Your stories are needed.

Your stories are needed

Yesterday on Facebook, I shared that for as long as I have been blogging, people have been telling me to censor myself.

I wasn't feeling upset about this, I am FASCINATED by it. Not any particular instance of this happening, but the fact that it's happened so consistently over the last 12 years.

I wasn't expecting my comment it to stir up so much reaction from people. Just because I don't use Facebook like I used to, I seem to be lost in the algorithm and don't get a lot of engagement there. But this sparked engagement so I was inspired to write more.

I originally shared my comment mostly for the people who hold back from speaking their truth because they don't want the kinds of responses that I get regularly.

I wanted to normalize the idea that you can do what you want to do, regardless of what others think you should be doing.

This is sovereignty 101.

And it's the foundation for being able to pursue ANY dream. Because when you follow your own heart - not everyone in your life is going to like what you're doing. It's just not possible.

So, given what I do with the Creative Dream Incubator, of course this is something that is always on my mind.

And when you share your stories from your perspective - not everyone is going to like what you're saying.

This simple fact keeps so many people silent. It especially keeps the more sensitive among us silent.

And yet.

The most sensitive among us often have important things to share. And, frankly, the world is JUST SO FULL of the stories of the LEAST sensitive and most loud of us. We need more stories from the more reflective, sensitive folks to balance things out.

And for some of us, like me, sharing our stories and our process IS a part of how we are creative.

So what do you do when your fear of other people's opinions holds you back from expressing your truth?

People ask me about this all the time, but it comes up up a lot more when I am writing about anti-racism and anti-capitalism and decolonization.

People who want to speak up but are afraid of saying the wrong thing. There is a fear of causing offence when you don't mean to. Which is genuine! If you're a white person learning anti-racism that's just a part of the discomfort you're going to have to learn to bear. AND if/when that happens - it's not that hard to apologize and make amends.

There is actually a lot of google-able information about how to talk about racism. I just wanted to note - there are specific issues to consider there.

But, in general, just when feeling the call to share your own stories, thoughts, and feelings - there is also a common fear of people getting angry with you just because they don't agree with your truth and don't want you to say it.

And then beneath that there is the fear of "I won't know how to handle that" and fears of what kinds of consequences this will bring.

And mixed in there is also the idea that - it shouldn't matter. Like "what other people think of me is none of my business" and yet... that's not how we're wired.

Of course we want approval and harmony with our fellow humans.

Of course it's uncomfortable.

So what do you need to do, to make it easier to bear the discomfort, for you to say and do the things you want to say and do?

That's the question.

This comes into play in SO MANY PLACES with our dreams.

  • I want to make and share my art but I'm embarrassed of what people will think. Is it really good enough?
  • I want to make a big change in my business but my clients are happy with what I am doing now. Will I lose all of them?
  • I want to talk about this thing I am SUPER PASSIONATE ABOUT but I don't think my friends will agree with me. Will they argue with me? Will it get uncomfortable? Will I LOSE friends over it?

Fear of alienation is real.

The pain of not being understood is real.

Fear of rejection is real.

It's all real.

Living into your sovereignty and living into your dreams means growing towards your most powerful and wise and authentic self.

You can't be deeply wildly TRUE TO YOURSELF in how you're showing up in your life if you're not tending to the places in you that get hurt. Creating and maintaining boundaries to keep your tender self safe. Accepting the consequences of your choices and working with them. Cultivating your courage.

You have to recognize how all of this is functioning within you, and shine a light on your own fears around putting yourself out there.

It's only when you can look your fears in the eye and be with your feelings that you find the power to not let these fears control you. This is one of the main things I teach because it's one of the main things that holds us back (and BTW you should definitely join me in Dream Book for really creative and empowering and playful ways to do all of this).

(Which is never to say that the world doesn't hold you back also. YOU are not the only thing in your way. It's just that the parts where you ARE the thing in your way are always the best place to start because doing this work helps you have more POWER and FUEL for facing the outer obstacles.)

So ask yourself:

What EXACTLY are you afraid of?

What's the absolute worst thing that could happen?

And then, stepping into your brave sovereign self, what kind of boundary could you create here to help give you space to do what you need to do?

Give this all some real thought.

For me - canned responses are a way to make this all much simpler.

I came up with this years ago and still do it to this day.

Of course - often I just don't respond. It depends on my energy levels and what else I'm working on and relationship with the person and the subject of the discussion.

