This is a deep topic and it highlights the one area that holds most women back from reaching their greatness.
Through sharing her story, Kaya Singer talks about that one thing that keeps you from stepping into that place where you can reach the success you envision. There is nothing more painful than wanting something for yourself and yet, watching yourself fall apart- just on the verge of grasping it.
If you’ve started a business you’ll know what I’m talking about and will love this episode.
The only way to share about this is to share one of my many stories that illustrates this. ok- its a bit embarrassing to be so transparent about my mess-ups and challenges but this is what women do. Right?
We sit in circles and share with each other. So I’m going to just imagine I’m in a circle with all of you right now.
I was in Portland airport ready to get on a plane and fly back to New Zealand- my heart home, to teach a 4-day workshop. It was a big deal and I had called on all my power sources to support me in this journey. It might not seem like a big deal to you, as people fly all over the world to work and teach, but for me it was huge as I had just turned 60 and for some reason I felt more fragile, less robust.
It might be because of my chronic knee pain that was getting worse. Who knows but those olden days when I was a free spirit in Haight Ashbury, staying up all night and sleeping in Gold Gate Park all afternoon, seemed far away, like in another world.
I went up to the counter to check in and was told I was too late. They required me to be there three hours ahead and I had missed the deadline by 15 minutes. I was in shock. The man was staunch and wouldn’t budge.
I wandered away from the counter in tears. I felt like a pathetic old woman in that moment and felt I’d hit a wall and maybe this was a sign I needed to cancel the whole trip. Yet, I thought about not showing up for my workshop and I couldn’t cope with that thought either. I sat on a chair in tears, and had to make a decision. Do I give up and go home and quit or do I call in the spirit of my invincible 30 year old and the divine goddess, and find a solution. I breathed and started making phone calls to different airlines so I didn’t have to walk through the terminal (remember my knees). Yes, United Airlines had a connecting flight to LA and I could still get on my plane to NZ that night. It cost me a bundle of money to get on that flight. Yes, the goddess uses credit cards too!
While on that plane I had time to recover from the ordeal. I felt like this was a test of belief in myself and that if I had given up, it would have been a downward chain reaction. It was a test of belief in my spirit too and the power of my emerging wise woman, and somehow I didn’t totally collapse. Instead I just felt stupid and berated myself for not realizing about the three hour requirement. “How could you be so inept?” and other self-abusive words, until the goddess intervened again and pulled me out of the hole. I realized I needed to learn to believe in myself all over again.
Certainly it was hard to have that situation at the airport, but at one time I wouldn’t have crumpled. I would have immediately looked for a solution, minus all the emotional meltdown that tagged along. It had happened to me in Mexico one about 30 years ago. My goodness- these kinds of things happen in airports worldwide. It’s a drag and inconvenient, but not the end of the world. But I took it personally and felt I had been punched in the gut and it added another nail in my coffin of feeling like I was now too old to do this.
I had to figure out what it meant to be a powerful older woman entrepreneur. I certainly didn’t want the other choice.
What had happened is that I had an encounter with the wounded healer. In a literal sense I am not a healer but I help people via my work. The pains and struggles we face and conquer make us stronger in ourselves and more able to help others. So here I am years later, using this story to help you understand. I am so much stronger now and that woman who collapsed in the airport is gone now and transformed from the experience.
I think all of you women entrepreneurs regardless of your age, face this wounded healer part of yourself over and over. It usually appears as self-doubt and it can stop you dead in your tracks. It includes not feeling like you are good enough, smart enough, deserving enough, strong enough, etc. All those areas that zap your self-esteem and make you feel like you should just quit.
There really isn’t anything wrong with self-doubt, It happens, but the wounded healer takes you down a deep hole, like Persephone going into the underworld, and that self-judgement just makes the hole deeper and the wound bigger. Most women plummet when self-doubt arrives. It can feel like running straight into a wall and smashing against concrete. It hurts and it feels like the portal is closed to you. It can feel like there is a doorway there but it’s not yours. You have to be somebody you’re not in order to pass through it. I write about self-doubt a lot.
