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I would have sworn blind that I wasn’t doing any such thing but that’s the beauty of a powerful question (and why I love coaching); it can bring a surprising level of awareness to our stubborn, habit forming minds. So there the question was – how have you been robbing yourself? ‘No no no no, don’t be silly; was my initial response…

Except…

For a start, I thought I was ‘focussing on what I want’. I’ve always been something of a maverick (and by ‘something’ I mean ‘hella maverick’)… I chose a long time ago not to chase certain things – social status, a conventional career, money, badges of achievement – yet instead of focusing on what I wanted, I was focussing on damage control, apologising to myself for those decisions, trying to future proof myself from insecurity and constantly bargaining with my freedom.

What does this look like? Making decisions to go after ‘what I want’ but then putting all my energy into the peripherals. For example, making sure I have an income from something more conventional so I can have ‘me’ time to work on other things, taking work I don’t enjoy but gives me freedom, not telling people who I really am because they might worry – ‘how is work?’.. ‘yeah yeah I’m doing XYZ and little bit of ABC just for fun’ (when really XYZ can kiss my ass, I’m all about ABC).

How else? I was robbing myself of relationship and being out in the world. Just as I found it difficult to let go of ‘what I know’ in work, so too with relationships. The fear of being adrift kept me tethered to dynamics that exhausted me. I grieved for lost connections like they were all the love of my life! (I’m not talking romance here, this is about all relationships). Even when I was never truly showing up as myself and constantly felt ‘wrong’ in their eyes, I would try to gain approval while reactively refusing to conform (which is the opposite of just being). This was not their fault. If I had been leading the way – honestly, boldly, and lovingly – then I wouldn’t have been so awkward in these connections and I would have made room for intimacy or for the relationships to end sooner. The fear of being adrift, alone, untethered has left me – hmm, adrift, alone, untethered. The IRONY.

And one more thing, while we’re at it. I was robbing myself of wellbeing. So overwhelmed by all the messages about what I SHOULD be doing, with a really strong free spirit, and with loads of stuff to do… letting my mind, body, soul stuff slide. I am really really loathe to say this but I was- and still am at times- robbing myself of consistency, structure, and responsibility. Ewwwwwwwwwwww. I have got old!.. Naaaaaaaaah. It’s OK. I realise that I can bring fun, depth, and freedom into what I need to do for my own wellbeing. Yet I need some security, more space for me to strengthen and find calm. It’s actually impossible to really play and bring myself to the party without it.

So if you are doing any of the following, don’t worry I have an action plan:

1. Tricking yourself into thinking you are going after your goals but actually wasting time trying to stay ‘safe’ while doing it

2. Bringing a limp version of yourself to your community to appease others, leading to the very lack of connection you are running from

3. Sacrificing your own wellbeing because it feels too much like hard work or non-urgent

Then what is my answer? (You may have other ideas, I’d love to hear them!):

Focussing on my light without compromise. This means no more worrying about the peripherals and living only by the answers to the following: What do I really want? Who am I in full power? What do I really need? How can all of this feel satisfying and enjoyable? No more compromising my own energy and light. I think of it like a river – it represents my flow – I want to stay there and not be fooled by unnecessary ‘preparations’ to dip my toe in. This may not always look shiny and bold, sometimes it might mean something more subtle. I’m open to finding the right balance.

So there it is, the beauty of a powerful question and an unexpected response! And the even more surprising thing is that my new business focus is/ was on number three and I was STILL doing it to myself

Thankfully, it has given me a whole new level of understanding to bring with me.

Dr. Helen Johnson

Dr Helen Johnson coaches creative, complex thinkers, and leaders in their field to challenge themselves, be more effective, and lighten up. Through her group programme, Deeper, she offers a way to hone your coaching and personal development skills while also doing the powerful work on yourself.

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