I’m great at keeping promises to the ones that I love, but when it comes to myself, I can’t seem to make it happen.
I really want to do _________, but I’m just too busy.
If I’m really honest, I don’t trust myself to follow through.
When we imagine self-trust, it seems like this enormous, all-encompassing thing that we either have or don’t have. We may look longingly at the few people who seem to be able to follow through with their dreams. We may judge ourselves harshly against their brilliant example – using this as further evidence to support our lack of self-worth.
Self-trust is built upon small moments of showing up and following through.
Through moments of integrity, where your actions on your own behalf are aligned with what you want for yourself.
You are walking through your life making choices everywhere that you go.
What to drink. What to wear. What to say yes to. What to say no to. When to engage. When to pick up your phone to start scrolling mindlessly. When to look your partner in the eye. When to commit yourself to a project, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
If you examine them closely, these choices are either bringing you closer to yourself or further away.
Self-trust is broken in small moments of refusing to show up or actively participate in your life.
The moments when you ignore your intuition, plowing forward out of habit or fear.
The moments when you say yes, but everything in your body wants you to say no.
The moments when you compromise your needs in the name of productivity or external validation.
The moments when you make yourself small to make someone else comfortable.
Breaking your self-trust is a choice.
It is the choice of deciding that something [expectations, beliefs about “success,” praise] is more important than how it feels for you to live within your life, within your experiences of the world around you.
If we were to think about building our relationships with ourselves as if we were building them with someone else, we wouldn’t keep showing up, excited and ready, for someone who constantly disappointed us. We wouldn’t keep calling a friend who never called back. We wouldn’t continually put ourselves through the turmoil of the rejection inherent in being blown off.
And yet, that it is exactly what we expect from ourselves.
We expect ourselves to keep showing up, no matter how many times we’ve been let down or disappointed.
We refuse to do the work and then we chastise ourselves for always being stuck in the same place.
We criticize our bodies, even when we haven’t put in the time to take care of ourselves or nourish ourselves deeply.
We want what we want when we want it, but we aren’t doing the work of showing up.
I will claim this one for myself, as much as anyone else.
I want a finished book. I want it so badly I can taste it. I want to hold it in my hands. I want you to hold it in your hands.
But I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been showing up.
That book is not going to get written in between reruns of Gilmore Girls. And, each moment that I think about myself judgmentally without sitting down to do the work, I am damaging my self-trust. I am beating myself up for something that I have not, in all honesty, been applying myself for.
This isn’t the end of the world.
It is simply an honest conversation with myself about what I want and what I am willing to do in order to make it happen.
We can tolerate the discomfort of our own disappointment.
We can rebuild our trust, one honest action at a time.
A five minute stretch of writing. A walk around the block. A nourishing meal. A compassionate word when judgment is expected. A deep kiss before you head out the door.
Because I want that book, but more than anything I want to be able to have deep, resounding, and unshakable self-trust. I want to believe in my own ability to follow through.
That kind of self-trust is my responsibility. It is my work to craft trust like that. To show up and follow through when I say that I will, and to take action on my own behalf.
That is my work.
Join me to day in rebuilding your own trust.
Join me in keeping one promise, taking one small action on your own behalf.
A year ago, I had started to try to ask for what I needed.
I had started it into conversation naturally, dropping hints or mentioning it whenever it came up. And yet,we were moving and things were stressful and there was so much to do. I had tried to ask, but just the asking was so difficult that it required an enormous amount of energy to discern what it was that I needed to begin with, even before I muttered the words aloud. I asked what felt like again and again, and it still wasn’t getting me anywhere. I felt ignored and looked over. I felt as though I was trying so hard – to be good, to be clear – and that it was useless, because no matter what I attempted, my needs weren’t being met.
I wanted to be open to receive. I wanted to be deserving of the support and acknowledgement that I ached for.
But, each time I put myself out there and my words weren’t met with the immediate validation of gifts and care and love offered, I internalized it, telling myself that I just wasn’t worth caring for.
