Ever asked the question, “who am I?” because your life just doesn’t feel like the right fit?
Let me back track…
My mum and dad never finished school and they always made this big deal about how important it is to go to school; to get good grades and go to university because this is how you get the good jobs and be successful.
My mum suffered with bipolar and growing up I think I suffered a lot to this illness in terms of feeling noticed and worthy of her love. Bipolar is a very selfish condition, ultimately. I don’t say that with any bitterness. I understand now how the world was just too much for her and her focus was surviving on a daily basis, but through the eyes of a child, it felt like she didn’t see me.
As we were growing up, as well as mum’s health struggles, our family had financial struggles. We were the riches to rags story. And I grew into my independence on a Mission. To fix people/things like I’d never been able to fix mum and to avoid the scarcity our family had experienced.
So obviously I went to university to chase the respected career that would provide me with the security my childhood had lacked, but to be honest, I came out having no clue what I wanted to be! Somehow I wound up in an amazing job anyway with a great salary anyway.
At 25 I’m living in a whirlwind. I’m being promoted and winning awards and sitting in high-powered meetings making big decisions. However, behind the scenes and the company car and the big cheque I’m burning out and feeling miserable because I’m living away from the love of my life and my self-esteem is being eaten away by bullying colleagues unhappy with my fast success and responsibility. Plus the whole corporate value system of greed over hearts made me feel dirty…
I burnt out. I started to suffer severe anxiety and drank too much to make it go away. I pulled away from my relationship and spent more and more time at my desk, working late, stressing out, trying to keep up the guise of the tenacious go-getter who wanted the career her parents never had, with stable income and success. On the weekends I’m life and soul of the party pretending Monday’s never going to come around again, but it always did. One day I’m making the 3-hour trip like I always did on a Monday morning, up to my office for another week in a hotel and the walls just cave in my mind. Everything goes black. My heart is beating hard in my chest and I have no idea who I am anymore or what I want and I suddenly can’t bear another moment in my job; in my life.
I’m thinking, it’s so easy. I just pull the steering wheel and everything goes away. I’m closing my eyes and feeling the pain just melt away and when I open them again I have no idea how I am alive. I’m on the hard shoulder with the cars whizzing by and sweat is dripping down my eyes, but then I realise it is tears and I can’t stop crying.
That was the beginning of the end of my successful career. Because there is a piece I haven’t shared in this story. A piece I have only really started to talk about quite recently. The piece that made me walk away from everything and choose a life that kept me small and safe. In 2004, as part of a trip in University I had been drugged and raped on a night out with friends. I had my power taken away in the most vulnerable way.
As I walked away from everything I thought I wanted to be my health fell apart, my anxiety got worse and my self-esteem disappeared completely.
I decided the only way to reinvent myself was to move away and start from the beginning.
In 2011 I moved to New Zealand, as my partner was from there and we both craved a fresh start. It was to be the best decision I ever made because it was the start of the journey that brought me to where I am today, but it wasn’t the magic solution to all my problems like I’d thought.
Here in New Zealand I was faced with the same question again, “What do you want to do with your life Clare?” Faces with a new life in a new place, I was asking myself “who do you want to be?”
Because I didn’t have the answers I started going after the same kind of jobs that had nearly killed me and wound up in the same place each time – like a square peg in a round hole – too visionary, too innovative and too uncomfortable within the boundaries of a bureaucracy that didn’t seem to be working for the greater good. I was also obviously in this cycle of self sabotage whereby I was committed to playing small, to stay safe, but against that pushed the energy of my soul goal that I was pushing down; the calling to impact our beautiful world.
Finally the universe stepped in, or that’s what I like to believe.
I’m 6 months pregnant and I’m made redundant, which at the time made me scared and very low, but after a few days with my head under the pillow I emerged with a fresh outlook on life and a feeling of liberating freedom. My eyes set upon a new world of opportunity and impulsively I took up a network marketing opportunity and started writing a blog on my experience of being mum. (See http://www.essentialmum.net) I started meeting other mums and feeling more empowered in my life than I’d felt in years. I’m sharing all this good stuff I know about living naturally and healthily and I’m loving every day of my life, especially being able to stay home with my little one. It was frustrating putting so much of myself into my blog and not really connecting it with many people or monetising it, especially when I kept hearing stories of struggle regularly and wanted to be able to help more than I was. So at this point I decided to train to be a life coach.
