I felt my anxiety increase as I walked to the front of the conference room.
I had delivered huge presentations throughout my corporate career and never suffered from "stage fright." I had always been of the opinion if you were well prepared, had a strong grasp of your material, and spoke authentically and from the heart, you couldn't go wrong as a speaker.
But as I prepared to deliver the proverbial "State of the Union" address on our cluster's performance in front of my co-workers and the President of our company, I wanted to hide in a corner.
Because I felt like everything that was about to come out of my mouth was total bulls**t.
Having only been with the company for 3 months, my boss gave me the main talking points he wanted me to cover. I was instructed to talk about how we were the most innovative cluster in the whole company. I was told to talk about how we moved quickly and boldly to seize competitive opportunities. I had to talk about we had the best top to bottom team in the industry.
Of course, those all looked great on paper. But none of it actually felt true to me.
In my experience, it was a stagnant, linear culture where people resisted change by saying "this is how we've always done things." Seemingly simple decisions were debated for weeks on strategic conference calls where nobody ever made a decision. While we had some incredibly talented individuals on the staff, many were put into roles which were not a natural fit for their abilities and skill set.
Nevertheless, I knew what I had to do to make us look good in front of the President. I played the role of salesman and delivered the speech with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. And when it was over, I felt gross. I felt like a paid liar.
Now I coach people from all parts of the globe who tell me they feel the same way. Many feel trapped at a company which isn't aligned with their core values. Although their souls are crying out to do something more meaningful, they hide their truth and "play the game," content to cash the paychecks and present an image of success on social media.
If any of this resonates for you, I'd like to offer you a bigger picture view today. In fact, I would suggest your work frustration could be a symptom of a much deeper issue.
What I have found to be true is each of us has some level of fear about being seen for who we truly are.
When you think about it, most of us were conditioned from an early age to lie to get love and approval. It can happen in a variety of ways. Perhaps you heard a few of these comments from your parents or teachers growing up...
- Stop crying...You're acting like a baby! (AKA- being vulnerable makes you "weak").
- Don't tell your father/mother that ____________. They're going to get angry! (AKA- expressing what's true for you will result in emotional or physical punishment).
- Don't talk about what you accomplished. You don't want to look like you're bragging! (AKA- Dim your light to make others feel better).
- You can't do ___________ for a career! Nobody makes money doing that! (AKA- Follow in your parents' footsteps rather than forge your own path).
The result over time is your level of self-expression becomes based entirely on the reactions you anticipate getting from others. In fact, you may throw your needs out the window entirely to feel safe.
This will sabotage you from bringing your purpose to life and keep you trapped in a career you don't love. But it will manifest in other areas too. Many couples go to counseling because they need a third party in the room in order to speak their truth in a relationship. When we don't feel safe to self-disclose, it generally ends in low-level depression or anxiety... which is an awfully big price to pay.
Let's make an agreement that this pattern ends today.
Could you give yourself permission to tell the truth with love and let the chips fall where they may?
Note that I said tell the truth with love. This doesn't give you permission to verbally berate others and blame them for your problems. It doesn't mean walking into the office and telling your boss how you think they're an S.O.B. Nor does it mean telling your partner they suck because they didn't give you what you wanted.
It simply means taking a moment to express how you feel and asking for what you need from a heart-centered place. This will require three things, all of which are simple. None of which are easy to practice.
- You actually have to FEEL your emotions. This may feel scary if you grew up in a home where you were told you were wrong for feeling a certain way. However, you can't process your emotions until you give yourself permission to fully feel whatever is coming up for you. When is the last time you sat in silence and allowed yourself to feel without trying to numb out the negative emotions with a glass of wine, netflix, or scrolling through Instagram? What if you gave yourself 30 minutes today to try it?
- Take ownership of your emotions. Whether you are feeling angry, sad, jealous, abandoned, or simply unworthy, it's not a reason to judge yourself. It also doesn't have to mean you will feel that way in a year or even 10 minutes from now. Just accept whatever comes up as what is true for you in this moment.
- You actually have to express your emotions. The only way to get your needs met in any relationship is to ask for what you need. A recent client of mine came to me burned out in a job where she was making amazing money, but feeling overworked, unfulfilled, and missing out on time with her daughter. We worked through her blocks and she worked up the courage to sit down with her boss. She submitted her resignation and gently explained why she was leaving. He listened--- then he doubled her vacation, told her she could leave the office by 3pm each day, AND gave her a pay raise. None of this would have been possible if she didn't have the courage to speak up for herself.
Of course, this doesn't mean the other person will always agree and give us what we want, but once you find the power to speak up on behalf of your soul's deepest desires, you can also find the courage to walk away from any person, job, or thought process which doesn't contribute to your overall health and emotional well-being.
When you allow yourself to be seen, you take back control of your life and attract more people who believe what you believe. You are loved for who you are, because you allow yourself to be seen for who you are.
Now over to you!
Is there an area of your life where you have felt like you're lying to gain approval? Are there needs in your career, family, or relationships which aren't being met? What would you ask for if you felt completely safe to speak your truth?
Today is a great day to find clarity and take action. Start by commenting below and sharing what comes up for you. As always, I'm right here to personally respond to your message and offer support as you begin to create more of what you really want.