That night, I was on the floor in the living room as heaving sobs wracked my body. My sweetheart sat still on the couch, not quite sure what to do say or do next. It just started tumbling out of the abyss of my body, old story stacked upon old story.
I am not deserving of help. I know that am not deserving of help, because no one ever helped me.
I am not deserving of help. I know that I am not deserving of help because no one ever cared about me to notice that I needed it desperately.
I am not deserving of help. But, if I never let them know that I was broken open and needing – how were they ever supposed to help me?
Am I not deserving of help?
Through sobs, I began peeling back the layers, putting the pieces into place. I had believed that I was undeserving of help for so long that walking the years back, I could barely believe that it was possible to change my mind. However, as I began playing the moments back for myself, I realized that because I didn’t believe I deserved it, I never asked for help. Since I never asked for help, I never received it. Then the cycle would begin again.
I could remember a moment in my second year of graduate school when I was sitting in my supervisor’s office and I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I was exhausted from trying to anticipate the next move and I was forced to admit to myself that I could not longer keep showing up the way that I had been, riddled with doubt and fear.
“I am falling apart. I need help, but I don’t even know what to ask for.” I said.
She was visibly surprised, gaping at me as if I had said something completely unexpected. In turn, I was surprised at her surprise. Doesn’t she see that I am a total mess?
“Mara, I just find it interesting, because it is impossible to know that you are ever in distress. Your demeanor is so smooth, so perfected. This is the first time that I am seeing a crack in it. If you need help, you need to learn how to ask for it.” She said.
I had held myself together since early childhood, tenderly mending all of my broken and worn parts within the quiet privacy of my own mind. I had held myself together so that I wouldn’t bother anyone. I had held myself together out of the fear that if I were to fall apart, if I were to stop being useful to those around me, that I would have to face the truth that no one would be left to hold me while I stumbled. I believed that I was undeserving of being supported, and so I never opened myself up to opportunities of support. I believed that my utilitarian nature was what attracted others.
I had held myself together, because without what I offered the world around me I believed I was nothing. That without the sacrifice and sweat of showing up, again and again proving my worth, I would be brushed aside. But, I am not undeserving. I am love. I am loved. Even though I had been unable and unwilling to acknowledge it before, I could see how there was evidence there that pointed the the truth that I was loved for who I am and not what I can offer.
For most of my life I had shouldered the belief that I was a burden. And there was no room for my messiness or inconvenient imperfection.
When the layers were peeled back, I was able to see how asking for help had felt like it threatened to my sense of belonging.
Beneath the layers of help and support and witness, was a quiet fear of being cast out of of my relationships for being a burden, for being too much or wanting too much or requiring too much. You are too needy, I would tell myself for simply having needs. You need to much help. It’s embarrassing. You should cover that up, make yourself small, palatable. You should make it easy to be your friend. Making myself small was another way that I had apologized for myself again and again. Making myself small was a small way that I atoned for my inherent badness.
In that moment, lying on the floor of my living room in a mess of tears and snot, I realized that the belief was based on a lie that I had told myself. I had cloistered my true self, my wild self, my vulnerable self, away for most of y life because I bought into the self-fulfilling prophecy that I was creating.
The only truth here is that when we don’t put ourselves out there or ask for support, we don’t receive it. But not receiving it doesn’t meant that we don’t deserve it – not even close.
On her way out the door she said, “Mara, honestly this is the weekend that I have been yearning for my entire life. This is the circle of women that I have been searching for forever.”
She said it and I could feel the depth of her words – the depth of what it means to be surrounded by open-hearted, like-minded individuals. I could feel the deep power embedded in these experiences of belonging and restoration. The way that it opens your entire heart up in a way that you hadn’t thought possible before.
I remember the moment when I hit publish on my first blog post back in 2008, sending it out into the Universe accompanied by the prayer that somehow, somewhere, my people could be found.
The women who who feel like they are too much and not enough simultaneously.
The women who have made themselves small and have spent years apologizing for their inherent lack, but are now trying, humbly and imperfectly, to reclaim their power.
The women who laugh inappropriately when they are telling their most shameful secrets, redefining safety minute by minute while tears run down their face.
