy for a couple of months. Trying not to think about lit, as the date loomed closer. I’ve been on the ledge before. The ledge of there’s really only 2 options here – retreat or fly. But this time I couldn’t even remember my favourite old parable:”
“Come to the edge he said.
I can’t, I’m scared.
Come to the edge he said.
I can’t, I’m scared.
Come to the edge he said.
At that stage all I could hear was the call to the ledge, not the promise of the joy to come.
And nothing I said to myself or my loved and trusted tribe or even did, seemed to change how I felt. Well not enough. So I decided last week to just sit with it. I didn’t want to sit “in” it because that felt like a cop out for me. Sitting with it instead, for me, meant allowing myself to feel raw and vulnerable and to question what my fear was all about it. And here’s the thing, even looking that shithead in the eye didn’t change anything. I acknowledged the feelings, felt the feelings, but do you know what it actually took to change how I felt?
What it took to actually change how I felt
Look, there were a few things over the course of 48 that flipped this shit on it’s head.
The first thing was a timely visit from our first born. She popped over the night before I flew out and sat with me in my vulnerability. She listened. And then she fed me back some medicine I have fed her. Together we stared at a wall that has sat between us for what seemed like a lifetime and dismantled it. Phew! That was HUGE! I started to feel like I could breathe again. Plus she loaned me her most rocking comfy kick arse boots which I hardly took off the next 4 days, some dresses that had me feeling pretty fine, and a pin with “Don’t stop until you feel proud” emblazoned on it.That was like a GOLD STAR right there.
Second thing was staying with my girlfriend who has known me the longest and loves me even when I say and do bat shit crazy stuff. She also sat with me in my vulnerabilities and simply held space for me to “be” there. Acknowledging every thing I was feeling she didn’t judge or tell me what I had to do. She simple met me where I’ve met her before.
Third thing was sharing a room with my mentor and dear friend. This helped me feel the deep love and acceptance of my tribe.
The fourth thing was to be in the damn experience of standing in front of 300 people and supporting them to participate in the fabulous Conference we had put together for them. I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for how bloody good it felt to finally claim that stage. Not for egotistical accolades. But for my wounded “not enough” self. To take her into the spotlight, not once, but countless times introducing speakers, interviewing my mentor and enjoying it, allowed her to experience a diametrically opposed bunch of feelings. It was phenomenal. It also allowed me to lay down new neural pathways of new memories, new feelings, new thoughts and ultimately new behaviours.
The final thing was to have the opportunity to speak to a significant colleague and friend about my fear of her judgement. It was the icing on the cake. My rational mind knew full well how ridiculous that thought was. But my wounded self didn’t. Sharing my truth with her gave me great strength and called out one of my elephants in the room. My fear had little to do with her judgement and more to do with my lack of self approval.
I knew this gig would kick me out of my comfort zone. I knew I would learn a lot from it. I just had no idea what! So for what it’s worth, here’s some of the things I learned:
- Be kind to yourself, you are the only you on the planet.
- Be prepared to visit and sit with discomfort. And make sure you’ve got a ticket out of there.
- Talk to your loved ones and let them experience your vulnerabilities and support you.
- Give yourself permission to have new experiences that will help your grow and develop.
- Own your own stuff. Not one of those 300 people could have judged me the way I was judging myself.
- Get out of your head and into your heart. Ask yourself, “What would love do here?”
- Keep showing up, being real and loving yourself.
- Don’t stop until your proud.
- Get on the mat!
Ps How’s this for validation from my Yoga class the day after I wrote this?