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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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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Do less, be more

Why is it that some weeks feel so darn hard compared to others? Everything can be rolling along just fine and then…bam! You feel like a mack truck hit you.

This has definitely been one of those weeks for me. One minute I felt excited and inspired. The next, all bent out of shape.

Strangely enough it all started during an upbeat coaching group I participate in weekly. We were challenged to choose a long-term goal, and adopt a series of dailyradical steps that would move us closer to it. The idea being that instead of just fantasizing about a dream, we would take actual steps towards it.

Sign me up. As a Certified Life Coach I love this sort of thing.

My heart instantly identified my goal: to speak my authentic truth in front of an audience. Yes, that was it! Speaking was something I’d dabbled in and had dreamed of doing more of for years. I welcomed a little kick in the butt to get me there faster.

But that’s when everything went sideways, and my tendency to over-think things got in my way. How could I break that goal down into bite-sized daily, radical steps? I mean, come on….daily?…radical? Yikes. That sounded intense.

The more I thought about it the more agitated I got. How the heck was I supposed to add anything radical to what seemed like an already busy and stressful life?

Between juggling my full-time office job, my role as a single-mom to a 13-year-old son (who suddenly had more extra-curricular activities than I could count) and the first long-term relationship I’d had with a man in over a decade, I had very little time, let alone desire, to add one more thing to my life. My bucket felt full, dream or no dream.

The more I tried to brainstorm ideas, the more paralyzed I felt. My body, always a barometer of my stress level, went into high overwhelm.

One morning I woke up with a brutal kink in my shoulder. The next with lower back and hip pain. And when my boyfriend came over for dinner I found myself snapping at him for no good reason. Ugh. I was starting to feel tired and depleted, and increasingly resentful about the challenge.

Daily, radical steps? I don’t think so.

do less woman on the beach

By mid-week even my regular seawall walk didn’t lift my spirits. The day felt gray and so did I.

Why couldn’t I figure this out? It was, after all, about moving towards a dream. Something I loved championing others to do. What was my problem?

It wasn’t until I finally had some down time (aka alone time, which these days seemed rare) to reflect, that things started to shift. When I got up that day I immediately wrote a list of all the tasks I wanted to accomplish around my home. You know, important things like vacuuming, scrubbing my tub and doing the laundry.

Hmm…..I took a deep breath and put down my pen.

What was I thinking? The tub? Laundry? Seriously? I was exhausted, tapped out and my body hurt. My inner gas tank was on empty. I needed some solid self-care before my body and spirit went down, big-time.

So I made a quick decision. I wasn’t going to do any of those things. Noooo way.

Instead I was going to take a well-deserved me day and do only the things I really wanted to do. Things that filled me up, that brought me joy.

And cleaning the dirty tub was certainly not one of them.

But calling one of my dearest girlfriends? Now that definitely was. Chatting with her is always a soul-enriching experience. Our conversations flow. I feel heard and gotten, and afterwards inspired! This call with her was no different.

Within minutes I realized we were both going through a similar process. As a wife and mother, she was feeling overloaded too and was longing for more ease in her life. Yet she was doing exactly what I had been doing this week: beating herself up for not being able to do it differently. For not being able to do more.

Ouch. I totally got it.

As she and I shared our frustrations we were able to extend to each other the compassion we had not been able to give to ourselves. And to give each other the permission we sometimes need (crave?) from others to let the unimportant stuff go.

Like scrubbing the tub when we’re already exhausted. Making dinner when ordering in would be easier. Or saying yes to a social event when all we want is to stay home in our pjs.

Permission to take a step back when we’re feeling tired, overwhelmed or depleted in order to figure out what we really need. And what would serve us better in that moment. For the sake of our sanity and that of those close to us.

And that’s when I had my light bulb moment.

My coaching challenge from earlier this week had nothing whatsoever to do with adding more to my plate! Instead it had everything to do with moving things off my plate.

That was my daily, radical step. To do less. 

To tap into and listen to my authentic voice, even (especially!) if it was exhausted and cranky. To take things just a little bit easier every day, and find ways to be gentler with my soul.

