Time To Grow
“There’s always another level up.
There’s always another ascension.
More grace, more light, more generosity,
more compassion, more to shed,
more to grow.”
I am in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s refreshingly honest and real perspective on what it means to be human. Her ballsy truth-telling inspires me to go beneath the surface of my life experiences and churn up the murky waters where my embodied pain and shame have settled as buried treasures.
I still remember the moment I heard those gut-wrenching words in my yearly Coaching for Excellence performance review. You are probably familiar with that routine – the time of year when it becomes everybody’s job to disperse dissatisfaction evenly throughout the organization by trying to convince everyone that they’re lucky to be getting a 2% raise and that a “Meets Expectations” is a good thing. Stop it. Don’t try to make it sound sexy. There is nothing satisfying about a “Meets”. It is what it is and nobody feels good about it. Onward.
“You have fallen back.” The message wasn’t from my direct boss, it had been relayed down from the one room apartment at the top where the big guy in charge takes up residence. No specific context or behavioral feedback accompanied that message. No details on what I could start doing differently to grow and become a stronger leader. No openness to have the conversation directly with me. No insight on how to get back in good graces with the landlord.
In an instance, I was taken down by the suffocating stranglehold of those four simple words. Queue the inner critic voice. It overshadowed me, just like a severe thunderstorm steam-rolling through the plains of Kansas. I began to hear a familiar conversation in my mind. “He must be right. I don’t have what it takes.” “I’m a fraud and it’s a course of miracles that I have made it this far.” Then, with a blink of an eye, I transferred my shame into anger and pointed the poison right back to where the message originated. I began defending my hard work, dedication and devotion. Blaming. Drowning in resentment for “giving up my life” to serve everyone else but myself. I was heart-broken, embarrassed, lost and felt all alone. My confidence was zapped.
Divine Grace, I need you.
Oh sweetheart, listen closely to me. You were so focused on chasing the victory flag that you pushed your way through all the subtle wake up calls the Universe had been sending you. With few options left, we decided to get your attention with one swift blow to your pride. There was no easy path forward. The only way out was in – it was time to shine some light on the dark and reveal the truth. Underneath the emptiness, loneliness and shame there lies wisdom, connection and courage. But you must turn toward the pain and stay with it, just like you did. That was one of those defining moments in your life that could have set you free or carried you right back to the depths of deception.
Hold on, I’m not done yet. I want you to sit in that experience and dig a little deeper. You can keep choosing to make this all about him -resisting, fighting against and getting caught up in the story of how he did it, what a sexist asshole he is and how unfair it was. While some of that might be true - Just Saying – it’s your opportunity to RISE ABOVE. If you get stuck in your old pattern of focusing energy and attention on the other person, becoming the victim of the circumstances, once again you’re giving your power away. This wasn’t about him. He’s who he is, doing what he does, in the way that he does it. You can’t change him, but you always have the power to decide how you choose to respond.
The guy who sent this message was your teacher in that moment. An invitation to grow. To shed old ways of being that no longer served you. To become a better version of the badass woman that is rising within you. To embody more grace.
The real questions are, “What are you ready to shed?” “What is rising in you?”
Over the course of many years, my entire identity had become enmeshed in a blind attachment to who I worked for and what I did. Until that moment of awakening, everything was distorted. A lifetime of hustling, performing, pleasing, proving and striving to justify my worth. Moving nine times in 20 years, accepting every position I was ever offered, doing what I thought I was supposed to do – delivering results, delivering some more results and doing it again for good measure - all with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. I no longer knew who I was nor what I cared about. I had become an empty shell, measuring myself based on what I had accomplished. Never considering who I was and what I needed to be fulfilled and whole.
Divine Grace, any last words?
Well sweetheart, you know when you invite me in, I’ve got something to say. In the race to prove your worth, you lost your soul. And here’s the real kicker. There never was a race to begin with.
You didn’t get that message back then because you weren’t capable enough or strong enough or liked enough. It’s because that wasn’t your SOUL’s path. We had to stop you before you got sucked in too far and there wasn’t any turning back.
I’ve got four new words for you. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Everywhere, women are being called to RISE UP and speak their truth. To give power to their voice. To give voice to their story. You were redirected to be part of this transformation. To guide. To teach. To inspire. You were born for this moment. Welcome home.
Here’s what I have come to realize. I hadn’t fallen back. Who I had always taken myself to be was falling apart. I was no longer willing to sacrifice deep connection and intimacy for long nights at the office. I was no longer willing to hold my voice back. I was no longer willing to wear a mask that represented who I thought I was supposed to be while compromising who I authentically am. I was no longer willing to ignore my soul’s calling. The pleaser, prover, pusher started to dissolve away and I simply wasn’t willing to play the game any longer. Over time and by staying with it, the pain and unsettledness of falling apart started to take shape as a wiser, warmer, braver version of myself. By listening to my heart, I began to set myself free. For that breakdown in my life, I am forever grateful.
We’ve got this.