It’s real easy for me to seek outside myself for the answers.
What should I wear?
What should I say?
What books should I read?
What should I eat?
What course should I take?
Who should I follow?
What should I study?
Who should I trust?
My questions all some version of “What’s the right thing to do?”
One of my biggest drivers is to not be wrong.
In that state, I was at the mercy of everyone else while simultaneously reinforcing the (total BS, but very real) story that I can’t be trusted.
Here’s what I learned to do
Step 1 – I redefined “right”
For me, what’s “right” is what feels good for me at the moment.
My inner protector immediately said, “Absolutely not. We cannot trust ourselves with what feels good.” 👈🏻That’s part of our patriarchal programming.
I listened and acknowledged their fears. “You’re right. It is scary. And, it is going to be super fucking uncomfortable until it’s not and that’s okay. We’re going to be with it together. I’m going to be with you and we’re going to learn how to move with the discomfort and fear.”
And we did.
And we are.
Step 2 – Practice the ask
I ask myself + my body what she wants. Wants to eat, wants to wear, wants to read, wants to study, wants to do at this moment.
I ask her if and how she wants to move, when she wants to wake up, when she wants breaks, who she wants to work with and what she wants to do for fun.
Step 3 – I communicate with her + take action on her desires
Sometimes we take action right away and sometimes it’s later that day and sometimes we negotiate to a different day.
I practice trusting her by letting her lead.
And, sometimes I find myself wanting to ask someone if they think I should take a course or hire a coach or take a program or buy the book and in those moments, I smile and I pause.
I remind myself who I am and what I know and I seek an answer from the only person who knows what I want.
Now I DO believe in external support.
It’s important + necessary.
The support I invest in is support that helps ME tap into MY answers.
Why? Because I’m fucking brilliant about me.
Just like YOU are fucking brilliant about YOU and anyone who has told you differently (even if it’s you) is lying.
They are likely lying because they love you and are trying to keep you safe. And they are lying about you.
You can unlearn the stories.
You can heal your relationship with your reflection.
You can come safely home to who you really are.
I don’t understand why I’m so tired…
I want you to know that it is okay if…
It is okay if you have.
If I abandon my authentic self in an attempt to be chosen, even if they choose me…
I will KNOW it wasn’t me they chose.
☝🏻This can lead to anger, resentment, sadness + depression.
Here’s how it showed up for me…
▪️I didn’t set or honor my boundaries
▪️I felt obligated to say yes when I wanted to say no
▪️I was afraid to slow down — let alone stop
▪️I was demanding perfection from myself
▪️I was using my inner critic as my main motivator
▪️I sacrificed myself, my needs, my desires
▪️I had no hobbies
▪️I stopped playing
▪️I stopped dreaming
▪️I wasn’t sleeping well
▪️I felt low-grade sick all the time
▪️I fluctuated between sad + resentful
I was stuck in a matrix of my own making; the pattern perpetuating the story that who I was as I was simply was not good enough.
The cycle of self-abandonment in search of love + approval was never going to be fulfilling because when they loved me, they loved who I wasn’t.
Why do we do this?
Because we are smart + adaptive human beings with brilliant brains designed to keep us alive.
We learn how to get our needs met.
Once I understood that I was living my life in response to the traumas I experienced, in protection of them ever happening again, adapting for my survival…
I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “From now on, I’m choosing me!”
No longer did I want to live life stuck in the cycle of self-abandonment.
Let’s DO this!
I was ready.
Yet I resisted.
I knew what to do + I wasn’t doing it.
Gahhhhhh!!!! What is wrong with me???
I must have asked that question a few thousand times.
Here’s the answer if you’re asking the same…
Not one damn thing.
Nothing was wrong with me + nothing is wrong with you.
Boldly declaring, “I choose me!” will feel terrifying to a system who has survived by doing the opposite for most of its life.
You may know that you NEED TO make a new choice.
You may know that you WANT TO.
But until your internal systems…
Until your body feels safe to do so…
Friend, I’m telling you from experience, you cannot — you will not — willpower your way out of this one.
✅ You can learn how to create safety from the inside out
✅ You can cultivate self-trust
✅ You can heal your relationship with your reflection
✅ You can come home to yourself
And when you do, you will no longer feel the need to chase the choosing + change to be chosen.
This is the work I practice.
This is the work I teach.
I got sick 2 days before Christmas.
Getting sick was NOT in my calendar.
In the past, I would have pushed through.
I would have forced my body to do the things I had scheduled because I used to believe that my schedule was more important than my body’s needs.
This time, I surrendered.
My body’s needs became my schedule.
I listened as she said, “Michelle, we’re not well and we need to rest.”
I said, “Okay.” and I slept.
I did nothing other than rest.
I had brief moments of consciousness + then I would go back to sleep.
For 2 days I didn’t answer texts or calls, I cancelled appointments + plans with family, I didn’t read or do any work.
I just slept.
I didn’t try to force her into action and I didn’t shame her for messing up my plans.
I gave her what she needed and today she woke up feeling better.