The women who want to stay up past midnight talking about the change they are seeking, the beauty that they are creating.
I remember the slumber parties during my childhood that filled me to the brim with glee.
The ice cream sundaes. The late-night viewing of Poltergeist. The oracle boards and rounds of light as a feather, stiff as a board. And, I remember when those girls turned on me, casting me out and reminding me in no uncertain terms and for the first time that I would never be good enough no matter how hard I tried.
I remember carrying the sheer delight of those parties in my heart, tarnished by the pain of what I called Truth for many years: no matter how much they seem to love you, they will break your heart. You don’t (really) belong to anyone but yourself. Have fun, but don’t trust anyone, not really.
And, I remember the moment when I found myself, green-eyed with jealousy and with that sick, hot feeling of shame in my stomach, upon looking at a circle of women at a retreat through their social media posts.
I wanted to be them. I wanted to be with them. I wanted them to reach through the internet and invite me to their party. I wanted them to love me.
Sitting with the power of that hurt and the depth of my longing, I made the decision that I would begin by actively calling the circles of women that I was hungry for.
The ones where you can wear your pajamas all day long and no one things you’re sloppy.
The ones where you are taken are of so sweetly (and completely) that all you get to do is dream about what you want to create in your life next.
Cozy beds. Wild art and the reintroduction to trusting your intuition. Crystals. Altars.Delicious, nurturing food. The sacred mundane of daily divination. And as many hugs as you need.
The opportunity to ask yourself: What do I need? What would feel really good? How do I want to live? How much joy can I allow?
The impossible, yet powerfully real, circle of women at your side.
I remember lying in bed the morning after that first retreat in 2009.
I was forever altered by the experience of sitting around the table with women who were ready to show up fully, ready to allow themselves to build lives of truth and joy.
I could feel myself unfurl within the validation that women like this did in fact exist in the world. That I actually wasn’t an outsider. That I could provide myself this experience and I could curate experiences of deep belonging and wild truth for others. That we could find ourselves here – around a fire, around a table, between hands held and hugs received.
That I didn’t have to keep myself on the outside, looking at the women gathering with me as clients. That around that table we became sisters, friends, and wild women who see our beauty reflected back at us each and every place we look. That my flavor of leadership cultivates and nurtures this deep kind of connection, the horizontal attachment of seeing and being seen.
This is my best work and my favorite work, because I love who I am when I am with you. I love who we become together.
I remember the feeling that this type of experience was outside of what was possible from me. I remember not being able to swing the financial investment, sure, but mostly I remember the heaviness of my own resistance to giving myself the permission to take the time. To carve out the space. To stand in my power and declare: I deserve this. I am allowed to have this. I will give this to myself.
I remember the jealousy and the anger and the righteous indignation. And, I remember how those things didn’t do a single thing for me, but make me feel as though I was on the outside, peering in. I remember making the decision to take a risk to experiment with what might be possible when I said yes to my desire instead of no.
Maybe this is the right time for you, maybe it’s not.
Maybe you would rather figure out how to cultivate a circle of women in your local area.
Maybe this gives you permission to take the jump and say yes to an experience led by someone else.
Wherever this permission slip takes you, know this: Circling live with a community of women will challenge and support and change you in ways that you never thought possible. Belonging will transform you. It will deepen your sense of safety, it will bolster your ability to trust in your own inner guidance, and it will break your heart open, again and again.
And, if this is something that you’re called to, I am here waiting for you with arms stretched open.
Three years ago today, I was working at my last catering gig.
It was a gigantic wedding in a beautiful yard, but it was catastrophic from the beginning – starting with when I had said yes to working the event when I wanted to say no. I said yes, because I wanted to be helpful, I wanted to be a team player. I said yes, because, three years ago, I was more concerned with how others perceived me than how I felt in my own life.
I remember spilling a sauce down the back of a woman’s beautiful silk jacket. I remember the dishes piling up, without a convenient water source. I remember lugging things around, getting progressively more upset and disgruntled as each moment passed.
