We think we need the big money or fame or follower or impact to validate us. We want to get out of that uncomfortable situation of not being sure if we're actually able to make it. If we can stick around long enough to figure out what works and what doesn't. Long enough to figure out what we're really good at, where we shine (both inside and out), and how we can best be of service to others.
I have a big confession to make…
About 7 years ago I have set out my journey to radically follow my heart. And some time along that way, I got extremely sidetracked by my fear of not being a productive member of society / my clan, which in turn – in my head – is tied to earning money. I have figured out that I like helping people, so all the things I have been doing the last almost 4 years have been – on the surface – geared towards that.
In the beginning, I even “allowed” myself to have the time and space to find my connection to my inner voice. For 3 months or so, and I constantly talked about how important it is, to listen to and follow that inner voice. And it is – to me – the most important thing. But I haven’t radically truly communicated that to the universe through my actions. I did do a lot of self-discovery and unfolding of my inner voice, also after these initial 3 months, but I hadn’t noticed that I had put myself in a cage to do so.
What is your main driving force for doing something? And have you checked over time if it’s still the same?
Are you “all in” with your current project? can you feel, that you reached the point of no return? That the only way out of it is through? And you’re ready to do whatever it take? Do it, or die?
If you don’t have something like that in your life – and that can also be your personal journey of self-discovery -, you can skip this article and come back when you do. Because then, you will easily find excuses as soon as it gets a little tough, and won’t have the strength to look at your fears.
Slow is a very relative term. In the past, traveling by train was considered fast, compared to traveling with horses or on foot even. Now, it’s considered slow, compared to airplanes, that have become such a common mode of transport nowadays.
A lot of people would have thought me crazy or stupid for taking the train to ride from Minneapolis in the center of the United States, all the way to Portland, Oregon on the westcoast. The whole ride took about 38 hours – not counting the different amounts of delay – and almost 3000 kilometers. That sounds like a lot. And it is! But then, time is also relative.
Community is such a big part of our DNA… It’s the feeling we all long for in one way or another. It is about being truly seen, being accepted, being loved. It’s about belonging to something bigger than ourselves, living our gift to others, and seing our purpose in the world unfold.
At the end of March this year, I spent one week in the North of Sweden in the middle of nowhere together with nine other people. The only thing that we knew about each other were, that we were all interested in native lifeways and learning about Sami culture and crafts.
When a person I talk to is unhappy with a situation that happened to them, I love to tell a certain Zen story about a man and his son, showing that nothing is ever only as it appears in the beginning. That apparent blessings could later be seen as curses and vice versa.
About three weeks ago, something happened, that now I have my own real life story somehow similar to it! You can skip right to my experience if you know the Zen story….
It might include some creative freedom.
One day, out of the blue, a man gets visited by a rich relative, who gifts him with a horse. So when he rode into the village, everyone said, what a blessing it is that he got that horse, because it can help with work on his farm and so many other things. But the man just said: We’ll see.
There once was a little girl. She kept to herself and didn’t make friends easily. She felt awkward and like she didn’t really belong, because she was so different. But she was hopeful, so she had set out to find a group of other people who also felt like they didn’t belong, and formed a bond. This bond was providing her with a lot of feelings of belonging and happiness, and she felt understood. Maybe for the first time in her life.
But one day, out of the blue, they were gone. And instead there were people, looking the same, but acting very differently. Confused, she tried to find what she had done wrong, but couldn’t make sense of the situation. She searched high and low for a way to get back that feeling of belonging. Looking for other people, and at the same time too scared to experience the same thing again.
This is when she built a wall to ward off her feelings, because they had become unbearable. And to feel a resemblance of what it felt like to belong to a group, and feel “something”, she turned to the TV. She found a lot of shows and movies that invoked that feeling. But even though these feelings were created on the surface, there was no real connection.
