How to know if you're self-destructing.
Last winter, in the throes of a meltdown (literally on the floor wailing, feeling about seven years old), frustrated that I didn't somehow "know better" enough to avoid pain now that I teach this stuff to other people, one of my dearest mentors Annmarie Feiler said to me: "You've spent 35 years living this way not knowing this was a thing. Did you really think you were gonna turn it around overnight?"
I'll be totally honest, I really did, until she said it and then I was like, well shit, of course not! I then shifted out of my meltdown immediately and we got to work.
Over the course of the last year and a half especially I've been exploring the roots of some deep limiting belief systems with a new set of alchemical lenses on:
being too much
These are super big chargey words that so many of us who consider ourselves transformational teachers like to use to sell stuff but don't like to share so much as it pertains to our own lives.
But here's the thing. No one escapes this shit. No one. Not me, not you, not my extraordinary mentors, not Gandhi, not the Buddha, not Jesus, not the Dalai Lama.
Evidence of power and alchemy of our deepest wounds is in our ability to talk about them openly, knowing we are worthy and safe, and in how quickly we move through hiccups WHEN we stumble upon them. Because while our experiences don't make up who we are, they are also a part of us (first, as a part of our shadow, ruling our behavior without us knowing it, and then, once we heal and alchemize it, they become our innate gifts).
And there have been years where I didn't talk about most of what was a part of me, at least not publicly. Even as a coach. I shared what I knew a lot, but I didn't share a ton about who I was.
Because it was really fucking vulnerable, for one.
And, because, like all of us, there are certain things I haven't fully healed and moved through yet, because sometimes you can only get so deep before you need to go address some other stuff and then you circle back around and go deeper. In my life, I'm committed to sharing publicly with full responsibility, which means I only do that once I've gained enough clarity to take responsibility for my part of anything I experience.
This is why there isn't a strict timeline to follow when we're talking about actual transformation. This is also why we never "arrive" - we only go deeper.
I had many intense experiences where I felt deeply betrayed by my mother in the first 12 or so years of my life. At that young age, I made a lot of decisions about who she was, and about who I was, that ultimately ruled much of my young adult and adult life, and our relationship, despite me being an otherwise really well put together human.
Successful as I was in all other domains of my life, there came a time where I couldn't live with hating her anymore. Because hating my mother meant I hated every single part of me that she represented for me. I was far enough removed from my experiences at that point that I didn't want to be governed by that anymore. It was destroying me (and probably also her!). But I had about negative zero tools to heal the parts of me that had developed such repulse for my mom. And it was almost like over the years the repulse and resentment was just getting worse. Deciding to go in there and look at it felt very much like opening up pandora's box.
I don't think everyone needs the same interventionary methods that I did, but amongst my tools were working the 12 steps with ACA, longterm mentorship, counseling specifically around belief systems and victim consciousness, non-violent communication, transformational bodywork, somatic trauma release, and lots of other intensive, immersive courses and group work around self-development and emotional intelligence.
This all sounds super dramatic and most of you who have known me over the years know that it was rare that I let on that anything negative was going on with me. I was buying plane tickets to the opposite side of the planet having wild adventures, making six figures as a visa-sponsored expat in Denmark, living in a sweet apartment in the nicest neighborhood in town, competing in olympic weightlifting, and without me even realizing it, I was also self-destructing.
Here's the thing I want to really drive home here: I didn't really KNOW I was self-destructing, I thought I was doing great because I knew cognitively that I was better off than most of the people around me and I told myself I had nothing to complain about! I didn't know I was self-destructing until like, at least a year into explicit investment in my self development through coaching and a lot of course work. At certain points I might've said my body was revolting, or I might've noticed that I couldn't nail down a partner who treated me well for the life of me (I usually made that about them, not me), or I might've said I was bored, or I might've been frustrated with work, or struggling to maintain my weight without high levels of control.
But if you had asked me about any of that stuff I would've immediately denied it all and told you everything was great. I would use my apartment and my travel and all the Michelin star restaurants I've been to and my great job and my athletic background as evidence of that. I didn't even know WHY I did that - I just did, and yet what I really yearned for was for someone to look me into the eyes long enough to see through my bullshit, and then stay with me so that I could finally fall apart and put myself back together again. But at the core, I didn't trust a soul to do that essential piece, and so I just kept it together. Period.
I finally got desperate enough to DO something about it when I developed IBS, anxiety and panic attacks, lost my voice for two years and couldn't sing, and realized that I was not built to work in finance and had no idea what to do instead. I was in the throes of an existential crisis and spiritual awakening AND I STILL DID NOT TALK ABOUT IT TO ANYONE AND HAD TO BE CONVINCED TO PARTICIPATE IN MY FIRST RETREAT (I also initially lied and said I couldn't afford it! Ha!).
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to have some permission to be honest. You don't have to be honest with me or anyone else, but if you can sit with yourself for five minutes while you tell yourself the truth, you will be one step closer to living the life you really want to be living. And that's a huge fucking step.
Here's my invitation to you: Let go of what you think others are doing (because most of the people around you are probably lying to themselves, too), and ask yourself: am I really living my best life, or can I do better? Am I willing to admit to myself that I'm not satisfied long enough to take action to make changes? And most importantly: Am I willing to let go of the parts of me that want to stay stuck in order to have the life I want?
In my own personal experience, these were the questions I had to ask myself in order to say yes to make longterm change. Over and over and over again. I still ask them every single day.
I love you. <3