It’s not because I am obsessed with this topic. It’s because it comes up all the time in almost every client I work with. She is always there, like the wicked witch of the west and it’s up to you to confront her, turn on the hose, and allow her to melt away. It is one of the first things new small business clients share weigh me when they call out for help, regardless of how long they have been in business. Self-doubt can feel like a parasite that gloms onto your body and short circuits your wiring. By the way, this isn’t a comparison thing with men. I know about the theory that men tend to be over- confident and women under-confident. But women aren’t competing with men in their business, or with other women. There is enough room and enough clients out there for anyone to be successful.
Now that I am in my wise woman years, I still get self-doubt moments but much less often and its not so debilitating and it doesn’t last long. In fact, that trip into the underworld wakes me up and when I re-surface I have new awarenesses. It can be an empowerment ritual. I’ve done hundreds of these kinds of rituals with women. The only real reason to face this issue is because it will hold you back in your business success. It will keep you staying small where it’s safe. There is a big difference between doubt and self-doubt. Doubt can be good. It might truly mean that something isn’t a good idea. Self-doubt is you doubting yourself and your ability.
Self-doubt leads right into fear and panic and you might feel:
• I’m not good enough or smart enough.
• No one will want to hire me because.
• I will fail and look bad!
• It’s too overwhelming.
• People will think I’m stupid
• It’s all to hard.
Maybe you are like I’ve been and have wasted so much energy and time holding yourself back, feeling not good enough, not perfect enough, and not trusting yourself to take risks. When I think back at all the hours I wasted worrying about whether I was good enough or comparing myself to others who I thought were better, or not taking risks, I cringe! What a waste of energy when I could have been so productive in my business and doing the good work I was meant to do in the world. You might watch yourself being afraid to do something until you are 100% sure its right – whatever that is.
The problem is, it never feels right enough and no matter how sure you are, there is always someone who will not like it. The irony is that when you run a business, you have to take risks, experiment, be seen, speak out; all those things that challenge your confidence. Sometimes you have to be messy and “good enough!” Unfortunately it is a part of our inculturation as females that we we tend to internalize mistakes, thinking we aren’t smart enough or we are a disappointment to someone. This can really slow you down because running a business involves “mistakes” every day!
What I have been teaching entrepreneurs all these years is to be authentic, show up fully in whatever you are doing. It will make sense later. Because I overcame that challenge in the airport I went and taught the 4 day workshop. As a result I made a contact with someone who asked me to come back and do more teaching. Plus a couple people in that workshop hired me for 1.1 coaching.
Eventually everything you do will integrate and make you the amazing person you are. In order to feel more empowered, you need to stay focused on where you are going, keep your energy moving, and have consistency. Your emotions are important and will be a pathway to empowerment as long as you don’t crumble. Here are three things you can do when faced with any horrible situation like mine.
1.Be a witness to your emotions. Notice how you feel and say, “ah, I’m feeling scared, angry, or whatever.” Just observe and acknowledge. Your mind is also strong and caring and can help you to see it from other perspectives. You can be scared and not scared at the same time. You can have self-doubt and also feel clear and empowered. You can chose to acknowledge the strong emotions as well, and this will help you be more in balance.
2. Don’t make any major decisions when in the middle of an emotional reaction, regardless of how you feel. Important decisions need to be made from a place of calmness and strength.
3. Find someone to talk to. Often when you speak it out, in that very process, you will begin to feel stronger and in fact, get more on track. By taking to someone you will often be able to take next action steps; make that phone call, or whatever needs to be actioned that day. Besides the very act of contacting someone will shift the energy. Yes, it is possible to feel all your feelings, observe them, talk to someone, be empowered, take action, and grow into being a stronger entrepreneur. I am rooting for you!!
The world needs your wisdom and needs you to stand in your greatness.
I would love your comments!