What’s Wrong with Me? ~ Lana Shlafer

Via Lana Shlafer
on Jul 28, 2013
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know yourself

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}


About Lana Shlafer

Lana Shlafer: I dance every chance I get—in the middle of a queue in the grocery store, on the mat and at the playground with my kids.  I dance through life to my own drum beat and have one hell of a time!  Wanna dance with me?  Find me in a yoga class, somatic life coaching sessions or a MasterMind group.  I am the founder of Haelan Yoga and Coaching, a unique approach to helping clients heal, feel whole and achieve their dreams.  To learn more, visit me at my website and Facebook.


18 Responses to “What’s Wrong with Me? ~ Lana Shlafer”

  1. Casey Gates says:

    Beautifully put. At 27 I can deeply relate to wanting to find my place and my path. This exercise is helpful and I will definitely come back to it again!

  2. lanashlafer says:

    The most challenging times in my life were when I was 26-29. Looking back I see how sacred and powerful all the growth that I lived through at that time was. I wish I could have appreciated the metamorphosis more at the time it was happening . You are on the path, Casey! Everything is unfolding perfectly to lead you to the life of your dreams.

  3. Andrea says:

    This really spoke to me, Lana! Our paths have a lot of similarities and, ultimately, helping others navigate through it all to figure out what they were meant to do became my life's work as well.

    I think it's so important to share the twisting, winding and double backed roads we often travel to get where we are meant to go, because people often feel so lost and alone in it. There seems to be a myth that there's something wrong with you if you don't have it all figured out, or haven't been able to commit to a career (like it or not!) by the time you're 30. When, in fact, I believe we all just get to where we need to be in our time and in our own way.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Jazmine says:

    This really spoke to me. As someone who is interested in everything under the sun but has the attention span of a 3-year-old I tend to get down on myself about my unfinished projects. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

  5. lanashlafer says:

    Jazmine, thank you. My twins are almost 3 and they are the most amazing, tuned-in, present little beings that I've had the pleasure of hanging out with. So to have the wisdom of age, but the desire to do what is most fun and engaging for you (like a 3-year old) is an awesome combination!

  6. lanashlafer says:

    Oh, Andrea, I hear you! My assistant just told me today that it's so wonderful for her to see the behind the scenes of my business because it takes away some of the veneer of perfection and highlights the evolving process. And I still don't have it all figured out and hope to never get to that point – I love to learn and grow!

  7. Desiree East says:

    Great insights, Lana…it's so true, that there is always something that we are 'chasing' on the outside – but the moment we allow ourselves to focus-in and become grounded, that's where the wisdom lies. Thank you for sharing this perspective 🙂

  8. lanashlafer says:

    Desiree, thank you for your comment. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but in truth it's greenest where you water it!

  9. Jen Barrett says:

    When I left my job last year to start my own business, I found myself struggling to explain why it was important… one of the things I kept circling back to was, "I'm tired of being a generalist. I'd love to specialize in something for once in my life." I've "dabbled" extensively through my professional, academic, and volunteer roles over the past 15 years and it was exhausting. While I did good work (for which I was praised or recognized) I never felt satisfied — just pulled in too many directions with less and less time for the things I loved and needed in my life. It's the best feeling in the world to finally make that connection, to find a path that provides both self-fulfillment and a chance to support others in finding their sweet spot. Congrats, Lana! I love the empowerment exercise, too – simple yet effective.

  10. I can so relate to everything you've written here Lana. I started and stopped graduate school 4 different times before realizing that that just wasn't my path. But I had this strong urge to get a 'degree' and be an 'expert' on something. Even recently I heard myself saying, "I'm pretty good at a lot of different things, but I'm not amazing at one thing". The thing is, that's okay! And actually having a broad range of interests is quite beneficial to me and the people I touch in my life. I'm also deeply interested in being an expert on ME. Thank you for this post!

  11. I resonate so much with what your saying, and I have to say at 36, I finally feel like I'm going down the right path. I used to get pissed off at myself for taking so long for me to get here, but I realized all those experiences gave me a better understanding of who I am and what I want and didn't want from life. And I actually appreciate it now because I had the experience of learning and trying so many things that other people don't get to have.

  12. lanashlafer says:

    Hi Jen! Isn't it amazing how clear our emotional guidance is in letting us know when we are on track toward our bliss and when we've veered off? So glad you like the empowerment exercise, I use it often!

  13. lanashlafer says:

    Oooh, Elyse, I hear you loud and clear on wanting a degree or some sort of thing I could point to and everyone would know who I am and what I know. So glad that you and I instead chose the graduate school of self-realization! Maybe we should start a new field called MExpertise? Of course, it can be combined with any other graduate studies. 😉

  14. lanashlafer says:

    Aimelie, thank you. Breadth is it's own category of knowledge, isn't it? It's never too late because it is never done and it's never done because it is ever expanding (paraphrased from Abraham-Hicks)!

  15. Great quote!! Just reminded me of a song by Alanis called, "Incomplete" and she talks about how were all reaching this end goal and finally getting "there', but "we're all ever growing, ever expanding, ever adventurous and torturous, but never done…"!! love it!!

  16. Lana, beautifully written and so honest. I truly believe that the best way to help others is to help yourself. How can we help otherwise? The Course in Miracles is all about knowing ourselves because otherwise we're what it calls "unhealed healers".

  17. lanashlafer says:

    Alanis is so tuned in and I love her for that!

  18. lanashlafer says:

    Thank you Silvia! The Course of Miracles brilliantly reveals the wisdom of Know Thyself (i.e. love/appreciate/honor/realize your fullest Self)!