Years went by without much change. The memory of that pain had faded into the subconsious and was magnified when looking at it from the conscious. And the solution with the second hand emotions seemed to be working just fine. So for years and years, she didn’t see any reason to change.
Until she did.
Questioning her own level of capacity, she started an investigation. Like a dog with a bone she slowly carved away all the layers of protection that she had built. Seeking in different areas like diet, fitness, mindset and more. With every step getting more focus on inner processes, while gradually also changing her outside environment and habits.
She stumbled upon courses and seminars, wanting to change something on the outside, and ended up with more and more experiences of feeling alive again. Finally having role models of expressing their emotions, and showing her that what she had been doing for such a long time was not a normal state of being. That it was more akin to being a walking dead.
Intrigued by what she saw being possible, she set the intention of wanting to really connect with her own emotions and feelings. But it was still a long way. Being there for such a long time, the wall that she had built had grown bigger and thicker, keeping more and more emotions out. And with that, the fear had grown stronger. Fear of being even more overwhelmed, because she could just see the huge wall, but not what lay behind it.
Slowly chiseling away on that wall, repeating her intention to want to connect and feel her own emotions and feelings, she had found a way! With every step she took, she collected all the courage that she could muster, and dragged along the fear like an anchor. And after some time, that anchor became a friend, so that now she can walk alongside the fear, holding her hand.
And her feelings? They are slowly but surely coming back to her, the more she’s working on dissolving that wall that she built. And the more she experiences feeling her feelings and being able to handle feeling them, the more she builds trust in her own psyche to only give her as much as she can handle. Slowly training her to handle more and more of her emotions, and building stronger connection to her inner voice, feelings and gifts.
Even though this is only one of many stories of how we can learn to feel again, it is a strong testament to the power of will, and our ability to change situations that seem unchangable.
And after asking myself those questions for many years, I finally got clearer answers a few weeks ago, when I realized, that I was trying to put myself into predefined boxes, that didn’t really fit.
I felt like a puppet on a string, until I had realized that I needed to let go of those ideas and definitions and openly look at what I do. That process of realization and anger (described in Puppet on a string), and now letting go and opening up, were the most important steps in my process of figuring out who I am.
I could tell you that I’m on my path to building my business that allows me to live my purpose and serve in the best way that I can. And since I’m building a business, I need to know who I am, what I stand for and what my services and products are.
But that’s just a story that I held on to for the last almost two years. I was grabbing onto that story so tightly, that I didn’t even realize what was actually happening to me.
I dove into different free and paid material about building your business, marketing, online marketing, how to grow your instagram, how to do facebook ads correctly, how to build up an online training, and the list goes on and on.
The Scanner’s curse and gift
Since I identify with being a Scanner or Multipotentialite, I jumped on any opportunity I could find to learn more. I wanted to understand everything. And with every offer, every webinar, they were targeting to a specific group of people.
One was for coaches, one was for trainers, one for influencers, others were for — I don’t even remember all the “role definitions” I stumbled upon. And I could see part of me in any of those descriptions.
So subconsciously – being a good student and all – I tried to bend and stretch and change myself so that I might fit into one of those categories. Because I thought I needed to know “who I am”, in order to know what next steps to take, so that I could fit into those meticulously prepared courses. To be who “those people” wanted me to be to fit their offer.
But wait a second…
There was always that feeling of something being off. It didn’t feel right to call myself a coach. And it also didn’t feel right to call myself all the other definitons. And the more I noticed it and looked at it in more detail, the more I realized two aspects of it:
Like I mentioned in my last post about purely being me, I’m really good at anticipating what others want and expect of me. But I didn’t realize until the last few days, of how it seeped into many different parts of my path to be self-employed and build up my business. I didn’t know at all how to handle that completely new process of being on my own, deciding for myself, what to do almost every single minute. No idea, how to really focus and build up a project like that from scratch.