And, at the end of the night, I remember taking off my waitressing shoes and throwing them in the trash as I walked, barefoot, to my car.
I wasn’t mad at the gig.
The gig was an ordinary disaster, one that I had become lovingly comfortable in over the twelve years of waitressing prior.
In fact, I wasn’t mad at all. I was ready.
Six month prior, I had made the terrifying decision not to become a social worker, a year and a half and almost $80K into earning my social work degree. I had realized that the life that I was building for myself was no longer a good fit for me, and I started consciously moving in another direction – a direction of my very own.
But the readiness that I felt on this day three years ago wasn’t about the preparation. It wasn’t the sparkly new website or the clients that were starting to come my way. The readiness that I felt had to do with choosing to be all in when it came to the life that I was building.
I didn’t have any money saved. I didn’t know how it was going to work out.
What I knew was this…
I wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything before. I wanted it so badly that I was willing to risk the possible heartbreak of failure in order to make it happen.
I wanted to be the beneficiary of my hard work. I wanted to be able to bring all of my creative talent to my daily grind. I wanted to help people – as many people as I could reach.
I wanted the kind of life where I had the freedom to take really good care of myself. A life filled to the brim with rest and love and fresh air.
And, I wanted all of that more than I wanted immediate financial stability. Or a lot of material possessions. Or a career that would impress people at my high school reunion.
For the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to want something for myself – for the health of my bright spirit – instead of wanting something because it was what I “should” do or what others expected of me.
For the first time in my life, my expectation wasn’t perfection – it was the messiness of choosing to become an active participant in my life.
These last three years have been the most spectacular and challenging of my life.
Since officially starting my business as a personal blog seven years ago, I have shown up here in some capacity every single day. Over these years, I have been consistent in my service to my audience, but more than that, I have been steady in my desire to pour all of my attention and my adoration into this dream.
I had never created something that I showed up for so consistently before.
It wasn’t easy. There were many moments of panic and frantic maneuvers to try to make enough cash to pay my rent. I cried every day of every launch that I had for the first year and a half. I got myself some amazing support to help teach me how tobelieve in myself and the power of what I was creating – holding me together in moments when I really just wanted to give up and run away.
Today, as I was smiling to myself this morning, I was feeling really quite proud of myself for showing up and navigating this business these last years. I started thinking about the three things that helped me devote myself to this dream and I wanted to take this opportunity to share them with you.
Also, a note: this is my recipe for absolutely everything – not just starting your own business. Wink.
1. Keep it simple.
It is far to easy to allow yourself cozy up to self-sabotage when you project yourself far out into the future of your projects. You are not going to know what it is going to look like ten years down the line, no matter how hard you think about it.
Instead, pledge to show up, be present, and do the best work that you can today.
Ask yourself: what small action can I do today to get me closer to where I want to go?
Start there. Start with one small action and then another.
2. Decide for yourself when enough is enough – and what your expectations are.
In my two years of business I taught myself to define success on my own terms. When people would ask me what success looked like, I would (not so) jokingly say: “The bills got paid and no body died.”
That right there was what I was aiming for.
Of course, I had other ambitions. I am writing a book. I want to own a house. I am consciously making space in my business and life for a baby. But, I get to choose what success means to me. I check to choose to celebrate the fact that I have worked for myself for three years and the bills got paid and no body died.
In a sea of people ditching their day jobs to make six figures doing absolutely nothing while dancing around the globe, I think that it is HUGELY important to remember that you get to define this for yourself – and you get to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how large or small they might appear if you were to compare yourself to other people.
3. Your business works when you do. You are your #1 asset.
I show up fully when I am well-rested, well-nourished, and making sure to take really good care of myself. For me this includes carving out space for play and making sure to shut down all of my devices to connect with the world around me every so often.
There are many people who would like you to believe that you earn your rest by putting in your time. We live in a society that reinforces that very idea.
But, I want to feel good in my skin more than I want to have cash in my bank account. I want to bring the best of who I am to everything that I do – and I cannot do that if I am burning myself out a little bit more each day.
