Today I will be sharing something that is deeply personal. In all truthfulness, it’s something that I am still processing and going through. I was thinking twice if I should or should not talk about this, but one of the things that I do know is that there is incredible power in our stories.
Oftentimes, we don’t share our stories because we think it’s something that just is about us, that is just happening to us. And yet, as one of my mentors often says to me, “What is unique to one is common to all.” Even if my story doesn’t look exactly like your story, there may be things in my story that I will share, that may resonate with you or that will lead to some introspection. After much thought, I decided to share it.
I recently had to move house, that’s not really groundbreaking. People move every day, all day, but it was a different kind of move for me because this was the first time ever in my grown up life that I had moved somewhere smaller.
All of my life, I’ve been progressively living the dream, in terms of every time I moved. It was because I was moving to a bigger and a better house. Now as circumstances that have it, there have been delays in the house that I was supposed to be moving into, which you guessed, was a bigger house. It meant that while waiting for the bigger house to be completed, we needed to find somewhere else to stay. We needed to find a place to rent.
We also wanted to find something that was in our new neighborhood so we could start to get familiar with the area. And so I went looking, and oh my goodness was this a feat! There was nothing that checked all the boxes for us. The closest we came was one place which checked many boxes, except one – it was much smaller than where we were coming from. It’s almost a little bit over half of where we were coming from. We knew that all of the stuff that we had in our old place wasn’t going to fit.
My husband said to me, “You know what, it’s only for about a year and a half, we can do this.”
I think he’s secretly been watching Marie Kondo’s TV show, because he said it’s an opportunity for us to declutter. It’s an opportunity for us, as he calls it, to de-junk.
Okay, I thought I could go with that. But secretly, I really thought what would happen was that we would get to this place, stuff wouldn’t fit, and we would get a storage locker to put all this stuff that wouldn’t fit.
But we got to this new place. And my husband said, “Alright, we’re here now. I have one rule: Whatever fits fits, whatever doesn’t fit, we’re donating or we recycle.”
This is what started my problem. As we’re going through all this stuff, I wanted to keep everything. One of the things that I found is that I had stuff I didn’t even know I had. I had stuff that I hadn’t looked at in years. I had clothes that still had the price tags on them that I’d never worn from stores that have long since closed.
So as we’re going through stuff, and he’s like, “You need to get rid of that. You need to get rid of that.”
I found myself getting more and more anxious. I literally felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack with the thought of having to get rid of these things that in my mind I had paid for, that I wanted.
I told him that the reason I have all these things is because I wanted them, and he’s like, “No, it’s time for us to declutter. It’s time for us to make space in our life.”
I literally felt anxiety. I also had the biggest headache I’ve ever had. I had a migraine. I don’t usually get migraines, and I realized that it was the stress of having to let go of all of these things.
That led to me introspecting. Why was I feeling like this? Why did a simple act of donating, recycling, and getting rid of stuff bring up so much fear and so much anxiety? What did it mean?
It was in meditation that it came to me. One of the pillars of WORTHY is Reflection and rest. I was intentional about including that because I realized the power of introspection. I realize the power of spending time asking yourself questions. That’s exactly what I did in my meditation and also journaling. I journaled about why I was feeling like this, and what came to me was something that I thought I had dealt with years ago.
I’ll go back in time, if you haven’t heard my story before. This is where I’ll take you back to the very beginning of my life.
I grew up poor. We were incredibly poor. In fact, in my formative years, we lived in mud huts with no running water, no electricity. I grew up in Zimbabwe.
When I was young, we lived in a place which is a really rural area. That was my upbringing. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, because everybody around me was the same, but we were poor. And through hard work, through effort, through my parents’ sacrifice, we started to create a different life. They started to create a different life for us.
The thing about my parents is that growing up. I thought that everybody’s parents went to night school. I thought that everybody’s parents went to study groups on the weekend, because that was my parents. They were always looking at how they could find ways to better themselves. We raised chickens, we grew vegetables, and we sold them. All of these things just to try and give us a better life.
Over the years, through their hard work and sacrifice, we did start to have a better life. I would say that by the time I was in my teens, we probably lived a lower middle class life. It was great. We had a car, we had a nice house. I went to grade school. But it was always a sacrifice. Money was always tight. Money was always the source of great arguments between my parents, but life was good – at least my teen life was good. I had a great upbringing, and I thought, “Oh, wow, we had made it!” There we were living in the burbs, I thought that life was great… that is until one day, when I was 17 years old.
The bailiffs came and took everything away. Everything. My father had made some very bad decisions, and as a result of those decisions, everything was taken away to make up for these bad decisions that he had made. Overnight, at 17 years old, I went from having this nice life – this lower middle class life – to us literally being left with the clothes on our back. Our home was gone, the cars were gone, everything was gone. I hadn’t made the connection, but that really created a real scarring in my subconscious mind – a real need for me to have or to feel secure.
It wasn’t until I was doing this introspection, I was wondering, why is it so hard for me to just let go of a pair of shoes that I’ve never even worn? It all came back to me. It was such an overwhelming experience of emotion, something that I thought I had made peace with years ago.
I had gone on to be successful, to create a life for myself and my family, to be successful in a corporate career. I’d created businesses of my own – even seven figure businesses. I live in a beautiful home. I’m building a beautiful home. I drive my dream car. And yet here I was having a hard time getting rid of a pair of shoes.
