This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to meet, connect and laugh with some of the most inspiring, positive, strong people I have ever met at World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.
All of us exist in our own little world, and in mine the online gods and gurus were out in full force at this particular conference, both gracing the stage as speakers and workshop presenters but also gracing the seats in the audience, supporting their friends and making new ones.
It’s something you don’t see often – the people in the spotlight stepping out into the crowd, blending in and just being one of “us.” It’s really nice to see that because it reminds you that we’re all human. No matter the level of fame I ascribe to my peers, at the end of the day, I operate in the same community as them, which makes us essentially equals. Except of course they have a zillion more newsletter subscribers than me and a few hundred thousand extra dollars in their bank accounts. Not that I’m counting or anything…
Here comes the Truth…
A lot has been written and said about the conference in follow-up blog posts around the web – a lot of wisdom dissemination and recaps of the great things speakers had to say.
But what has been nagging at me, bubbling under the surface, is my need to be fully self-expressed about my own experience – to tell the truth because I think it’s one so many people felt, or feel in other life circumstances, but don’t talk about because it seems petty when everyone else has nothing but wonderful things to say.
So here it goes.
World Domination Summit was a bit of a challenge for me. Not because the speakers were bad. Not because the activities were boring. Not because the hotel I stayed in was the nicest hotel I’ve ever inhabited in the last 25 years, which if you do the math translates to all the years I’ve been alive. It wasn’t even because the people were rude or unfriendly. And it most certainly had nothing to do with Portland, Oregon, which is my new favorite place on Earth.
In fact, by all external measures, World Domination Summit was the best time I’ve had in a long time, mostly because I felt so at home with “my people” – the people who get me because we have similar missions and world views. Certainly a welcome change from my current daily environment.
No it wasn’t any of those things.
It was challenging because of my self-doubt.
Sitting, standing, sharing and laughing amongst some of the most creative, successful, compassionate and dedicated entrepreneurs in the world made me doubt that I deserved a seat at the table.
Before You Tell Me That’s Preposterous…
Yeah, it sounds self-pitying, but I don’t want any from you. I merely want to express my true feelings in a public discourse because I know for certain I am not alone. I know for certain we all doubt our Selves, our Truth. This is why more of us aren’t in the world doing incredible things. We hold ourselves back because we can’t face our shit.
And I know that it’s easy, way too easy, to let that doubt color our circumstances and guide our life path.
Hell yes it was challenging to sit with these emotions of self-doubt. Absolutely it felt terribly uncomfortable. Did I want to go home and cry every minute because I felt like I was so far off from my dream and vision and couldn’t possibly see how I was ever going to get there? Yep.
I brought this up with some of my closest friends. They reminded me about how awesome I am and how far I’ve come. Which is nice, but doesn’t change the fact that I still felt an overwhelming sense of doubt and fear about my future.
To be clear, it had nothing to do with failure. It had to do with doing the right thing for my people. I feel so strongly about helping young women realize that there are alternative ways to live life – to be successful, to make money and to do so with a mixture of ease, confidence and grace – that the thought of not being able to help you causes me a lot of pain. I so believe in the power of stress management and relaxation to change the course of a life that I wanted to run away from my idols because I felt ashamed that I haven’t done more to help.
Okay Here’s the Part Where the Story Turns…Kind Of
But you know what (here’s the hard part)? I’m doing the best that I can. I’m a living, breathing example of the lifestyle I teach, and all I can do is be me. That is what I (re)learned from this conference.
And if that means that I feel an overwhelming sense of shame, self-doubt and discomfort, then I’m not going to do anything to change that. I’m going to sit with it, examine it and see what it can do to move me forward. The minute I try to hide from the Truth and change my experience to align with the experiences of others is the minute I regress rather the progress.
The truth is, the Truth matters. So many of us don’t speak of the Truth because we don’t know how to talk about it, we don’t know for sure how to put it into words and we would feel even more uncomfortable sharing it with the world.
We’re afraid the truth makes us weak, when really there is no elixir out there that can make us stronger than owning up to what is True for us in each and every moment AND then learning from what the Truth can teach us.
Here’s the Big Wisdom Dump You Don’t Want to Hear
Guess what? Life hurts. Being uncomfortable hurts. Feeling self-doubt is miserable, especially when you’re surrounded by incredible people and supposed to be having the time of your life.
But guess what else? It is possible to both have the time of your life AND experience excruciating self-doubt at the same time. It is possible to allow all emotions to come forth in your life. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to smile. And it’s especially okay to do these things when they show up. To this day I still distinctly remember the first time I experienced conflicted emotions at once. I was probably 10 and my dad was out of town for a while on a business trip. He wrote me a letter and as I read it I cried and laughed at the same time. I missed him, but he had written a joke. At the time, I didn’t know what was happening. So my mom and I just laughed about it and that was that.
To show your true self makes you human, and being human makes you more likeable. (Click to tweet)
One of my favorite speakers, Tess Vigeland, got on stage and told us a story about how she quit her job as a famous radio show host without a plan for what’s next. The entire speech was set up to reveal that just a week prior she had nailed a job as the new host for NPR’s All Things Considered. Except that at the end of the speech she told us she didn’t get it. She didn’t get her dream job and instead was back at square one, doubting her decision to leave her job once again and scared shitless about the answer to the question “what’s next?” I loved that speech because it was raw with emotion, truth and reality.
We don’t all get fairy tale endings in our life. We don’t all get ponies and glitter and cupcakes. What we do get is the opportunity to face life as it is and then use what we’ve got to the best of our ability to craft the best life we can live.
And Now for the Yoga Lesson
In yoga philosophy, it’s called the Kleshas. The Kleshas are the mind demons that knock us off track from our Truth.
- Avidya – an ability to see things for what they really are. A donning of glitter and cupcakes when the situation warrants more somber reflection.
- Asmita – an over-identification with the ego and an inability to see yourself as yourself in each new moment. A refusal to accept your changing story, make edits when the time is right and let go of chapters of your past that no longer serve or define you.
- Raga – an addiction to pleasure so great that the pursuit of pleasure itself holds you back from disembarking from your comfort zone.
- Dvesha – An aversion to pain so great that you refuse to step into your Truth simply because you can’t stand the sensations of hurt, loss and betrayal. All unfortunate realities in this human life we’ve been given.
- And finally, Abhinivesha – the fear of death. A clinging to life so tight that we refuse to take risks to move forward. Possibly the most debilitating of all, as those who cling to life will never know what could be.
World Domination Summit reminded me that I’m on the right path. That I’m not quite there yet, and because of my nature, I’ll never feel like I’ve reached there. But more than anything, I’ve resolved to be exactly who I am, fully self-expressed, on a mission to give light to Truth, no matter how much it may invoke discomfort.
As Gretchen Rubin said, it’s self-knowledge that gives us the power to make decisions that will better our lives.
And guess what? Self-knowledge is scary as shit.
Welcome to the Truth.
Image credit: Armosa Studios