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Saying Yes to ourselves first

As women, we find ourselves signing up again and again. 

Sure, I’ll help out. OK, I’ll get it to you by Friday.  Absolutely, I can cover for you.  Of course – I’ll be right there.

We’re hardwired to support, to nurture, to hold the container.  We come together because we know that true success isn’t about the one, it’s about the whole.  At heart, we’re collaborators, not competitors.

This is perhaps our greatest strength, and the one that gives our world a fighting chance even in the face of distressing patterns and unsustainable practices.  (You probably heard that the Dalai Lama said in 2012, “The world will be saved by the Western woman”.  You, like me, most likely agree with him.)

But – and – we seem to have forgotten that our Yes’es to others can’t supersede our Yes’es to ourselves.  The prerequisite to showing up for others is showing up for ourselves.

And in order to show up for ourselves we need to find our deepest, most heartfelt Yes’es.  Sometimes those Yes’es are hard to hear, and harder to own.

The journey to yes

My client, let’s call her Isabelle, was in the sunset of her chosen career path.  She worked long and hard, for many years, and she earned herself a leadership position within a thriving healthcare company.  She said yes to many opportunities that enabled her to grow, to stretch, and to experience abundance.

But Isabelle repeatedly ignored a nagging and insistent voice asking her to step back from her work.  The company culture was not in sync with her values, and she felt she compromised her integrity on a regular basis.  She was depleted, overworked and unhappy.

She knew deep down that she wanted to work more closely with people whose ideas about wellness more closely resembled her own.  She knew that a different path would mean risk, potential hardship and uncertainty.  She struggled to make peace with giving up the security she’d worked long and hard for, in exchange for what was at the moment simply a dream.

She asked herself, Can I leave my career to pursue the path that feels true for me?

Isabelle sat with the question for a long time.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable and truthful.  She asked for help.  She weeded out what she received.  And eventually she summoned the courage to say yes.  She would tell you that the day she made her decision to quit her job, she never looked back.

These are the types of Yes’es that empower us to create lives of resonance and meaning.  The lives we’re truly here to live. 

What is rising in you that warrants a Yes?

When you question the status quo a whole chorus of opinions and advice will bombard you from within.  Your job is to discern whether they are the voices of wisdom or the voices of fear.

The voices of fear are screechy and insistent.  They may sound very much like your parents, your second grade teacher, or your colleagues who secretly long to do the same thing you’re proposing.  These messages will send you down a rabbit hole of doubt, where you’ll encounter many reasons why not.  You’re being selfish.  You’ll fail.  You’ll succeed, and then what?  You’re not ready.  You need more money, more time, more experience.  You don’t have what it takes.  You’re a fool – stay with what you’ve got; it’s safe and it’s enough.

You’ll need to be very quiet in order to hear the voices of wisdom.  Rather than overwhelming you with opinions, they’ll provide you with questions; questions which take you deeper into the Why behind your longings.  What are you called to do right now?  What keeps you awake at night?  What’s missing in your life?  How can you show up and share your gifts with the world?

As you respond to these questions, you find yourself saying Yes.  Yes to time alone.  Yes to building community.  Yes to honing skills or shifting gears or changing careers.  Yes to what’s true for you, even with the costs associated in making it happen. 

Yes to you and to showing up in your integrity.  Yes to shining that light only YOU are here to shine.  This is what the world wants for you.

Go on, say yes.  We’re waiting.

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