I am a recovering People-Pleasing Perfectionist. As such, I was lost to myself for a long time. Although I’ve accomplished a fair amount as an individual, I usually worked my needs and wants around other people’s needs. My family was always put first. Then friends. My needs were sometimes fourth or fifth. I often felt guilty doing things for myself.
I basically believed that I didn’t matter as much as those around me. And I bought into the story that an ideal woman, mother, is helpful and kind. She is a good person if she sacrifices her own wants and needs for others. She never puts herself first.
When I hit my mid to late 40’s, I came into the proverbial mid-life crisis. I looked around me thinking, “how did I end up here?” and, “what does my future hold?” and most importantly, “who am I and what do I want?”
It was a strange time for me. In a lot of ways, it appeared that I had everything I wanted: a good family, supportive husband, friends, an education. So, if my life was so good, why did I live with an underlying discontent?
Whenever I started questioning my life and needs, my inner Critic would jump in and tell me I had nothing to be unhappy about. My Critic would say, “you are an ungrateful person. What right do you have to be unhappy?”
There was another voice in me longing to speak up
Yet there was another voice in me longing to speak up. A voice that deserved to be heard. I read books about women who claimed their power by turning their back on the lives they had created. I watched movies like Thelma and Louise, and I saw friends go off in the deep end. These stories captured my imagination and I would fantasize about being like those amazingly strong, powerful, and incredibly brave women. The thought of being like them felt exciting and dangerous. I saw these women and believed that to speak my truth I’d have to completely change and live a radically different life. I thought there was only one way to be fierce. That scared me.
I really didn’t want to go off into the deep end. There were things about my life that I really liked and didn’t want to lose. But I didn’t want it to stay the same, either. And I thought those were my two choices: continue denying my inner voice or speak out and radically change my life.
I was stuck in binary thinking. I longed to start living my life for myself, to have my sense of worth come from within, and take care of my own needs. But being trapped in either/or thinking, I had no idea how to do that without disrupting my life. I felt like my choices were: either support/serve others or support/serve yourself.
My inner narrative had me trapped in a pattern of self-criticism, people-pleasing, and self-denial, all of which added to my low self-esteem. I had no idea how to set boundaries or how to express my anger and sorrow. I relied on external validation to feel good enough. This pattern of thinking actually contributed to a life-long battle with depression, which started when I was a teenager.
I lived every day feeling like I was never enough.
When you rely on others to validate you, you end up adopting their stories about who you are, how you should act in the world, and what makes you a good person. This was me. I had no framework for internal validation at all. But my true self bucked against the stories I had been told about myself and how to be a good woman.
It took me years to find out that I can rewrite my story. I can decide who I am, how I should act, and what makes me a good person. In fact, one of the first stories I rewrote was about being enough. I looked at my story from a 3rd person perspective and realized that I am a good person. I am good. I am enough. That one small shift in my story started a cascade of changing narratives.
I am good.
I am enough.
Slowly but steadily, I let go of self-judgement, and began to see all the ways in which I was a good mom, wife, friend, teacher, and how much value I was adding to others’ lives. And I started to voice my needs and ask others to meet my needs. That was hard. It still is, sometimes.
I used to be critical of myself because it took me over 30 years to figure things out. But now I accept it for what it is--it's just a fact, nothing else. It doesn’t matter how long it took me, because the experience shaped me into who I am today.
From depression, self-judgement and criticism, and fearing to speak up, rewriting my stories has changed my life.
I feel happier, healthier and freer now than ever before. And I like who I am.
I still have bad days and good days and mundane days. Sometimes I feel the depression lurking around in the shadows; but that is simply an indicator that I have more negative stories to work on. There are days that I fall back into the old habits of putting my wants last, of believing my needs don’t matter.
Using techniques of narrative coaching, I'm honoring my voice and learning that I no longer need to hide or suppress my needs and wants. Through the process of rewriting my stories, I let myself feel all the emotions with love and self-compassion. I now feel empowered, confident, and courageously vulnerable.
(Full disclosure: vulnerability is still really hard for me. But I’m getting better at it!)
My life is not perfect, but I no longer expect it to be! That’s an incredibly different story for me to tell myself. I love it! I’ve given myself permission to be human, and in doing so, I have found more peace and joy in life than I could have imagined. Because of my experiences with rewriting my stories, I am thoroughly enjoying my life. I have never been emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthier.
When you change your story, you change your life.
This is why I’ve chosen to do narrative coaching — I know that rewriting your story creates life-changing personal transformation, because I have personally experienced its power. I know that you can start to find yourself, your voice, as you shift your inner narratives.
I have spent years studying the way stories and personal narratives affects us, and the psychology behind it, all in order to help those who feel like they’ve lost themselves through constantly playing the role of supporter, to finally find themselves. I have earned my professional coaching certification as both a Whole Person Coach and an Associated Certified Coach through ICF, and I’ve been helping people rewrite their stories for the past 5 years.
In sharing my story, I want to show you that change is possible, no matter how long you have been feeling lost in your disempowering stories and patterns, how impossible it seems to change, or how terrible it currently feels. You can be seen and heard without giving up on the life you’ve created. You have my compassion and support.
And your voice doesn’t have to sound like any other person’s voice—it can’t, because it is uniquely yours. That’s the beauty of it. Standing in your power doesn’t have to require a radical, aggressive change. It can, but it doesn’t have to. What it does require is radical honesty.
In my coaching program, Cultivate Your Voice, my mission is to help you find and honor your true self by honestly assessing limiting stories and shifting your perspective, so you can reclaim your personal authority and lead an empowered, confident and compassionate life. You can support others and support yourself.
There is room for YOU in your life.
Associate Certified Coach
Certified Whole Person Coach
Life Story Certified Coach