Now that was the kind of daily, radical step I could embrace.

And doing so would move me closer to my dream of speaking my truth to an audience. Because how could I possibly be authentic in front of others if I hadn’t first learned to be authentic with myself?

As they say: you teach what you need to learn. Clearly this was one lesson I needed to learn. That by allowing myself to do less each day, I would actually create more time and energy to be more authentically me.

(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of a one or two examples from your own life where you’ve learned to do less? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.) 

Step into your "enough-ness"

Recently I heard a woman on the radio use the phrase: step into your enough-ness. It stopped me in my tracks. 

Wow.

Step into your enough-ness.

OK, I get it. What a great reminder for a woman like me, a recovering perfectionist.

And what a terrific book or workshop title. I wrote it down in my journal of great ideas, as I have done so many times before, and then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to today. I was out walking on the seawall, all alone in the rain. It was just me and my thoughts. And my growing anxiety about writing my very first blog.

What should I write about? 

What speaks to me? Comes from my heart? What would resonate with other women?

As my anxiety grew, my thoughts suddenly turned to the word ‘perfectionism’ and how it keeps showing up in my life. 

How my desire to do things perfectly (or to not be seen as imperfect) holds me back.

And how I use my fear of imperfection as a way to procrastinate. To not do the very thing I wish I could do: find my voice. Imperfect though it may be.

How hard I’ve had to work at believing in my core that I am good enough. That I can step into my own enough-ness.

I could certainly write about that.

Truth be told, I have wanted to write a blog for years.

But every time I took a step towards it my inner critics would rise up. And they were very, very convincing.

They would say cruel things like: “You’re not a writer. You have nothing of value to say. Who the heck is going to listen to you?”

And the kicker: “Who do you think you are?”

Ouch.

I thought about all the ways I had blown my blog off.

All the excuses I’d made for not expressing my voice. For not shining my own unique light out into the world.

I thought about all the people I’d believed in, cheer-leaded and coached to follow their own dreams. To not give up. To speak their own truth.

But when push came to shove, I had not been able to do the same for me.

My inner critics had always won. So instead of expressing my voice, I would go underground again. I’d tell myself it was OK. It wasn’t my time yet. Maybe it never would be.

So here I was, back at the starting gate. Back to the blog.

My inner light was craving to be set free, and my inner voice unleashed.

A few weeks ago I had committed to writing this blog on a whim. I promised a dear friend (who’s also my coach) that I would post it by the end of this week. I was excited at the thought of it, and knew I could do it – would do it – this time.

There would be no more excuses.

But suddenly with my deadline looming, I was procrastinating all over again. Same old, same old. I was ready to shove my voice down once more.

I felt sick.

How could I let my coach down? How could I tell her I was throwing in the towel? But even worse, how could I let myself down? Again?!

Before my inner critics won their battle, something else happened. Out on that seawall, today in the rain. Something magical. Something that changed everything for me. And gave me the courage to write.

Up, out of the calm waters, popped a seal. My totem animal. Spirit guide. Inner coach.

I’ve had an affinity with seals my whole life. I see them all the time. And every time I do, I believe they have a message for me.

totem seal representing good enough

So today, in the soft rain, I closed my eyes and asked this seal, this spirit guide of mine, what message it had for me.

Within seconds my answer came: don’t give up.

Keep moving forward, one step at a time. 

My heart lifted. And I realized that I was not going to buy into my procrastination this time. I was not going to listen to my fear. Nor let my inner critics win.

I was going to write my first blog, once and for all, damn it.

So here I am. My first blog is almost done. And like the seal rising above the surface of the ocean, I’m ready to let my spirit free.

I’ve found my voice. And I won’t let it go underground again.

This is my first big step towards embracing all of me. With all my imperfections. I know I will make mistakes. I have before. And I will again. But as they say: go big or go home.

I’m not ready to go home. I just got here.

And after all these years of fear and procrastination, I have finally found the courage to step into my own enough-ness.

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