How fear brought some old friends out of the woodwork.
I spent the weekend at a workshop with a powerful group of fascinating, gorgeous smart, deep, heart-centered entrepreneurial women (and a few brave men). Up and comers who’ll make a difference in the lives around them and the whole damn world. People that you want on your side.
I never imagined that they would scare the holy loving shite out of me.
Many of us had shared an online class given by the ever-brilliant Sinclair (building a sustainable, creative business that fits us perfectly), so I looked forward to meeting them face-to-face, to learn from each other, to connect.
The day before leaving, I fretted about everything. What to pack. What not to pack. Take the train, or not? I hadn’t felt that skittish in a long time. Something was up, but I busied myself getting ready. I didn’t do what I council others to do: to sit with what was really going on inside.
I’m typically quite confident, but I suspect my little ego was already frantic about the exposure to greatness. Would I come up short?
I rushed in. The buzzing in my chest should have been a clue, but I took it for excitement. A friend calls it F.E.A.R.: False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s a cool acronym. I felt the power in the room, and it mattered. I cared, a lot, what these people thought of me. Ironically, the fear (false evidence) initiated some old patterns I thought I’d worked through. Integrated.
Call them archetypes. Dear friends. Characters that I chose for this life to help me get through the rough spots. Last weekend, a few old favorites showed up:
Good Girl. She just fricking wants to be the Best, and she relies on that to get love. She gets straight A’s. She’s perpetually in third grade. She’s quick to feel left out and strives to prevent that at all costs. Which means she is annoying in her strivaciousness.
Good Girl, your excellence has taken me far, but right now you are NOT my favorite. Would somebody please give you a damn Barbie to keep you occupied, so I can get on with being a whole person? < Clearly you and I have some more work to do together.
Platespinner is a performer. He’s a cross between a grade B late-night talk show host and an Italian circus juggler. He’s desperate for attention and will do effing handstands on the moon if it gets him what he wants: to be noticed. To be the life of the party.
Platespinner, your talents are tons of fun and the people who know us well love you for it. But last weekend, you made some totally inappropriate comments in your need to be funny. A business workshop is NOT the place for those, ok? < I humbly apologize for our insensitivity.
Devil Child is dark. Scorpio. He insists that his world be valued and seen, because our world so often pushes it down, rejects it. He’s a perpetrator and his twin is a victim. Has a tendency to see things as a power struggle: who’s on top, who’s not.
Devil Child, you’re mine and I gotta love your honesty. But do you HAVE to bring up such intense negative stuff? In public? And there are other ways of seeing relationships. < Can’t wait to explore this with you in the next social pressure cooker.
Quite beautifully, Sinclair asked us to acknowledge these and other shadow elements that came to the workshop. She calls them leadership traps. Seeing them is a key step. Being able to really step away from them is yet another opportunity.
I’ve spent a ton of quality time with my characters. Guided by the work of Carl Jung and Carolyn Myss, I made a large illustrated map of their influence that hangs on my office wall. I often gather my characters together in an internal board meeting to see how we will approach various challenges.
The thing is, they are always with me. And if I ignore them, they can rise up like Kraken to seriously rock my boat.
Wise One looked on bemusedly and was able to reflect. She kept the balance, if not all the time. And so I met and connected with some truly lovely humans. I hope we will share some of the road ahead.
Wise One, you know that I always pack what I really need, because my tools are inside. The ability to get quiet. To feel my real feelings. To listen deeply for understanding, clarity and next steps. To acknowledge the patterns and move through them to another way.
So how did I forget to reach around and grab them from my backpack? So I could re-member again. And again. That’s the spiral of learning, when we come back around to what we knew before. And it means even more.
Here’s a poem I wrote for my teen girls talking circle. Wish it was tattooed on my arm last weekend.
Just being here is enough.
You are wise, and you are foolish.
You are beautiful beyond compare, and you are as ordinary as dirt.
You don’t have to do – or say – a goddamn thing
To prove you are worthy.
Not to you, not to me, not to anybody.
You. Just. Are.
Knowing this, you can relax.
Knowing this, you can breathe.
Knowing this, you are free.
To. Just. Be.
Have you ever been shocked and surprised by your own behavior? Especially under the influence of fear?
Do you call your inner characters by their names?
I’d love to hear about that. Your comments are organic dark chocolate for the soul.
(Image: From “What Was I Scared of” by Dr. Suess.)