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February 9, 2020

The emotion that’s holding you back from your dreams

I spent years of my life working an unfulfilling corporate job when all I truly wanted was to use my gifts to help transform people’s lives.

I knew I wanted to start my own business as a coach, retreat host and speaker but there was some invisible barrier holding me back.

I thought that maybe it was my money-mindset, so I took courses on creating financial abundance, but alas, the invisible barrier remained.

I thought that maybe it was my lack of knowledge about owning and running a business, so I read book after book and listened to podcast after podcast about successful entrepreneurship and still, the invisible barrier remained.

Finally, I realized that although my corporate job was feasting on my soul, it was protecting my heart from feeling something it was terrified of ever feeling again: disappointment.

I remembered that when I was 9 years old, I wrote a song. I can remember the lyrics to this day: “I feel like I’m a fish, swimming in the sea, I feel like I don’t know you the way you know me, I’m attached, can’t let go. You broke my heart and didn’t even know….”

I was so proud of this song and I couldn’t wait to sing it to my friends at recess.

I pulled a few of them aside and performed my song for them–eyes closed, fully feeling myself. When I opened my eyes, they were laughing. “I wouldn’t count on a career as a songwriter if I were you,” they sneered.

The reason their reaction hurt so much was because I loved songwriting so much.

If I had shared something with them that I didn’t love as much, it wouldn’t have mattered.

So in that moment, I made a decision that my 9-year-old-brain thought would protect me from future pain: if you love something enough, don’t share it.

I realized that grown-up me in her fancy corporate job was being held back by the fears of a 9-year-old.

Because the 9 year old in me was still terrified that if I went after my dreams and started a coaching, speaking and retreats business, I might get shut down, rejected, embarrassed and disappointed again.

If I didn’t go for my dreams at all, then I might live an unfulfilled life, but at least I got to preserve the sanctity of my love of transformation. At least I got to keep my dreams.

I realized that no amount of empowerment or education was going to remove that invisible barrier for me.

The only thing that was going to make a difference was for me to become willing to feel those things that my 9 year old self promised herself she would never feel again.

So, in my mind’s eye, I called upon my 9-year-old self, post-recess on that fateful day, and I had a little talk with her.

“Hi sweet little Brandi,” I told my past self, “I know that you feel so icky about the way that your friends responded to your song. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Those friends were being very mean. Your song was wonderful, and you deserve to keep writing songs and sharing your work. Their negative feedback does not mean that you should stop doing what you’re doing–it means that the universe is preparing you to share your work in an even bigger way by giving you practice in experiencing rejection.”

“So I want to let you know that although you may not want me to, and although it may make you scared, I am going to pursue my dreams of starting a transformational business. I’m going to share my work on all sorts of different platforms, and I’m going to probably receive lots of criticism. But that’s okay. I’m going to lean into my feelings of disappointment, embarrassment and insecurity, and I’m going to use them as an opportunity to love myself more deeply and unconditionally. You no longer need to be afraid of feeling those things.”

My 9 year old self understood and agreed to face the intensity of the ensuing emotions with me, and so she and I together left the corporate job and started a transformational business.

My business has been strong, successful and impactful for the better part of 5 years now. I’ve shared transformation through writing a book, publishing dozens of articles and videos, 1-1 coaching with over 200 individuals, leading seminars to hundreds of people, and leading 20 retreats to over 300 participants through my company, The Shift Retreats.

And I’ve felt all sorts of disappointment, rejection and embarrassment along the way.

But rather than avoiding these emotions, I’ve seen them as an opportunity to heal past wounding and love myself better.

So here’s what I want for you to do:

Think of the thing you want that you don’t have.

A deeply connected relationship. 

Honest friendships.

A platform of influence.

A position of leadership.

A strong body.

Financial success.

Now think—“if I were REALLY going after this thing, really taking action to produce this result—what feelings am I deep down afraid I might encounter?” Rejection? Abandonment? Embarrassment? Disappointment? Vulnerability? Loss? Insecurity?

Perhaps you’re even afraid of the intensity of receiving love, praise or admiration.

And now, just know that whatever fear you have about that emotion comes from a past experience with it. An experience in which you decided that emotion was bad or too intense (it might be helpful, but it is not necessary, for you to identify WHEN this past experience happened. Just recognize that it happened in the past, which no longer exists in objective reality, and it is not happening now).

But no emotion is bad. No emotion itself can hurt you. In fact, the more intense an emotion is, the more it will expand your nervous system when you choose to feel it.

And the more expanded your nervous system, the greater your capacity to hold joy, presence, connection, inspiration and love.

It’s just like weight training at the gym: the more resistance you add, the stronger you get!

These previously unwanted emotions are here to open you, to clean you out, to make you more spacious, and to prepare you to hold more abundance.

So rather than fearing this unwanted emotion, make it a game to see just how welcoming you can be to that emotion.

Rather than trying to turn down the intensity of the emotion (which leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms), instead, turn up your willingness to feel the intensity of it.

Invite it into your life so that you have an opportunity to transform the way you relate to this emotion. 

Because remember, whatever you resist persists and whatever you don’t own owns you.

So pretend that at the end of your life, this emotion is going to give a testimonial about how you treated it.

Embarrassment, rejection, disappointment and vulnerability in turn are going to take the stand and tell the judge how you treated them.

See if you can live your life in such a way that they each rave about how kind, loving, welcoming and nurturing you were to them.

When you choose to BE LOVE in relation to your previously unwanted emotions, there is nothing you can’t do, have or be.

The only way to have that which you’ve never had is to be willing to feel that which you’ve never been willing to feel.

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