You gotta feel to heal

I once heard grief is like a thumbprint. That no two are alike.

Now, more than ever, I really get that. 

Grief is different for everyone.

Kerry Hanna Coaching grief is like a thumbprint After losing my mother a few months ago, I began my own roller coaster ride of grief.

Sometimes I felt terribly sad. That she, my one and only mother, had permanently left this world. 

I didn’t care that she was almost 92. And had lived a long life. She was still my mother. And she was gone. Forever.

How could that possibly be? It shocked me to my core. And hurt like hell.

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Letting go of my mother 

Today I took a magical walk with a sea otter. 

I was out on the seawall in the a light spring rain thinking about my mother. Contemplating what was going to happen to her. 

I’d just visited her a few days prior and knew in my heart she was not long for this world. 

My son and I had gone to see her in the care facility she was living. We were shocked by the rapid decline she’d made since our last visit.

Her face looked gaunt and hollow. Her body frail and weak. Her skin ever so pale and delicate. Deep down some part of me knew that she was finally giving up the fight. 

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The truth will set you free

The other week I had an epiphany.

It was time for me to tell the truth. The real truth.

I’d been holding onto something that I needed to share. For the sake of my own sanity. And my health.

It’s ironic really.

As a Certified Life Coach it’s the last thing I’d recommend anyone do: hold onto a secret. Especially one that’s slowly eating away at you.

Like all secrets tend to do. Just as mine had been doing.

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The power of knowing your superpowers

Do you know what you superpowers are?

The gifts you were born with that make you uniquely you? The ones you were meant to share with the world?

Recently I was reminded of mine. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

I was in the middle of a challenging situation with a colleague. I was feeling criticized and dismissed. As though I was just a number. A cog in the wheel. Nothing special.

The exact opposite of how I believe we all deserve to feel.

As a result, my confidence was taking a hit. I began second-guessing myself . And everything I said or did. I felt like I was walking on eggshells (always a bad sign for a recovering people-pleaser like me). I knew I was not acting in alignment with my true self.

My intuition was on high alert. My brain began screaming “danger, danger, pay attention!”

So I decided to take a step back and analyze the situation a bit more carefully. To sit with my anxiety instead of run from it. To see what my body – always a barometer for my soul – had to say.

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Am I worthy of love?

A girlfriend of mine recently said something that gave me pause. That perhaps I hadn’t yet found a man worthy of me.

Worthy of me?

What a concept! It seems so basic. Yet I realized as soon as she said it that I’ve actually had it backwards all my life.

I’ve been trying to prove to men that I am worthy of them.

I’ve worked so hard to show them that I’m good, kind, smart, and capable.

And even more, that I’m not too needy, too emotional, or lord help me, too dependent! For fear they would run in the opposite direction.

Ugh. Seriously?! Wtf is up with that?

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Reclaiming my voice

Clarity comes in interesting ways.

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite Life Coaches, Nancy Levin, on Hay House Radio when one of her callers said something that triggered an ah-ha moment for me. And helped me uncover a life-long pattern.

The woman was describing an unkind comment made by a dance teacher she’d had when she was young. It was a thoughtless comment that caused the caller to have doubts about herself and her body image for many years to come.

As the woman told her story I suddenly remembered an incident from my own childhood.

It was a comment made by my grade 4 teacher that ended up having a profound effect on me as well.

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Embracing all of me (even the parts I don’t like)

You’d think I’d be incredibly happy while accomplishing one of my life-long dreams. Well sure, I was happy. But I was also blindsided at the same time by some pretty deep feelings of self-doubt.

Dreams don’t always show up quite the way we imagine.

The journey to my dream started twenty plus years ago when I read a book called Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Barbara Barron and Paul D. Tieger. My boyfriend at the time suggested it to me when I expressed some confusion over which career direction to take next.

OK I’ll be honest. I was actually in the middle of a major identity crisis at the time. After having just quit a very unsatisfying sales job.

When I say unsatisfying I mean it was the kind of job that made me utterly sick to my stomach. Every Sunday night I would anxiously bite off all of my fingernails as I contemplated my upcoming work week (I kid you not).

Clearly I was not born to be a sales person. But who was I and what was I good at? Or more importantly.

What was I meant to do with my life?

That was the real question.

In fact it’s what I’ve always wanted to know. Ever since I can remember I’ve been asking those big kind of questions.

Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose?

After graduating from high school and wandering the globe for a few years, I decided to return to school for a Marketing and Sales Diploma. At the time I believed it was a very good fit for me. I was after all upbeat and people-oriented. And great at promoting things I believed in.

And besides, the personal coaching field (a much better fit in hindsight) was nonexistent at the time. So marketing and sales it was.

But taking a job as an outside sales rep turned out not to be such a great idea.