And when I woke up, I didn’t tell her she needed to get to work to “make up for the time off”.
Which I used to do.
Instead, I have trusted her + I have allowed her to lead.
What does she want? We do that.
After 3 days “off”, I have allowed her to sit outside, read, write, paint, play guitar, and move at her pace.
Here’s what I know…
When we give our body what she needs but then tell her she “owes” us for the missed time, we are shaming ourselves for the nurturing we needed.
The love and care we showed were conditional.
When we do this, over time, we train ourselves to believe that it’s easier to not give ourselves what we need because we always feel like sh*t afterward.
The shame is why we feel like sh*t.
We’re conditioned to believe that we should feel bad because we “indulged” in time off.
This perpetuates the lie that taking care of ourselves is a vacation of sorts and therefore something we need to earn.
What if there was no “making up for lost time”?
What if the time wasn’t lost?
What if we met ourselves in this present moment and made a choice in this present moment of what it is we desire + moved from that place without the pressure and punishment of what we chose the days prior?
If you’re in the cycle of working to the point of exhaustion, taking time off because you are sick and have no other choice + then beating yourself up for taking the time off and forcing yourself to work overtime to “make up” for the time you took off, you’re like most of the women I work with.
I get it.
I functioned that way for years. I thought it was normal.
And I guess it is normal in a society where we are conditioned to believe that slowing down is weak + that our work equals our worth.
☝🏻 This is why we have humans who fear falling behind, who are scared of silence and terrified of the consequences of choosing sacred self-care over work.
The belief that both can live together feels like a fantasy. And a risky one at that.
Detoxing yourself from the programming that profits from you working in fear can take time.
It’s a practice friends.
Realizing you’re in the pattern in the first step.
If our needs are unmet as children, we can develop a belief that we are unworthy of being taken care of.
We create this belief because as small children, we think that everything happening in our environment is a reflection of us.
So if our needs are unmet, we make it mean that it’s happening because there is something wrong with us.
When I say “unmet needs”, that might have been your physical needs (things like healthcare, proper clothing, hunger, thirst, etc.) but it also applies to your emotional needs (things like safety, stability, security, unconditional love, acceptance, validation and affirmation of your belonging + worthiness).
Our brain is wired for survival and therefore if our needs are unmet, it will feel life-threatening.
Because we are incredibly resilient, when this happens, we tap into our creative problem-solving muscle.
We humans will do whatever we need to do in order to survive.
So if we feel unsafe, unlovable, unimportant, invalid and/or unworthy, we will figure out ways to get those things we desire, even if we have to manipulate ourselves or others in order to make it happen.
Again, we are creative + innovative like that.
I’ve been reflecting a lot recently and one of the biggest realizations + healings I have had has been around self-sacrifice labeled as “I am a good person in service to others”.
When that part of me was leading, I didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on those that I claimed to love by NOT taking care of myself.
I didn’t realize that I had been functioning, stuck inside of a trauma response where I believed my safety was at risk.
I didn’t recognize that I had been unconsciously operating from the belief that my needs were invalid.
I couldn’t see that I was an adult who was being led by an inner child with unmet needs.
So I overworked, I pushed myself beyond my capacity, and I didn’t uphold my boundaries because this wounded part of me believed that I was unworthy, but thought if I were to do a good enough job taking care of everyone else, I might be taken care of.
The people that I loved the most were the most stressed out and worried about me as they watched me destroy myself + declare I was doing it for them.
The moment I recognized what was happening I began to shift.
The journey wasn’t always easy because there was a lot of healing that needed to happen, but what I know is that I was — I AM worth it.
So are you.
I’m worth the time it has taken + I’m worth the practice.
So are you.
We humans are programmed for survival so it makes sense that we will do whatever we can to ensure that survival.
And, I do not need to choose to live how I was conditioned.
Neither do you.
You can learn to neutrally observe what is happening.
You can learn to explore with curiosity and a desire to understand.
You can decide what you want to experience.
You can learn to take new actions.
You can learn to meet your own needs without blaming anyone else.
You can heal your relationship with your reflection.
I was a zero sum thinker.
𝗮𝗱𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 – relating to or denoting a situation in which whatever is gained by one side is lost by the other.
My thinking, the byproduct of my wounded masculine, patriarchal programming had me convinced that life was a competition with only 1 winner.
Which meant, whoever wasn’t winning was losing.
And I was terrified of losing.
So I had to compete.
And competition meant doing whatever it took.
This manifested in my life in many different ways.
✅ An inability to relax
✅ Mistrust of myself + others — especially women
✅ A need to “rescue” others
✅ Paranoia around being found out
✅ A commitment to self-protection + preservation.
Can you relate?
I couldn’t ever relax because there was always the potential for an attack.
At any moment, someone could come along and take from me what I had worked so hard to earn.
And that was terrifying.
So I had to be “ON” all the time.
If my guard was ever down, I could lose everything.
The thing I didn’t see until it was almost too late is that the way I was operating was already costing me everything.
If you had told me a year ago that the way I’m living now was possible I wouldn’t of believed you because I didn’t fully trust myself.