So, of course, I was looking for answers in a lot of different places outside of myself. Seeing patterns, following questions, mimicking other’s paths and figuring out how I would fit in those paths. I only realize now, how stressful that was that whole time. Always being on the lookout of what I missed in my observations, always afraid that it’s not a complete replica. So I guess that is a big part of why it never felt right to go online with it. It never really felt like my own expression.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, to collect some new experiences of making myself visible to a broader audience, but it only got me so far. Like a child that can’t swim very well yet and is pushed into deep water, your first instinct is to just struggle real hard to somehow get back to the shore or some area where you can hold on to something or get out of the water. That’s all that I could do. It was frustrating, but at the same time, it also helped me to see the parts I still needed to learn and figure out, before I could just swim on my own.
Who am I?
I was wondering, if I’m a Coach, or a Trainer, or a Blogger, or a Writer, or a Consultant. Trainer for groups to go out into nature to connect with nature, or just facilitator and organizer for those events? Consultant for IT, for Online Marketing, for organizational development? I really tensed myself to figure out who I was. Even if I came up with more than one definition, I would have been fine. But I felt like I NEEDED to find an answer to the question of what I do. During my training to become self-employed and all the other programs (marketing, business,…) I stumbled upon after that, a lot of focus was to get your elevator pitch up and ready.
All of those actions were very much focused on what’s outside of me. Even though I meditated on my vision and my dreams and what I really want to do and why, the motivation was still somewhat extrinsic. It was focused on what I need to be on the outside so that I fit into some pattern where people know what to make of me.
stuff that just happens…
All the while, I didn’t even realize, that I was already following my path. It was especially fascinating to me, that all the steps to follow my heart had happened incidentally, even though I was putting all that energy in those really stressful exercises to find out what that big faceless blob of “society” needed me to be. It felt like running around in circles with your feet tied together.
So while I’m ripping away the strings, my next posts will finally reveal, what I came up with for the question of “Who am I and what is my message?”
It seems that we constantly hear and read about being authentic and being you and being true to yourself. But what does that actually mean? I read a wonderful article about that topic by Manuel Harand (article only available in German), writing about his journey to his truth and it touched me deeply. For many years I’ve been on my path to be honest and tell my truth, not hiding behind white lies. But the painful realization is, that I’ve only been scratching on the surface, not really being completely honest to myself in that path. I touched on that in a previous article on vulnerability and expression of self. But it goes much deeper than that.
In so many situations I automatically scan the situation and the people involved, in a matter of milliseconds flipping through all the different scenarios of what they might expect from me and how they might expect me to be. Not realizing for a long time that I was always hiding big parts of myself…
I’m still really good at trying to figure out what others expect of me, and to do that and be that person. And for my journey, it’s not a good talent to have, because it keeps me from really discovering myself. What is purely Elisabeth? What is purely me? And can it be expressed in words?
My journey to follow my wild heart is my path to my true self. And on the way I learned that there is no clear answer to that. I learned that being me is not a state but a process. Not a noun but a verb – as Tamarack Song would put it. It is not about arriving some place and saying: “Ah, yes. Now I arrived and I’m truly myself”. It’s in every single decision I make, every single thing I do and think and say.
Every time I decide not to say anything – because of whatever wonderful and creative story I came up with why I don’t have to say something – I deny myself to be me. And it hurts. It’s so much easier to just go back into my old patterns and not deal with it… But since I found my voice to follow my wild heart, it is a really powerful reminder of my path. And it strips away all the stories I’m creating. It’s not about showing all the different versions of myself that someone else expects or wants me to be. It’s about figuring out, when I’m not honest to myself, then thanking myself for noticing it. And inviting all the emotions in, that come with it.
So, after sitting on that article for a few days, worrying that the message might not be clear enough or on point enough or xyz enough, I embrace all of that, welcome it to be a part of me being purely Elisabeth, and will send it on its way. In its absolutely perfect imperfect glory. And after hitting the “publish”-button, I’ll take some time to care for all the emotions that came up…
Can you relate? How much or how often are you purely yourself?