It was great decision. I gained self-awareness and began to change my beliefs and thought processes. I peeled back the layers of myself, so to speak, and gained clarity, direction and confidence. I began to forgive myself and stopped relying on other people so much to make me OK. And I started to see where I wanted to place my stamp on the world, but I struggled to make it as a coach, just like I’d struggled to make it as a blogger and struggled to get my network marketing to take off…
In truth I felt like a fraud in this title, full of the responsibility to change lives, when I hadn’t sorted my own life out yet. Actually as my understanding of myself had grown, my comfort in my business had started to fall away completely. It didn’t feel like it fit me anymore. I thought I needed to work harder on the brand I had begun and even paid for support to build it, but ultimately it felt less and less like it fit me and less like my opportunity to make the difference I wanted to in the world. I was also making very little money and with two hungry mouths to feed life was starting to get tough. Before I know it my cards are being declined in the supermarket, I’m counting pennies in every direction and I’m having to make the heart-breaking decision to go the foodbank to ask for food because my kids are hungry and I’ve got no food in the fridge or money to feed them.
I’m sat on a market stall one Sunday having made $20 that I was about to hand over to pay for my stall when someone I knew and trusted handed me a card and suggested I check the website out. It was yet another network marketing opportunity, but this one seemed different. And it was. As much as the product had the potential to completely change lives, it was me who completely changed! I started plugging in to personal development on a daily basis because it was a big part of what the opportunity offered. I started to discover me – the real me behind the skewed picture of success I’d designed from seeing my parents struggle. I reconnected with a past that went way back before my struggles in a career that didn’t fit me. I started to see the deep learnings in my story and my experiences, which were driving me to change the world like I’d always had a deep passion to do. I discovered my strengths. I started to change my money mindset and finally started feeling proud to let my freak flag fly, so to speak; it’s OK to be different, its OK to have quirks and dreams and ideas. It’s OK to have been broken. I made positivity my status quo and pushed everything in my life that didn’t reflect that out. I began aligning more of my life, contributing more of my time and applying more of my heart and passion to everything I was discovering I truly am and want to be and as I did I became more successful. As I began to walk proudly as that person, my own personal brand burned brighter than any paid support could have ever masterminded and my life filled with more colour, fulfilment and enjoyment.
You see, by being the person I thought I should be and doing the things I thought I should do my colour had dulled. My life was a frustrating repeat of not feeling good enough and failing exactly because of that. It was affecting every area of my life, including my parenting. My life was being controlled by fear and limiting beliefs – that I can’t, that I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve…
The fear was born out of my past.
In that moment, the third time in my life where I really hit rock bottom, I was broken and open and raw enough to really question who I was and what I wanted. What did I love to do? Who was I away from my story and my excuses? Where was my heart and my intuition in the decisions I had made previously? Who was in control of my destiny?
By looking back through my past I discovered that my past held my greatest power – to break through my fears and understand where I truly wanted to be. From there I could take the actions that would take me to that place.
Belief is stronger than fear.
But ultimately the belief that I really am worth it, that I do truly deserve and that I am good enough has been the last piece to get. It’s really hard to cut ties with the beliefs and feelings that have held you back most your life.
For me, taking part in the Play to Win Reality Show was a defining moment because I connected with the feeling that has been holding me back and there was no way of hiding from it, and in this connection everything became clear.
While our scars still mark us, the pull to rely on external sources to feel whole (our businesses, relationships, our bank balances) will always be greater than our trust in ourselves as the true source of our abundance. Because the instinct and the impact of our experiences have significant control over the actions we take in our lives and our mindset.
I see people trapped within values that aren’t their own, beliefs that aren’t their truth, thoughts that are limiting them and stories that are keeping them stuck.
But I don’t see them seeing that.
I see them looking to outside fixes for a solution to their pain – their business not growing, their relationships failing, their health deteriorating, their bank balances controlling them and their life not making them feel happy or fulfilled.
But the answer is not in any external solution. (I know that now.) No course, plan, strategy, book, or person can be the bandaid to the wounds inside of us.
Some of them are just minor scrapes and bruises and some of them run really deep. Some of them have scarred over so we think they are healed, but underneath the scars the flesh is rotting and our external results reflect this deterioration and decline.
Because our interactions, self-talk and behaviours are guided by our past experiences and our armour. When actually our past is our greatest power to create the future we want.
And I’m on a MISSION to prove that!