➡️ I didn’t trust myself to slow down.
➡️ I didn’t trust myself to relax.
➡️ I didn’t trust myself to take time off.
➡️ I didn’t trust myself to not be doing.
I didn’t trust myself with myself.
Well, I was inspired to write this as I sat down to eat some brunch that I made for myself, eating food that I wasn’t allowing myself to eat a year ago, reading + relaxing after playing with my dogs + laughing.
There’s music in the background + I was dancing around my kitchen.
And I thought… Fuck. This is so good. And year ago, I would’ve gotten up, resentful + in pain, eaten something mindlessly + started working.
Not because anyone said I had to, but because I was afraid of who I’d BE if I wasn’t DOING.
I know you get it. And maybe think this sounds good, but you’re managing just fine.
I was badass.
A bad ass who was slowly destroying herself + calling it service.
In the meantime, you keep calling it what helps get you through the day + you call me when you’re ready to step out of force and into your authentic power.
I spent much of my life rushing to a finish line that didn’t exist + while missing the journey that did
I was working for my worthiness like it was a thing waiting for me at the end of my never-ending to do list
Earlier this year, my body let me know she was done tolerating what she’d been tolerating (amazingly well!) for so many years
She got sick
My diet had to be completely overhauled, I was in adrenal fatigue + I was realllllll close to walking myself right into an Autoimmune Disease
See, one of my programmed patterns is to fight — push though
If you’re like me, I know you get it
I learned this probably in a similar way you learned it…
By watching + listening to my parents, teachers, leaders + society in general preach the “Work Harder! Do More! Perform Better! Be Stronger! Win at all costs! There’s only ONE seat at the table!” battle cry
But the ones who sacrificed the most…
They never really won or got that seat because the game they were playing was unending – never over
But that didn’t stop me from trying to be the ONE – the winner they spoke about
☝🏻 F * * K T H A T
I could have killed myself and our “perform for your worthiness patriarchal culture” would have stepped right over my dead body + kept on moving
➡️ l needed to learn that I already had that seat I was hoping to earn
➡️ I needed to learn to choose me instead of waiting to be chosen by them
➡️ I needed to learn that getting things done was more important than me doing things
➡️ I needed to learn that collaboration is better than competition
➡️ I needed to learn that a table with only one seat is a table built on fear
➡️ I needed to learn that rest is as — if not more — important than work
➡️ I needed to learn how to slow down
➡️ I needed to learn that it could be safe to slow down + I needed to do the work to make it safe in my body
☝🏻 Those are practices
Those are practices I practice daily + they are practices I share with the entrepreneurial women I coach
Look, I get it
It’s hard to relax
You feel guilty + lazy because there’s so much you should be + could be doing
And even on those days where you do choose to take it easy you end up feeling worse than you did before you took the day off so you promise yourself you won’t do that again anytime soon
You tell yourself that you’ll rest after this thing is done or after you take care of this one more task, but there’s always one more task
You tell yourself + others that you’re at the bottom of your to do list when the truth is you’re not even on it
I know what you’re afraid of
👉🏻 You’re scared if you stop you won’t start up again
👉🏻 You don’t trust yourself or your body
👉🏻 You’re afraid of losing your edge
It makes sense
After all, this work ethic is why you’re so successful
(or maybe I’m the only one who thought those things + felt that way)
The truth is, my work HAS changed
No longer do I subscribe to the belief that hard work itself makes me intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward <– as the definition of work ethic explains
That doesn’t mean I don’t work well – I do
Since making these personal transformations…
✅ I’m more productive
✅ I’m more focused
✅ I’m more creative
✅ I’m more inspired
✅ I’m more organized
✅ I’m more fluid
☝🏻 And that’s not all…
✅ I begin my days with me, not with work
✅ My sleep patterns + sleep schedule are more consistent
✅ I have created + upheld boundaries around my time + my calendar
✅ I say “No” without apologizing, guilt + self-shame
✅ I go on weekly dates with my wife
✅ I play with my puppies
✅ I go for walks
✅ I take breaks + naps
✅ I practice yoga
✅ I practice meditation
✅ I have created rituals I use throughout the day that allow me to remain in the present moment
✅ I’ve stopped multi-tasking (as much 😉)
✅ I am doing what I want to do
✅ My body is healthy
Friend, if you’ve got yourself convinced that your unrelenting discipline is serving you, I get it
For years you could not have convinced me otherwise + I have no interest in convincing you, but if you’re tired of feeling exhausted, tense, resentful, stressed out, anxious, secretly out of control while pretending to be in control, overwhelmed + in pain, comment below or send me an email
There’s another way
the problem is, most of us ignore them because they are so accepted and expected that we don’t recognize them for the red flags they are
it’s called being an adultwe saypull it togetherput your big girl panties onjust do itwhat’s wrong with youwe askso-and-so has it worse than youyou’re so lazy
it’s not that badeveryone i know is friedi’m too busyi don’t have timetoday is the ONLY day to get things donelook at our to-do listhe needs methey need meshe needs meit’s finei’m finei’m fine