This past Monday night I found myself on a call with the beautiful women of our mindfulness program, Reset & Restore, having a conversation about something I want to share with all of you today because I think it’s something we can ALL relate to.
It was the last call of our 4-week program and I wanted it to feel really special, so I had put a lot of time and energy into my plan for the evening. But as the meeting started, and I began to see big warm smiles fill my computer screen, my “plan” quickly began to fade.
I think I feel so “at home” with these women that I subconsciously let my guard down and began to, unexpectedly, share a story I had NO intention of sharing just moments before.
As the words were coming out of my mouth I felt like I couldn’t stop them….it just sort of poured out and once I began I couldn’t go back. We had very quickly gone off track and I was the one leading us there.
The story though was nothing profound. In fact, quite ordinary. And one I think happens to many of us, every day.
Just days before our call on Monday, I had found myself packing for a last-minute trip where I would be spending the weekend with other women I didn’t know.
Most days I pride myself on being confident and secure in who I am, but as I was packing for this trip I could feel my anxiety quickly growing. My mind, and my whole body, felt so overwhelmed as I was trying to decide what to pack, what to bring. Who to show up as.
I felt so much pressure to present myself in a certain way. To look a certain way. To show up a certain way.
I think subconsciously I thought that of course, the other women would be smarter, more accomplished, prettier, better, WORTHIER.
So showing up as just me didn’t feel like enough.
I needed to BECOME someone, so maybe, just maybe…..they’d like me.
It was a whole story I had made up in my head, and I felt so ashamed.
I was not only nervous. But now I was a fraud too.
Here I am, this woman who has been telling hundreds of women, for months, to believe in their worthiness. To see themselves as a whole, as enough, and as worthy of belonging in ANY space.
And yet, deep down, I was struggling to look at my own reflection in the mirror and feel the same.
I felt so ashamed. Who am I to lead anyone on a journey of mindfulness, of worthiness, when I can’t even get on a plane without doubting my own worth?
I didn’t know which feeling was worse – my unworthiness or feeling like a fraud.
Thankfully, I quickly caught myself that morning as I was packing. I stepped back. Took a few deep breaths. And leaned into those incredibly uncomfortable feelings until the stories began to quiet and I could feel my body soften and settle once again.
But that “feeling”, this experience, got me thinking about all the times we don’t catch ourselves. All those times we show up in a space with a certain “energy”, or present ourselves in a way that’s not truly authentic. When we lead with our stories of unworthiness – and how for many of us – we’re so used to feeling this way we don’t even realize when it’s happening. When our egos lead a little more puffed up than they need, trying to protect us, because deep down we’re scared.
I don’t know at what point in our development as women these stories of unworthiness begin to appear. When our own reflection in the mirror begins to cloud.
Maybe it’s because we’re trained from the very beginning of our existence to look outward for approval, for our self-worth, for our value and place in this world. And when we rely on others for that feeling, the ground always feels shaky. We never truly feel safe.
Our stories of unworthiness creep in at the most unexpected of moments.
So it’s a practice of just becoming aware. Softly observing ourselves, with compassion and tenderness.
In so many ways I’m a strong, confident, 42-year-old woman who deep down believes she is worthy. I believe that I belong and that I have so many gifts to offer this world.
And yet, within me still lives this school-age little girl who just wants so badly to fit in. To be told she’s worthy. That she belongs. And that she is loved.
They coexist together.
And the only thing that’s required of me is to see both. Allow space for both.
And when my younger self needs it. When I’m nervous about my trip and packing and wondering “will they like me…..?”
I put one hand on my belly, one hand on my heart, and softly, tenderly breath. And repeat the same words I whisper to my kids as I tuck them in at night.
You are loved. You are worthy. And you belong.
And my friends, so are you.
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Oh Katy, I do this same thing. And when I’m around people that I don’t feel equal to, I have a hard time relaxing and being my true self, like I would if I was around lifelong friends. It’s like I hold back. It’s so weird. However, the more work I’ve put in to know the real me, I feel less and less reserved. But I soooo understand this apprehension. I’m actually having it about the upcoming retreat a little. :/ I question if I’ll be too midwestern-y, too simple, too crass, or make a bad first impression. But, like you, deep down I know that if I show up as the person I am every day in my own life, then I think I’m going to fit in just fine. 😉 Can’t wait!!!