What I’ve learned from my own journey and working with clients, is that to be happy, healthy and fulfilled, it is important to reclaim and “own” all parts of ourselves. One way to do this is to identify and embrace the multiple roles we play.
Here’s a short exercise. How would you categorize yourself? Check each of the following that apply to you: a) Consultant; b) Entrepreneur c) Academic; d) Coach; e) Mentor; f) Manager; g) Executive; h) Mother; i) Daughter; j) Sister; k) Partner; l) Other (please add something if none of the above apply to you or if you wish to add something else)
What thoughts ran through your head as you answered the question above? You may have realized the multiple roles you play in your business and in your life. No wonder you feel like there are never enough hours in the day! You may have identified one or several roles/parts of yourself that you have never really acknowledged or “owned”. Why is that? Perhaps there is a limiting belief you have about that role that you’d like to explore further?
To illustrate the importance of reclaiming and owning all parts of ourselves, I’d like to share with you a personal story. What I came to realize is that I hadn’t owned the fact that I am an entrepreneur until about 12 months ago; even though I have started up and run 2 successful management consulting businesses since the early 1990s and a coaching business since 2008.
For some reason acknowledging and claiming that I am an entrepreneur, never felt quite right. Perhaps it’s because I have worked with a lot of public sector organizations and on projects with disadvantaged groups and regions and I have a strong drive to make a positive difference in the world. When I sat for a while with my feelings about being an entrepreneur, I realized that I have indeed been an entrepreneur since I was quite young. It’s in my blood! My girlfriend and I caught and sold minnows to fishermen when I was about 9. I made bracelets out of shells and sold them. I had a lemonade stand at a young age. From age 9 to 13, I had a card and small gifts business. I would go from house to house, show people my catalogue and invite them to place orders. When they asked me what I was saving for, I said I was saving for my trip around the world. Which, I am pleased to share, I took when I was 30.
So what made me not own up to being an entrepreneur? When I “went inside “ and reflected, one of the beliefs that came up for me is that selling is not positive. I tended to equate it with “greasy, car salesmen” and I certainly didn’t feel I had a lot in common with them! After some meditating, soul searching and journaling, I changed my thinking and beliefs about being an entrepreneur and now see and feel the positive aspects of it. I know that I am here to make a positive difference in women’s lives and when I focus on that it feels much better.
Have you had a similar experience you’d like to share? How did you “own” that part of yourself? Is there a process, tool or strategy you would recommend to others to assist them in “owning and reclaiming a part of themselves”? I welcome your comments below.
For many of us changes, particularly those we can’t control, are stressful and challenging to deal with, whether they be the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or a health crisis. Yet all of these life changes are challenges that may be turned into opportunities.
William Bridges in his book “ Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes (2004), views “change” as situational and external; such as moving to a new city or losing a job. In contrast, he views “transition” as psychological or internal. Transitions, he emphasizes, are the internal work that helps us to reorient and redefine ourselves and incorporate external changes into our lives.
Research and life experience shows that if we don’t do the internal “transition” work, then we often recreate the same patterns in our lives. An example is someone who after 3 marriages, on reflection, realizes that she has married 3 different men who are similar (they may even resemble one another) and has dealt with the same issues in each marriage, never resolving them but rather recreating them and remaining unhappy.
So in order to move forward and be happy and fulfilled, we need to take time in each transition to do the work that will enable us to grow, and change past patterns that are no longer serving us.
How can you embrace a life transition (such as the end of a significant relationship) and learn and grow from the experience?
- Slow down; for example– rather than getting back on the internet and going out dating right away at the end of a relationship, why not take some time for yourself.
- Reconnect with yourself and what you enjoy – Take some time alone to think about times in your life when you felt really happy and alive. Think about things you used to do and haven’t done for some time or things you’ve dreamed of doing but never taken the time for. Begin doing them – start with one activity and notice how it makes you feel.
- Get in touch with and acknowledge your feelings rather than pushing them down and not experiencing them; this is important to begin the process of healing from the inside out.
- Express those feelings through journaling, painting, drawing, dancing, etc.
- Nurture/Pamper yourself – go for a massage; have a bubble bath; do something special for yourself and remember that YOU are special and deserve the best.
- Spend time in nature – go for a walk by yourself in a nearby park or plan a hike with a friend; being in nature is grounding, helps us clear negative energy, relax and clear our minds.
- Exercise – do something physical be it yoga, a swim, a walk or a hike; this helps the energy to flow and also assists in releasing tension, anger and stress.
- Reach out for support – to a friend, counselor or life coach.
If you change your perspective around a major transition and view it as an opportunity for self-learning and positive growth, wonderful things will begin to happen in your life.
How do you react to change? Does it “scare you to death” or do you “thrive on it”? Reflecting on previous life transitions, how have you tended to deal with them?
We welcome your comments and lessons learned. Feel free to share this post with others who you think might find it of value.