We all have a quest to complete. I know this is true for me and also all the people I have coached over the years. At some point in our childhoods or young adult years, we had some experiences that changed how we saw ourselves. We were told we were not enough—perhaps it was not smart enough, or attractive enough, or good enough—and we believed it.
And since then, we have been living a smaller, less divine version of ourselves. That’s not to say that we haven’t been able to be happy or create a wonderful career or personal life. Most of us have. But there is still a piece of us missing—a part of our self that got lost. Some call it the hole in the soul and we have been spending a lot of time trying to fill it.
What is the old belief that still affects you? Do you have a hole in your soul and where did it come from?
The hole in my soul was that my single mother was abusive. She has her own wounds too and she often channeled her anxiety and anger at me, telling me I was a “horrible girl” and that “no one could ever love you.” Now my example is pretty dramatic. For most of us, it’s more likely to be that teacher who told you that you were not creative or smart. Or that first love who made you feel unattractive or unlovable. And those wounds are no less damaging than mine. If you believe that you are unworthy on some level, then you have a quest too.
Our quest is to challenge that old belief, once and for all, by confronting it and taking our power back.
You see, in all the years I have coached people, underneath it all is that old belief—that moment when you somehow believed what someone said about you. This plays out for all of us in all kinds of ways.
I have seen people build entire careers on (often subconsciously) trying to prove the belief wrong. They think, “How can I not be smart if I have a doctorate/MD/law degree?”
I have seen people pursue all kinds of relationships to prove that they are attractive or lovable. “How can I not be attractive if this gorgeous person wants to be with me?” Sometimes to the point of ignoring other important qualities in a partner like kindness and loyalty.
I have also seen people stuck in destructive patterns proving the belief right or numbing the shame of the belief. For example, the person who continually overeats because, “Why bother? I’m fat and unlovable.” Or the person with an alcohol or drug addiction who numbs the pain by getting high, which creates a vicious cycle of more shame and numbing.
What about you? How is your career or relationships related to your old belief? What do you do to numb out the pain or shame of the belief?
Mind you, most of us aren’t even really aware that this is what’s underneath our choices or patterns, until we start to explore them and seek out help like coaching or therapy. This was certainly true for me. I started to realize how much of my life was really oriented to proving my mother wrong.
Every school or work success was proof that I was good. And every person who liked me was proof that I was lovable. I got very good at getting people to like me, often giving up my true self in the process.
On some level, I was still considering what my mother thought or trying to convince her that she was wrong. And while I understood on an intellectual level that her opinion shouldn’t matter, I would still get shaken when I sensed her disproval.
This led me to having some good and much needed boundaries, which was the beginning of me taking my power back. I started screening our calls, asking myself if I wanted to take/make the call. When I did choose to take/make the call, I would ground myself and prepare myself for her to be who she actually was, and not hoping she might be different.
I also chose to not share some of my meaningful moments—this was much better than hoping she would be different and then being crushed and resentful when she wasn’t.
But I still had the hardest part of my quest to do, which was to take my power back from her. To take back my sense of wellbeing as mine to create, and not hers to give. Talk about scary! It felt like I was the knight out to slay the dragon.
I did this first on my own, working with my therapist and coach. I did a few processes where I asked someone to play my mother. In some of these, they would play the loving mother so I could hear the words I desperately longed to hear (it’s amazing how profoundly healing that is) but in most of them, I had them play her as she is and I got to find my own voice and tell her that she was wrong and her opinion didn’t matter. Also profoundly healing.
The last part of my quest was to be in the actual presence of my real mother when she is at her worst, and take care of myself. To truly see her as the wounded being she is, doing the best she can, and also know that her view or actions really have nothing to do with me. To hear her criticize me and to say out loud and to her face, “I understand that is your view but that is not the truth of who I am. I reject your words because my goodness and lovability is granted by Spirit, not you.”
What would it look like to take your power back? What would you need to do and say to slay your dragon? Consider writing out the scene. Also, ask a friend to play act it with you. Play it both ways and see what happens. As you get stronger, you will know when you are ready to do it in real life.
If the original person has passed, you can still take your power back through having someone play them. Or by taking your power back from the other people you have done this dance with, like bosses or romantic partners. It doesn’t really matter if you take your power back from the first moment or the most recent. The dragon is slayed either way.