I thought I was done with the story I made up about not being good enough a few months ago. After years of digging in my soul to get to the very root of it, I thought I had finally reached that place. I know it’s popped up from time to time – hey, I’m human – but I really thought I had processed all the way through the yuckiness; until this past weekend.
Even without reading the entire email invitation, I quickly replied YES! after reading the words, “Dear Susan, I invite you to consider joining me for….”. That’s all it took for me to say YES, I will join you for Aurum Leadership’s Inaugural 4-day retreat. I didn’t need to know anymore!! I knew Deepika would be leading the work. I knew I loved her and wanted to learn as much as I could from her. I knew it would be an opportunity to have breakthroughs in my life. Only after I replied YES, did I actually read the entire email and look at the calendar.
It was exactly as I thought it would be – MAGICAL! The location was a bit of a dichotomy. Gorgeous, newly renovated, very modern loft in an old cigar factory nestled in a not-so-good part of town in Oakland. The gorgeous brick façade was an indication of the space inside. Clean lines, open ceiling, ample space that lent itself very nicely for the embodied work of the 4-day retreat.
I recently wrote this for one of the workshops I will be leading at the Gurian Summer Institute, “Body, mind, and soul are not three isolated systems. They are three systems intricately woven together that give us the human experience.” These words came to life in Oakland in a way that I had not previously experienced.
I have had the experience of feeling not enough – I’ve shared that with you before. As I processed through those feelings, I did the work I needed to do to come back to center. To recognize my inherent worthiness and to remind myself that everyone is entitled to their opinion; it’s what I do with their opinion that matters. I can either take it to heart and make it mean something for myself, or I can recognize that it’s about them, not me, and make it mean nothing.
As I did the embodied work at Aurum Leadership, I experienced ‘feeling’ enough in a whole new way. I also experienced the deep sadness and shame that comes just before, when I awakened to the pain of self-betrayal. When my inner child felt the visceral pain of really understanding the impact of the words ‘not enough’. The visceral pain that came from betraying myself in such a way that I had not honored the truth of who I am, believing that I was sub-par. Believing that I had to DO in order to be liked, or fit in, or be lovable. I could feel my heart squish, my inner child cry out loud, at the very notion that somehow she was flawed and unworthy of being herself. For the first time in 15 years of my transformational unfolding, I have embodied feeling I am not enough and I AM ENOUGH.
Though I believe self-betrayal to be worse, feeling betrayed by a family member is a close second; especially one you’d consider to be like a parent. Because you see, as kids our parents are our first loves, our first teachers, our first adventure guides. We strive to have their attention and love, and of course we strive to make them proud of us.
And then something happens. We give that event meaning and create beliefs about ourselves from those meanings.
I wanted nothing more than for him to hear me. I wanted nothing more than for him to believe my pain and have some compassion. I wanted nothing more than for him to TRY to make things better. To try to help mend broken hearts. I wanted to be seen and heard and taken into account. I wanted to know that what I had to say meant something to him. That he cared and that he loved me.
I got none of that. What I heard were a bunch of excuses. What I heard was an arrogant message that what I had to contribute didn’t matter and no matter what I said, it was not anything he was interested in listening to, let alone consider.
As I heard his voice, I tuned into my body’s reaction. I could feel my body deploy the ancient fight or flight response. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand; I could feel my heart race, my palms get sweaty, my throat go dry. I could feel my chest tighten as I began to hold my breath in preparation for what was to come. I could hear the child inside me get louder and louder, feeling like she had to yell to be heard,
‘WAIT. PLEASE LISTEN TO ME. I NEED YOU TO HEAR ME’
….and then, in a fraction of a second, I exhaled. And then I took a deep breath and exhaled again. And in that moment, I choose to respond rather than react. I chose a new, created path, rather than a default path born from hurt, rejection and feeling alone.
I felt betrayed again by someone who I loved very much. This time, I would not let it be about me. This time I would not allow myself to feel suffocated by the pain of abandonment. This time, I knew it was about him and his unwillingness to be open to me, my thoughts and feelings.
Instead of getting louder, I got quiet. Instead of yelling to be heard, I remained calm and grounded. By being connected to my inner wisdom, I realized that his acknowledgement of me didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered, was my believing, my knowing that the truth of who I am is enough with or without his love, acknowledgement and consideration.
This story could have a very different ending. It could have ended more like it started 5 years ago. It’s my choice to let go of needing to be seen by him. It’s my choice to express gratitude for the lessons he’s taught me – that which I am willing to allow in a relationship and that which I won’t tolerate. It’s my choice to let go of him and the feelings that come along with not being seen by him; not being heard by him; not being loved him.
I have felt both ends of the spectrum, and I can say with certainty, feeling my true self, knowing I am enough, is the ONLY way to live the rest of my life.
Deepika, you were with me when this chapter in my journey started. You are with me now as it completes. Thank you for teaching me the importance of the embodied experience. I think I have finally learned this lesson! I will forever be grateful.
For more information about Aurum Leadership click HERE
I will be sharing more of myself, my journey and strategies at this years Summer Institute. I hope you will join me, Dr. Gurian, and all our presenters at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad. The weekend will be a great learning experience, and we will have some good laughs – I have so many funny stories to share! Join us for this opportunity to continue exploring how we can best support our children and students—and in the process, ourselves.
The Heart of the Matter: Setting the Stage, with Susan Jentzsch and Michael Gurian. Body, mind, and soul are not three isolated systems. They are three systems intricately woven together that give us the human experience. In our culture now, our children’s bodies, minds, and souls are experiencing significant stress. This opening workshop and interaction will link our weekend training to the deep issues of our time in schools and neighborhoods.
Survival Skills for Girls in STEM: What Women Need Girls to Know, with Susan Jentzsch, Summer Institute Director. Co-Author of the Teen Leadership Forum, Susan Jentzsch is a teen coach who has developed a master program for mentoring teen girls. Women are constantly stressed by cultural norms they can barely keep up with. Many girls and women are in a constant internal conversation about unworthiness and not being good enough. Female physical and mental health suffers, relationships suffer; girls lose sight of their sense of identity and purpose. Susan, formerly of Qualcomm, Inc., spent 20 years in the private sector. Her workshop not only provides insights into how girls can prepare for STEM professions but also how to help girls successfully navigate leadership and personal goals in fluid and competitive schools and STEM workplaces.
The Body and the Brain Do Keep Score, with Susan Jentzch. Scientific evidence proves that stress not only clouds our mental capabilities but also manifests in the body. Thus, identifying and working through stress is vital to a school’s cultural climate especially where bullying may have occurred and in schools where student performance pressures mount. This workshop will help participants:
- Identify stressors in themselves and their students
- Work through the discomfort of stress and help their students do the same
- Identify the ‘stories’ of each situation and interaction
- Deploy methods to help students remain calm
- Deploy techniques to help adults respond authentically to the stress.
He Said. She Said. Strategies for Working Together in Male/Female Teams, with Susan Jentzsch. Based in Susan’s three decades in the workplace and Michael Gurian’s Leadership and the Sexes, this workshop helps women and men work together in teams. It explores the science of gender and negotiation; improving meetings from a gender lens; communication skills between women and men; and practicing gender intelligent mentoring, coaching, and conflict resolution. Men will learn how to best support women by offering what is required to help them feel successful. Women will learn how to complement male performance in their own unique way to create a powerful team with diverse thoughts and behaviors.
It takes a village. I hope you’ll join ours. Together we will make a difference!
Until we meet again,