In this episode, I’m talking about my fears, insights, lessons and overall experience with coming out of the proverbial spiritual closet. A lot of you are probably having your own battles in terms of identity. Because that’s what this is really about. It’s about authenticity and daring to go all in and express to the world who we truly are. As an entrepreneur coach, I see a lot of this as most entrepreneurs are either changing from identifying as a student or as an employee into a completely new venture. This requires them to take on a new self concept that they previously haven’t, and showing this side of themselves can be scary! If you are having any kind of resistance around identity or showing your true and full vibrant colors to the world, this episode is for you!
Ever since I was a little girl, I was drawn to the alternative – esoteric, spiritual, alternative health practices, natural remedies and all the rest. My mother’s side of the family has always been more open to that, but on my dad’s side academics and hard facts has sort of been alfa omega.
In spite of one part of the family being more open to the alternative realm, I have been scared shitless (pardon my french) to speak my full truth around this to the public. I was saying to my boyfriend some time back that “I feel like a 15 year old gay boy living in the most religious regions of the US during the 60’s”. I’m sure that person would’ve had it way worse, but that has been the feeling that comes up for me when thinking about publicly talking about more alternative perspectives. Just the thought of putting my face on social media or speaking on a podcast like I am now has made my reprilian- or primal brain (which is responsible for innate and automatic self-preserving behavior patterns) goes off like a red hot flashing alarm central.
The Norwegian Princess Martha Louise started what she called “the angel school” some years back. The media hung her out to dry and comedians tirelessly made fun of her. Seeing society rejecting these kinds of perspectives doesn’t exactly help the confidence levels when it comes to speaking out. Obviously, there are many shades of spirituality and some things might be straight out BS – (I’ll touch on that later)
In any society and any industry there will be some rotten apples. I see a lot of spiritual bypassing and inflated spiritual egoes out and about, a lot of preaching and not practicing. There are also quite a few people claiming to have certain gifts, such as being psychic or something along those lines, without any gifts in that department whatsoever. There will always be those who try to trick people for a buck in any industry, including the self-development and spiritual one – which is a pity because it taints and clouds the perception of the real deal. The real mindful practices, the deep inner work, the actual spiritual principles and the benefits and transformations that those can bring. Neuroscience is actually proving more and more of what mystics has been talking about for centuries – more on that later.
My experience has been that when the average Joe & Jenny (let’s just call them that) hears someone talking about the universe, law of attraction, manifestation, energy, healing etc. etc. – they roll their eyes and puts it in the “crazy person” box – maybe even “dumb-easy to-deceive-person”-box. In our society, mostly structured around a corporate job, hard facts and a fixed way of life, it seems to be limited space for feelings, intuition, potential and dreams. However, the latter is where MY heart lays. I have given away way too much power to others by regarding their beliefs to be superior to mine. I haven’t allowed myself to talk openly about who I am and how I see this universe in the fear of being rejected – even by people I don’t know! It’s as though being a skeptic (or having a fixed mindset) is applauded as the more intelligent view. But I have decided that I will not be one of those people lying on their deathbed regretting that they didn’t follow their heart and joy in the fear of being judged by others.
A lot of people who are interested in spirituality and self development present a moderated version of themselves to the world. We’re afraid to be judged, laughed at, feel rejected, be labeled as “fruit loops”, frankly. I have several friends who have a separate “close friends” list on instagram so that only those open for alternative views can see the stories they post on that topic. Again, this is in fear of being judged or rejected by those friends who don’t share the same beliefs. It almost feels like an underground culture in a way. Where you could never tell that a person is into spiritual practices as they go to work as a marketer, as a banker, as a scientist etc. unless you’re into the same things. Being fully open about how I see the world has been one of my own deepest shadows to heal. To fully dare to put myself “out there”, authentically and not as a dimmed version of myself. Kate Murphy and I touch on this in episode 10 as well. I believe in meeting people where they’re at and I’ll never force my views upon others. I actually think it’s healthy to have diverse perspectives, opinions and beliefs and that we can still accept and love each other regardless. Any perspective can help us stretch our minds and being open to that, I think will help us grow as people.
I’ve worked hard with my own coach on daring to really own my weird, alternative, colorful, out-of-the-box, visionary, self in all my glory – without feeling that I’ll be a living dart board in the process. It’s super scary! We all have something that we’re afraid of showing the world. We are so attached to our identity, and it’s one that we have developed over many years and it has helped us be safe and fit in somewhere. Being an entrepreneur coach I see so many people struggling with some sort of identity shift. As I briefly mentioned, many people have had a career first and now they’re creating their own business within something potentially completely different. I recently got a referral to work with a lady that had been working with rocket science for a major internationally recognized project, however, this woman is super creative and her heart was actually calling her to create a blog and work with social media. What a major identity shift that is! Our stories are all unique, but the feelings are always the same. Change is not easy and our brain is biologically wired to make us doubt anything that is not familiar or “safe”.
