July 29, 2013

What’s Wrong with Me? ~ Lana Shlafer

I used to say that I wanted to be an expert.

When adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, a typical answer might be something like a teacher or a doctor.

Not me.  “I want to be an expert.”

Whoa, that’s a big word for a 7 year-old. “An expert in what?” I was asked. However, I didn’t care in what discipline I developed expertise in.

It just felt so good thinking of myself as the most knowledgeable person in something. I felt very frustrated and depressed for much of my 20s because I believed I was not diving far enough into any line of work to develop expertise.  Nothing seemed to captivate me for long with the kind of zest that I wanted to feel.

Why didn’t I stay at Citigroup on the paved path to become a successful, high-ranking investment banker? Why didn’t I continue teaching yoga full-time and strive to become one of the most sought-after yoga instructors?  Why didn’t I go back and finish my M.A. in Transpersonal Counseling when I completed most of the course work?

“You’ll never hit water if you dig a bunch of shallow wells,” I heard somewhere and immediately cringed.

“What’s wrong with me?” I’d think, “Am I just not that smart or talented?”

I wanted to be a leader, a path paver, a recognized voice in something so badly.  I wanted to feel unequivocally purposeful, and know that this is what I was meant to do.

Yet, I wasn’t interested in just picking something that didn’t captivate my heart and soul and working “hard” at it.

I wanted a calling to seduce me and I wanted to be madly in love with it, not just marry it because we’ve been dating for a while.

I spent so long thinking that I needed more degrees, more training and more experience to be knowledgeable, that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Nothing held my exclusive attention for long because I was on a different life track than becoming an expert on a particular subject.

I realized that wanted to become an expert in myself.

I now see that all that dabbling in banking, project management, success coaching, dance, personal training, yoga and transpersonal psychology did not make me a ‘master’ in any of those fields, but it did help me get to know many different facets of myself and what I love.  It has allowed me to see various aspects of the human psyche, experience a broad range of situations and understand the spiritual basis of reality.

Because I hadn’t attained the outward laurels, I began looking within myself in order to feel successful, worthy, recognized and cherishedSurprisingly, that was what I was looking for all along.

Even as a seven year old, I associated being valued and respected, and ultimately feeling worthy, with external confirmation. Now I see that my meandering path was the perfect training ground for me to discover that my expertise is in knowing myself and in helping others to meet, court and fall in love with themselves.

And that makes me more than an expert. It makes me the best self I can be—the best at being the unique version of me that I have come on to this earth to be.

Empowerment Time

Do you feel that you know yourself as well as you’d like?  Are you an expert at meeting your own needs?  Try this simple exercise  to help you develop a stronger sense of self and self-care.

  • First, spend a few quiet minutes slowing down and deepening the breath.  Feel the sensations in the body, allowing waves of relaxation to wash over you.
  • When you feel settled, silently ask yourself what you need most in this very moment. Is it rest?  Nourishment? Movement? Are you craving to connect with a loved one? To find more inspiration in your life?  Don’t be afraid to admit what you are wanting, even if you can’t meet that desire right at the moment.
  • Then, think of one activity this week that will help you get more of what you want.  Maybe a yoga class, maybe a much needed night out with friends or a coaching session with me to shift into a new perspective.  You are worth it.
  • Schedule this activity now into your calendar and comment below on what it is (or tell a friend).  The more you commit to following through on the wisdom that your inner voice whispers, the easier it will be to meet your own needs and therefore feel fulfilled, satisfied and ready to share happiness with others.

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Asst. Ed: Tawny Sanabria/Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: via Pinterest}

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