Talking to Aggie this morning, she had one of those incredible moments where she realized how far she had really come on our journey together. Once upon a time, Aggie was a classic people pleaser who lost herself in other people’s needs.
Always putting herself at the bottom of the list, when Aggie first came to me she had no idea who she was and what she wanted. All she knew was that she felt stuck, depleted and unsure how to dig herself out.
Like so many of us, Aggie had spent years looking after her family, friends, her co-workers – always selling herself the story that she didn’t really need that much. She claimed that she took more joy in giving to others than she did herself.
And her family, friends and even co-workers relished in Aggie’s reliability. She was always the first one to step up, help out and even lavish others with thoughtful gifts (nothing too extravagant – but always letting you know that she saw you and heard you).
Aggie enjoyed being seen as everyone’s go-to gal. It made her feel good. But, at the end of the day, she would come home – drained. At first, she began to wonder if something might physically be wrong with her, but after tests confirmed she was in perfect health, Aggie started to hear the quiet whispers of dissention within her.
She started to realize that after years of holding others up she didn’t really know who she was when she wasn’t helping out.
She started to look around and wonder . . . is this all that there is?
She saw others with incredible careers.
She saw others taking vacations.
She saw others with partners who shared the load.
She was deep in comparison and started to feel dread as she moved through her day.
But every single time she thought about changing anything, she would always feel this tight grip of fear. And although she wanted so desperately to make some change, she would tell me and others – “I can’t”.
“I can’t just up and leave my job.”
“I can’t just abandon my family and go for what I want.”
“We need the money, so right now isn’t the time.”
“There’s nobody to help me.”
On and on, Aggie would share her reasons why she couldn’t even explore a new direction – taking on her current circumstances as immovable facts.
At the same time, Aggie would find herself going deeper and deeper into a sort of despair – one where she wasn’t even sure what was to blame for her newfound dissatisfaction. Was it her marriage? Her job? Her role as a mom?
Aggie was in a pretty dark state when she saw me speak at an event that a friend recommended she attend.
It was there that she admitted she saw her first glimmer of hope. She said that my personal story of always needing to be perfect for others really resonated and made her feel like she wasn’t so alone in her thoughts.
When we began working together, Aggie was initially hesitant to believe that she could possibly find a new way out.
But slowly – session by session – what Aggie discovered is that all of her fears about changing her life were really stories she created to protect herself.
As human beings, we hate change.
We resist it. Push back against it. And even sometimes white knuckle through it.
Aggie was no different. She realized that all the time she was telling herself “I can’t”, what she was really saying was “I won’t”.
When we shut the door on possibility, it becomes easy to get caught up in the stories and fictions we tell ourselves about the condition of our life.
We hold onto nuggets of fear or doubt and take them as truths.
When I asked Aggie to think about what was really true, she could begin to see that perhaps there was a way out. Just that simple question, “what is true?” freed Aggie to look at the things she didn’t want to look at.
She realized she was afraid that if she really chose to leave her job, she would cause her family to be impoverished, her children would starve and her husband would be so angry that he would leave her. She imagined that even if she did succeed at leaving her job and going after her dreams, her family would resent and reject her.
Either way, her fictions weren’t pretty.
But when she looked at if any of her stories were true, she started to see that while things might not line up perfectly, it didn’t mean her life would completely disintegrate.
Go with what’s real.
When we feel stuck, afraid or tell ourselves we can’t, the solution is really about telling yourself the truth. Where are you creating fiction? Are you willing to turn your vantage point around from another angle and look at what’s really happening? What can you do to get help?
If you don’t, it takes change off the table. It keeps you stuck.
You think you can numb yourself from wanting another life.
But the truth is that the truth will always rear its head. And no matter how many Band-Aids you put on your situation, the truth will ultimately show its face. So, the choice is yours, will you find new possibility or will you wait until life gives you no choices and forces you to change?
When it came to Aggie’s situation, she decided that she wasn’t going to wait for change to force her hand. She decided to approach her husband and discuss how she was feeling and that she needed to make some changes in order to find greater happiness.
To her surprise, he was supportive and instead of running away from her (or her running from him), the two were better able to devise a financial plan that would allow her to leave her job in a matter of six months in order to pursue her personal passions.
And while it’s been frightening, Aggie realized this morning - three weeks into her new life now - that all of those things she had imagined might happen never actually did.
Because she was able to tell herself the truth and give voice to her needs, she feels stronger, more confident and worth her own desires. Aggie can even acknowledge how, as much she used to enjoy getting praise from others for putting them first, the joy of being able to go after her own needs is more valuable.
Do you recognize any parts of Aggie’s story in your own? Where do you tell yourself that you can’t change in your life? What possibility open ups for you if you decide it’s time to tell yourself the truth?
Let’s keep this conversation going in my Free Facebook Group, Transform Together. Join us over there and get support from me and others who are willing to help you stay connected to opportunity, instead of staying stuck.
P.S. Are you ready to learn more about how your self-worth might be impacting your life, and your net worth? Take this quiz to find out!