As a coach I have a responsibility of digging in my own dirt and overcoming my limiting beliefs in any situation that they arise. If I haven’t gone through the flames myself, I wouldn’t have developed the depth to coach my clients to grow through their fears. Interestingly, what we fear is in fact our feelings that creating change will result in. It’s not that we’re actually going to die. When we were babies, rejection by our caretakers could mean death, and rejection is therefore hardwired in our brains and bodies to create stress responses to get ourselves back into “safety”. However, we are now grown-ups and we are not going to die if someone rejects us or criticises us, but it will most likely be very uncomfortable. So in reality, that is what we’re fearful of – how it will make us feel. But it’s just feelings and if we’re willing to feel any feeling, we will actually set ourselves up to achieve anything. We can choose what we think about any circumstance and by changing our thoughts, we will automatically change how we feel around the situation at hand. This takes some training and is something I help my clients implement.
When I first started my social media account speaking more freely in terms of how I experience this universe, I actually spent a good 4 hours blocking anyone that I knew who didn’t share the same opinions on spirituality, self-development and human potential. I was so afraid of being judged, that they would talk behind my back and label me as one of those “crazy motivational speakers who talk about fluffy nonsense”. I did the blocking because I wanted to experience dancing as thoug no-one was watching so to speak. I wanted to grow my roots deeper and feel more at ease speaking my truth before facing potential criticism from those I know who don’t see it the same way. Little by little I started to unblock people and I felt better about the situation. I’m not saying that this is the way to do it, but it was what I needed to do to bridge the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. This way I didn’t bulldoze my needs for feeling safe and it helped me actually start posting instead of procrastinating and feel perplexed in fear of the consequences. Also, did I mention I also blocked my own boyfriend? My coach gave me homework to show him my instagram and write down all the feelings that came up before, under and after showing him. Mind you, though, I have the most supportive, kind, accepting boyfriend – but I was still horrified – what if he would laugh at me and think am a pretender. This is obviously all my ego or protector part trying to keep me safe. He would never call me a poser as he sees me tirelessly study the human mind, human behaviour and human potential every single day. Anyway, I’m digressing – to fill you in on how ingrained into my mind and body this fear was, here’s what i felt before, during and after I showed him my Instagram profile:
My boyfriend, who is not into the whole spiritual realm like I am, mind you – was so accepring, he cheered me on and told me how proud he was of me for putting myself out there in spite of my fears.
So as you see from this story – I had nothing to fear, but my reptilian brain went bananas trying every trick in the book to get me to bail out. But it was all just emotions and feelings in my body. I didn’t die, and I didn’t ruin my relationship.
Being spiritual, doing yoga and practicing mindfulness has become a trend and it’s more commonly accepted these days. Yet, when we have been conditioned to believe that one mindset is superior to another, it takes both courage and time to reveal our thoughts. It feels like undressing, standing naked in front of a crowd, just waiting for someone to throw rotten eggs at you or look another way in disgust.
The funny part of all of this, though, is that I’ve spent more than a decade diving in the deep end of spirituality, psychology, trauma work, inner child work and all the self-development content I could get my hands on. I’ve also studied successful people across a wide variety of professions. What strikes me is that if you start to assess the mindset of very successful people, they always seem to have a somewhat spiritual approach to life. Although the “law of attraction” can be perceived as fluffy non-sense, most of the successful people I’ve studied apply a lot of these principles in one way or the other. I encourage you to do your own research around this. Also, if you’re just embarking on your “awakening” or spiritual path, I encourage you to read or listen to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s books. He explains how our brains work scientifically and how neuroplasticity allows us to completely restructure our personalities so as to grow into a more successful version of ourselves. My favourite book from Dr. Dispenza is “Breaking the Habit of being yourself”, and “Evolve Your Bain”, which he wrote first is also amazing.
I see how transformation happens in clients when we go deep. When we go all “woo”. When we peel back the layers until it’s only pure potential left and we start to build their visions up from that space. Whether we call it spiritual alignment, neuro linguistic programming, neuroscience or self development, I don’t care. Working with people’s minds to help them tap into their true essence is my joy and commitment, and as long as I see that this helps my clients thrive and create a life on their terms, I don’t really care what sceptics think or say.
Anyway, what I want to leave you with today, that has been very helpful to me around this topic is: Be open, curious and child like in your approach. We are merely living organisms with a soul and ,an ego to keep us safe, on a tiny ball of rock in an infinite universe that we are yet to understand.
We’re the ones holding ourselves back. What we fear others will think of us are merely a reflection of our own thoughts about ourselves, stories that we make up. These are limiting beliefs that hold us back and they generally stem from “internalized parents” and societal conditioning, but we can choose what we think and when we get really good at overcoming limiting beliefs, our lives will transform.
I would love to hear your biggest take-aways from today, so take a screenshot of this episode, tag me in an instagram story and let me know – my handle is @martinethomassencoaching
I hope you build the courage and find the strength to show yourself to the world in all of your brilliance!
Lots of love!
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