I hated working alone. Driving around the city. Hauling cumbersome bags of product in and out of my car. And being constantly turned away. Stood up. Or rejected by potential customers.

I was way out of my comfort zone. Waaaay out.

I felt insecure, nervous and completely frazzled most days. Quitting that sales job was a lesson in self-preservation if ever there was one.

During my big identity crisis that followed though, I was completely lost. I had absolutely no idea what to do next.

So when my boyfriend suggested I read Do What You Are to discover the kind of careers that suited my particular personality type best, I gobbled the book up. Then several more on the same subject.

Discovering the world of personality types was a big turning point in my life.

I was introduced to a whole new me.

I learned a great deal about the way I operate in the world. That I get my energy from people and taking action. I love working on teams and need harmony in my work environment. While l love freedom and variety, I also need some structure. And I’m passionate about lifting others up and inspiring them.

Most importantly though I learned I don’t need to be anyone else but me.

That there is no right or wrong way. Or better or worse type to be.

Embracing my own type helped to set me free. To step out of the box. To just be me.

unique red flower like the uniqueness of Myers-Briggs types

Over the years whenever I got off course career-wise (or any-wise for that matter!) I would often revisit those books. And be reminded of who I was at my core. What I was naturally good at. And what I wasn’t. So I could let go of those pieces with relief.

Inevitability I would always feel better.

Fast forward another couple of decades (and a few official Myers-Briggs assessments to confirm my type) and I’m still reaping the benefits.

I know my type (an ENFJ in case you’re wondering) almost inside and out. And I know when I’m acting from my strengths versus my weaknesses. And how to course correct.

It’s been a great self-awareness tool to have. One that has guided me along my path.

And the added bonus?

As I’ve learned about others’ types I’ve become far more understanding. Far more accepting of the differences that sometimes lie between us. Far more encouraging of others to just be themselves.

I knew that one day I wanted to take my passion for Myers-Briggs personality types to the next level. To become a Certified Myers-Briggs Trainer. In order to help others learn what I had learned: how to uncover and embrace their own unique ways of being in this world. And to let go of any self-judgement.

So it was surprising to me that after all these years of loving what Myers-Briggs personality types have taught me, so many raw emotions were triggered while completing certification earlier this month.

Sure there was the fact that the training took place just a few blocks away from my ex-boyfriend’s apartment. Where I’d spent many lovely weekends the previous year. Memories of our time together came flooding back. Along with some intense feelings of sadness and loss.

But still. That wasn’t all of it.

Somehow I’d imagined that sitting in that classroom with 30 other like-minded individuals would completely inspire me. 100% of the time.

That I’d feel on purpose. And would come away from each day feeling rejuvenated and revved up.

Nope. That’s not how it went down at all.

Instead of feeling lifted up and inspired, I often felt insecure and self-critical.

Instead of fully embracing my own natural preferences and strengths, and reveling in my own me-ness, I found myself doing something far less compassionate.

I kept comparing myself to others. And feeling crappy when I didn’t think I’d measured up. 

The very opposite of what Myers-Briggs is all about!

Ironic, I know.

One minute I felt high with excitement discussing a subject I was passionate about with others that seemed equally as passionate about it. The next I felt low with all kinds of self-doubt and self-judgment.

My inner critic whispered: You’re too sensitive, Kerry. Too emotional. You’re not logical and rational enough. You have too much energy. You come on too strong. Why can’t you be more like him or her (pick almost anyone else in the room)?

Ugh. I left one day feeling exhausted and close to tears.

As I sat on the bus home that night I wondered what the heck was wrong with me. Why was I always so darn sensitive, so emotional? So worried about what others think?

Why was I trying so hard to be something I wasn’t?

Why couldn’t I just embrace me? All of me? All of the time?

And then it hit me.

I was once again learning a valuable lesson from the Universe. That we often end up teaching what we ourselves need to learn.

That my greatest gift (and yes perhaps even my purpose on this planet) of encouraging others to love themselves just as they are, comes from my deepest pain.

My own lack of self-love and self-acceptance.

In order to help others love and accept themselves – to embrace their own imperfections and be gentle on their own souls – I have to learn those same lessons myself.

Again. And again.

I wish I could say the rest of the training was a lot easier as a result of that light bulb moment on the bus. And maybe it was a bit.

The emotional triggers still came. As did all of my self-doubts.

But I was far more aware of my inclination to bash myself over the head. And I was far gentler with myself, too.

And maybe that’s all I can ask for.

More awareness.

More kindness to myself in those moments of imperfection, and moments of self-doubt.

And more willingness to embrace all sides of myself. Even the ones that are hard to love.

Especially those ones.

As long as I’m open and willing to learn how to be kinder to myself, I’m moving in the right direction.

(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of an example from your own life when you were kinder to yourself? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.)