Fill yourself to the brim, so that you can serve the world from the overflow of your energy. Prioritize your self-care. Put meeting your own needs at the top of your daily agenda.
There is no lack here unless you believe there is.
You will flourish – but your business (and life) will flourish also.
A Thank you
Oh man, I really freaking love you guys.
I love this community. I love creating pieces of writing and e-courses and live events that serve your vibrant hearts – and help you reclaim the power to stand in the middle of your life and create something beautiful all around you.
I (still) spend the majority of my waking moments feeling so unbelievably lucky to get to do this work.
I want to thank each of you you for being such bright light in my orbit.
I want to thank you for showing up for yourself each day. You are making the world a better place, simply by allowing the beauty of who you are to shine through.
I want to thank you for all of your support for me over the last three years – and especially those of you who have been here since I started Medicinal Marzipan seven years ago.
P.s. If you’re aching for the bravery to cultivate a life of your very own with ample space for rest and taking care of your sweet self, I want to invite you to join me next month for The Deep Exhale. I am planning a BIG, exciting surprise for next Wednesday, September 9th when registration opens, so keep your eyes peeled. Whoop!
Today I’m delighted to share this guest post written by the lovely Marsha Philitas.
As you read this post there are liberation movements growing right outside our doors. The Black Liberation Movement and the LGBT movements are calling for us all to examine who has power and why. Protests, campaign disruptions and more are rumbling and challenging the status quo.
As sensitive, caring souls we have a tension to deal with. Our hearts are hurting and grieving right along with the protestors. We hear of the unjust deaths of people like Sandra Bland (a black woman arrested on a traffic charge and found dead in a holding cell 2 days later) or India Clarke (a woman who was murdered for being a trans woman of color) and our hearts feel so much pain that we’re overwhelmed. We want to help with the healing but are so tempted to protect our sensitive souls by turning everything off and tuning out.
Believe it or not, your sensitivity is not a liability in these times. The noise and crowds that come with protests may make those forms of action unmanageable for you, but there are other powerful ways that you can help to bring about justice and equality.
Each movement in history has required both disruptors AND visionaries.
Disruptors help to tear apart oppressive systems that perpetuate inequality. That work is crucial. But after the protest comes the planning. Visionaries are needed to help create the world that will replace the old one. As sensitive souls, this is where we fit in. Our empathy and creativity allows us to see beyond what is to paint a realistic picture of what can be. Your compassion gives your the courage to embody values of justice and equality.
1. Do Your Internal Work
Take the time to evaluate the places where privilege and oppression have taken root in your own life. Where have you benefited from those systems? Be honest with yourself and take stock.
2. Start Reading and Educating Yourself
Inequalities in America are not new and your access to the history of this topic is just a Google search away. Autostraddle.com compiled an amazing list of readings related to #BlackLivesMatter here. It’s a great start.
3. Speak out within Your Spheres of Influence
Bring up #BlackLivesMatter at the dinner table. Share the statistics on the murders of transwomen of color at work. Spread awareness where you can. If you’re an ally and not a member of these groups, this step is even more important. Black and LGBT people are often burdened with doing all the work to increase awareness. It’s an emotionally exhausting, and sometimes unsafe, position to be put in. If you’re an ally, have the strength to use your privilege to speak in spaces where other voices are marginalized.
4. Ampilify the Voices of Marginalized Folks
Were you moved by an article written by a transwoman of color about their experience? Share it. Do you have a role of hiring speakers or arranging trainings at your job? Reach out to consultants of color. Find out who is speaking on these issues and support their work. Give donations if possible.
5. Pressure Your Government Representatives to Make These Issues a Priority
The Black Lives Matter organization and Campaign Zero have both identified key policy demands. Find one you support and write/call/pester your local Congressman to endorse them.
You don’t have to tune out or feel helpless when you hear of injustices. Let your heart guide you to take action and use your compassion to build a better world.
Marsha Philitas helps social justice-minded women learn to balance ambition with ease. Her latest program, The Sisterhood, is an intimate group coaching experience where women heal from the trauma of oppression and build joy-filled lives.