What I understood in my introspection, in meditating over it and really going deep, and journaling, was that this traumatic incident that had happened when I was 17 years old had left me scarred. It had left me feeling I could never be safe, that I needed to collect stuff to keep stuff for me to feel safe. Even though it’s something that happened 30 years ago, I was still carrying it. This was still playing out on a day to day basis in my life. It was the reason that I had such anxiety about letting things go.
And so I really have been, over the last several weeks, working on making peace with it. What action do I need to take? What stories do I need to let go of to allow myself to move forward? It also just really reminded me of something that I want to share with you, which are three key things that came up for me during this time.
1. The fact that no matter how much we discount it, our subconscious mind is what runs our lives.
I think Dr. Wendy Wood says that 90% of what we do every single day is coming from habit or our subconscious mind. Oftentimes, we think we’re making conscious decisions. Here I was, an accomplished woman. I achieved all of these things in my life, and yet, something that happened when I was 17 years old, on a subconscious level, was running my day today.
One of the things that I think that as coaches, we do a disservice to our clients when we say, “Identify your limiting beliefs and let go of your limiting beliefs.” It’s easier said than done. Because if you had asked me what my limiting beliefs were a month before I moved, that would never have come up as something I would have said.
Oftentimes, those beliefs run at a subconscious level, we’re not even aware of what is happening. We’re not even aware that these patterns are running our life.
If you think about the fact that 90% of what you do is being run by your subconscious mind, that’s where you really have to become vigilant about what is making me do what I’m doing – asking yourself the questions.
2. The power is not in the answer, the power is in the question.
So what questions do you ask yourself?
It would have been so easy for me, in that circumstance, just to dismiss it as fatigue. But the fact that I asked myself, “What’s making me feel this way?” allowed me to answer “Ah, it’s the story that I’m still carrying from when I was 17 years old, when I didn’t feel safe. it’s the story that I’m carrying, that it might all be taken away from me.”
Unless you have that moment of self awareness, then you will continue to run the same patterns. I had been obviously running the same patterns for 30 years.
There’s a Bible verse in the book of Job that says, “That which I feared most has come to pass.” In my life, that has played out where I did come close to losing everything in about 2009, where we made some terrible business decisions that led to us literally being on the door of bankruptcy. We’re able to recover from that, but it really made me think if I was, at some subconscious level, playing this pattern of “I’m not safe, I will never be safe, and this is all going to go away and be taken away from me.”
I built this eight figure company, and I think at some level, I felt like any moment it’s going to go away. You attract what your thoughts create. That is the law of attraction. It says that you attract that which you think about. And so if at a subconscious level, that’s the story I was telling myself at any moment, do you see how I attracted that into my life?
It’s really about asking yourself the questions, recognizing that your subconscious mind is incredibly powerful, but also recognizing that you have the power to ask yourself the question to expose, to shed light on some of these subconscious stories that you’re carrying. And when it comes to asking yourself the question, a powerful place for you to operate from is from a place of curiosity – questions like:
- Why do I keep doing that?
- Why does this pattern keep repeating itself?
- Why do I keep being mistreated or allowing myself to be mistreated?
- Why do I keep losing my money?
- Why do I keep attracting bad relationships?
- What is the story that’s underlying all of this?”
When you can go to asking yourself those questions, you start to bring self-awareness to the patterns that you’re running, the stories that you’re telling yourself, because here’s a powerful thing that I have learned: Our lives a story. Every single thing that is happening in our lives, we’re creating a story around it.
Ask yourself the question: why, how, when, where, who, and what.
These six questions really will help start the process of you introspecting. It’s so powerful to ask yourself these questions in meditation and journaling. Write it down. Write your answer, allowing yourself to write from a stream of consciousness – not censoring, just allowing yourself to write because the answers will come to you.
3. Always approach this from a place of kindness
We’re carrying these stories that often have been triggered by traumatic events in our lives. Very often, we carry such judgment of ourselves. It would have been easy for me to beat myself up and say, “You’re dumb, you know you’re better than that,” but that’s the conscious me talking.
The only way that you can understand your stories at a subconscious level is from a place of curiosity. You cannot be curious, and also be in judgment of yourself.
Allow yourself not to judge yourself, that ultimately is what we’re taught in meditation. Meditation about being is about being non-judgmental. It’s just about observing, asking the questions. Why is this happening? What does this mean? Why do I keep doing this? How is this impacting my life? All of these questions that you can ask yourself, but not from a place of judgment, but from a place of curiosity, from a place of being kind to yourself, from a place of understanding.
If I knew what my limiting beliefs were, I would let them go. But understanding that oftentimes the patterns that are running in our life are at a really deep subconscious level.
Even though over the last several years I’ve been doing a lot of introspection and working with coaches and mentors, there still were more stories that I was carrying, and I didn’t even realize that I was carrying them. I understood that we are like the Russian dolls, the ones that where you take one off, there’s another doll underneath. We’re layered. There’s so many layers to us. Just because you’ve done the work once doesn’t mean the work is done.
The same story may show up in a different way, in a different guise. We must be vigilant, and to do that is asking yourself the questions, and knowing that the language your subconscious, mind speaks is feeling.
When you feel a certain way, that is your subconscious mind speaking to you, telling you that this is something you need to be aware of, and then have the courage to go and do the work – to be aware, to introspect, to investigate, all from a place of curiosity.
Sandra has a podcast episode on this topic in the WORTHY Podcast:
You can also watch it on YouTube: