“It's everything I am and what I'm not
And all I'm trying to be.”
-Sara Bareilles, Little Voice
I never know what is going to come into my inbox. Most of the messages I receive are seeking support or advice, but every once in a while, they are offering support or advice.
One such message arrived about two months ago. The messenger asked if “blogging” is really what I wanted to keep doing. She expressed concern that I was not “traveling well” and suggested I consider taking a break. She added that I’d contributed so much information over the years, that it would be ok if I decided to stop altogether.
Now this probably sounds abrupt—and at first, I was a bit shocked myself. But in the words, I detected genuine care and concern from this long-time follower.
Yet, despite the well-meaning intentions, the message caused me pain. There was a bit of shame—that perhaps my writing had taken a downturn, and I was not aware. There was frustration—that my life’s work, which includes publishing books, developing an online course, and speaking publicly had been reduced to the word “blogging.” There was also anger—that someone who doesn’t know me would cross a personal boundary and speak to me in ways that I would expect only from a family member or close friend.
Given the plethora of uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing, I knew I needed to reach out to someone. I turned to my truth-teller friend, a woman who also navigates this tricky space of public writing and the expectations that come with building and maintaining an online platform.
After talking to my friend for a bit, I admitted that part of what made me feel uncomfortable was the fact that what the reader proposed appealed to me. In a recent visit to the garden department of a home supply store, I’d fantasized about working there. Michael McDonald’s soothing voice came through the speakers while customers quietly browsed the aisles of vibrant plants and flowers. Oh, how I wanted to throw on an employee apron, assist them with their selections, and never open my computer again.
I’d stood next to the bags of discounted soil remembering a painful observation spoken to me six months ago. I’d been working with a therapist for the first time in my life, choosing to be honest with her about what it was like in my head, my heart, and my body.
In the kindest, most compassionate, understanding way, my therapist said, “I believe 95% of the issues you are struggling with are caused by your job.”
“How can the one thing that brings me immense joy—the thing I feel certain I’m supposed to do with my life—be the same thing that causes me so much pain?”
That is what I said to her.
But in looking back now, I realize the truth. The act of writing and sharing what I discover in the process DOES bring me immense joy. What poisons it are the roles that have been assigned to me in order to make a living and be “successful.”
The roles we are assigned
The roles we never asked to have
The roles we do because, at one point in time, we needed them to survive or thrive
That is where the stress, depletion, resentment, and damages often come in.
The same friend who talked me through the upsetting message had recently made a momentous breakthrough. The role of Caretaker/Fixer/Peacemaker she fulfilled most of her adult life was born from the dysfunction in her family of origin.
Continuing this role into adulthood and carrying it over into other relationships was causing self-betrayal, lack of boundaries, exhaustion, guilt, and pain. My friend knew it was time to release this role. Through quiet sessions sitting with her internal Caretaker/Fixer/Peacemaker, she was able to say, “You served me well, but I don’t need you anymore. You can go now.”
From there, an awakening, a freedom, and an opportunity to invest in the role she feels she is meant to fill NOW was unleashed.
As I watch my friend step into the role that she is claiming for HERSELF, I have been greatly inspired.
I decided to make a list with two columns: “What I love about my job” and “What I dislike about my job.” From the list, I classified the tasks and expectations into roles.
The list made it abundantly clear that I was spending too much energy fulfilling aspects of the job that were either: 1) assigned to me or assumed of me, or 2) purposeful at one point but only hindering me now. Continuing to fulfill these roles is not only counterproductive to my goals but also deeply harmful to my wellbeing.
While some of the depleting roles can be removed completely, others are non-negotiable. But the act of naming these roles has created awareness that helps me make better choices with my time, focus, and energy.
I have now identified four self-appointed roles that I believe will fulfill me, as well as serve the world:
I look at these terms and each one means something to me. These are roles that I hope and pray will go beyond my “job” and be who I am.
With these four roles in mind, I’ve been able to establish clear daily targets and healthy boundaries. Sometimes, when I find myself reverting back to old roles, I will lovingly say to my inner Pleaser/Completist/Overachiever, “I don’t need you today. You can go now.”
I’m sure I will have to do a lot of this; redefining takes time, but I know the work is worth it. Which is precisely why I am sharing this story with you today.
This is me, the Connector. I connect dots in my life to help me make sense of things. And one of the greatest gifts I think we can give each other is to connect our dots.
My hope for this piece is that I might reach someone who’s been thinking:
“I wish I could start over.”
“I can’t go on like this.”
“I hate my life.”
Maybe it’s not about reinventing your life but releasing toxic roles.
Dear ones, what roles are you fulfilling that you never asked for?
What roles have you been assigned that people just assume you’ll do?
What roles did you adopt in the past as an act of self-preservation that hinder you now?
Name them, then say to yourself: “I am not a ____________; I am a ___________. This is how I want to show up in the world.”
I will start:
I am a connector, not an influencer.
I am guide, not a guru with all the answers.
I am an encourager, not an advice giver or problem fixer.
I am a Soul-Builder, not a social media influencer or strategist.
I am a mapmaker with a poor sense of direction, and I am on a lifelong journey to grasp the moments that matter. Some have said, “You look tired. Maybe you should quit.” But I have places to see and people yet to meet. I enjoy having companions on my journey. Walk with me? Let’s show up in the world in the way that feels most true to our hearts, in the direction that WE choose for ourselves.
My dot to your dot.
My hand in your hand.
Two important things:
1) Registration for Soul Shift LIFT, my supportive online journey, opens THIS Sunday, January 31st at an early-bird price. If you don’t want to miss out, click here and enter your email to be personally notified. I’ve led five Soul Shift sessions since 2018, and each session never fails to bring momentous breakthroughs in my life and in the lives of the participants who become family. The journey begins 2/15, but it is self-paced so you can take as much time as you need.
2) The LIVE LOVE NOW cuff and key chain featured in today's post can be purchased at 40% off this week in honor of my birthday. Use the code BIRTHDAYLOVE40 at checkout to receive the discount on the cuff or keychain! For those who missed the Facing Fear Manifesto print & ONLY LOVE TODAY bracelets when they sold out in December, there are now some available in the shop.
Thank you for your love, presence, & support! You make the best companions on the journey.