This is a part of doing sovereignty in a GROWNUP way and taking responsibility for the CONSEQUENCES of your action. Yes, I am a sovereign being and can ignore anyone I want. No one has an automatic right to access me. BUT ALSO this is my work and engaging with the people who are engaged with my work can have a lot of benefits. I don't mean just sales - but understanding what's on people's minds and what they're dealing with and really CONNECTING. Treating them like human beings and not like "an audience".

I mean - you have to look at it all more deeply. That's just my choice.

So I like having the canned responses because I like to be quite responsive to people.

Having a canned response means I can respond without engaging emotionally.

It doesn't pull me into their "You are wrong and I want you to be different" vibes. It doesn't make me engage with the unsolicited advice I get.

It creates a buffer.

My canned response shares my policy about how I share my stories, thoughts and feelings without allowing anyone to edit me.

Most of the time, people respond to that in really beautiful ways.

Because they absolutely did not mean to be disrespectful. It's VERY EASY for people to get triggered while reading other people's stories, and just respond in the moment.

It's ESPECIALLY triggery when people really do like and respect me, and see me as a role model for living in a meaningful and authentic way, and then see me say/do something they thing is really wrong. Because it throws a lot of stuff into question. So an instant reaction to that can be to try to get me to be back on the right path, so that they can go on being inspired and encouraged by me and not have these conflicting feelings.

With these people, we often go on to have helpful conversations or at least we both leave the interaction feeling good about it.

But sometimes, sharing my policy in response makes people angrier. Those ones I stop engaging with.

It's a simple protocol.

Yup, it took time and energy and thought to figure out how to navigate this, to create space where I feel free to share what I want to share. It takes work, and there is a cost.

But NOT sharing what you feel called to share has it's cost too.

Consider that the people who HATE what you say will gravitate AWAY from you when you share them more consistently. This makes more space for people who RESONATE with you to come in.

(I mean that personally and professionally)

And consider that putting it out there and having it go exactly as horribly as you are afraid it will - just might be the experience that helps you become more brave about putting yourself out there.

That's what happened to me in 2009 or 2010!

I started blogging and creating free e-courses while I was teaching creativity and spirituality workshops in person (evenings and weekends while working a full time office job) never thinking that I would charge for online things. I was doing this for fun and to explore my ideas.

Then it changed and I decided to stop doing in person workshops and create an online business and quit my job.

I was TERRIFIED to send that first email, with the details my new coaching program. People has signed up for my emails for free inspiration! What if they get mad that I am selling something?

I hit send and immediately went for a long walk to calm my nerves.

This was before I even had an iPhone, so I did not have a way to check email on my walk (!)

I got home and found exactly the angry email I was afraid of.

The person literally wrote, among other much ruder things, "I signed up for free inspiration I don't want to read about your paid coaching"

My worst fear. Right there on the screen.

And - now this is NOT how I thought I would react at all, I was genuinely terrified of this exact thing happening - I laughed.

I said to myself "Who the fuck is she to think I OWE HER free inspiration?"

And in that moment I was free of that fear.

Now - when people sign up for free inspiration via email, of course you want to provide what you say you will. And I had no intention to stop sending out free inspiration. I mean that was over 11 years ago and here I am still doing it.

But if a person can't also hear about what kinds of programs and services I am offering then I don't HAVE TO send them free inspiration. I don't owe them anything.

This person's feelings were TOTALLY VALID.

And my feelings were TOTALLY VALID as well.

Nobody has to be wrong. But as a sovereign being I don't need to offer free inspiration to this woman who would email me with an insulting tone. And I do accept the consequences of this choice.

I hit the unsubscribe button for her to make sure she never had to hear another word about my offerings.

And you know what? A WHOLE BUNCH of other people responded by BUYING MY NEW COACHING OFFERING.

And I went on to offer more paid coaching and classes and turned this thing I was doing for fun into my full time job.

No, this stuff won't always be so easy and clean to work through. I did want to share my most immediately-triumphant story in the hopes that it sparks triumph for you as well.

Your stories are needed.

We are in a time of big transitions. The pandemic has a lot of people re-thinking a lot of things. We're in late stage capitalism and starting to see it fail more people in more ways than ever before.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings and inspiration and hopes and dreams can actually help shape the new world to come.

Or it can help others feel less alone.

Keeping them hidden inside you certainly won't help anyone.

Your stories are needed.
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