I want to tell you about a moment that went on to completely transform the trajectory of my life. It was small, and the person who gave it to me doesn’t even know how powerfully her words impacted me (and continue to do so)... but they did indeed change everything… and so I want to share them with you.
“For as long as you’re waiting for him to finally change… you’ll be waiting to finally be happy.”
She then went on to ask me the question that I want to ask you…
“What if he never changes? Are you going to be ok with never ever being happy because of choices he is making?”
I was only 19, and it changed everything.
Not overnight, in fact as a codependent and poster-child for people-pleasing I still had a long, long road ahead of me, but that question that day in that tiny office was the first time I realized that I could choose a different path for myself.
With every new season of life my people-pleasing habits showed up and threatened to derail me. Every big life change first felt like an invitation to regress but then I realized it was actually an invitation to grow, heal and experience mastery on my healthy-boundaries journey.
That is what I hope you choose for you too.
When I was 19 I was willing to change and contort everything about myself, do anything in exchange for love and belonging in my family of origin.
When I was 21, I was willing to change and contort everything about myself, do anything (including suffer acute adrenal burnout and an emotional meltdown) in exchange for love and belonging in my newly found faith family.
When I became a mother at 25 I found myself doing everything I possibly could to simultaneously manage my children’s emotions and the expectations of the people around me, watching my mothering.
When I immigrated from South Africa to the US in 2016, I thought that I had finally hit the jackpot: with a squeaky clean slate I could finally belong. I could be whoever I wanted to be - I could be whoever ‘they’ wanted me to be… I finally had somewhere to belong...
Except I couldn’t, not once did my character contortions, personality perfectionism or empath manipulations give me what I had been craving all along: love and belonging.
All my people-pleasing & codependency ever gave me was pain, explosive anger, resentment, bitterness, a trail of broken relationships, loneliness and bucketloads of anxiety.
Every single season brought with it a deeper, wider and richer healing, and my faith, expertise as a social worker, my experience after 12 years in ministry and the nonprofit sector, and my unquenchable thirst for learning, understanding and practical application of what I was learning was beginning to accumulate and build momentum.
My “growth & healing opportunities” haven’t stopped for one second: even as I embarked on my own entrepreneurship journey.
You see, your personal problems with people-pleasing will always become business problems (just like they become marriage problems, family problems, motherhood problems and friendship problems)...
You might know what I mean, you might be here because you have the same struggles & obstacles:
Constantly worrying what other people think about what you're doing.
Managing your messaging/marketing in light of what you think others are thinking about you.
Constantly questioning your own decisions.
Always needing reassurance from other people.
Being paralyzed by not feeling supported by significant others.
Feeling terrified of hurting or disappointing your children.
Feeling overwhelmed by all the needs & emotions you are managing at any given moment.
Constantly changing your approach and decisions… always chasing the latest and greatest things.
Over-investing in the latest gadgets or secret formulas with no success.
Adapting your style and approach to mimic the successful people around you.
Feeling like you need to be someone else to be successful.
Feeling guilty about prioritizing your dreams and goals over the needs of others.
Giving away too much for free and feeling resentful of your clients.
Struggling to REALLY ask for help and be vulnerable in your support circle for fear of shame, judgement and not wanting to look like you don’t have it all together.
Constantly comparing yourself to others.
Your personal problems are your business problems.
You don’t necessarily need a better strategy or a prettier website or a different personality profile and strengths/talents…
You need to deal with your people-pleasing.
You need to learn how to get back into the driver's seat of your own life, and how to stay there… no matter how scary, new, different and chartered that territory is.
Friend, I have been there, done that and I have a collection of T-shirts.
I am also still there… taking everything I have learnt over 15 years of dedicated formal and informal study and learning how to make it real in every single area of my life.
I know that you know that when it comes to people-pleasing there is a lot at stake:
Your physical health
Your mental health
But did you know that your mission is at stake too?
I didn’t choose how or whether people-pleasing and codependency came into my life BUT I will choose to get it out of the driver’s seat.
I am choosing for it to be a thing I am GROWING through, and out of.
I am choosing to have every single area of my life flourish together.
I am choosing to re-write the script that has been imprisoning me...
Won’t you come with me?
If you are ready to tap out of trading who you were born to be for love and belonging…
If you are ready to trade shame and guilt for curiosity and freedom.
If you are ready to trade fear or rejection & isolation for courage & true belonging…
If you are ready to trade their choices for your own power...
Then I am ready to walk alongside you as we take this journey towards whole life flourishing, together :)
LET’S DO THIS. LET'S FLOURISH.
I am in the process of accepting applications for beta testers of my new Healthy & Heart-Centered Boundaries Masterclass. If you would like to be considered for a coaching & learning opportunity of a lifetime, one that might just change EVERYTHING for you, your life & business - Fill out the following form and I'll be in touch with more details.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
I am sure you have heard that infamous one-liner.
We know it’s true… when we compare ourselves, our lives and our relationships to other people’s, we feel the joy inside of us shrink away until it’s all but evaporated.
But how does this work? How exactly does it “steal our joy”... and why does it even matter?
It's all got to do with GRATITUDE.
Brene Brown, in her groundbreaking work called “the gifts of imperfection”, details how practiced gratitude and joy are inexplicably connected. Meaning, if you want more JOY, you need to practice more gratitude…
Comparison on the other hand, is the opposite of gratitude - it’s actually the act of being UNGRATEFUL.
If gratitude nurtures joy and draws it nearer, comparison starves joy and pushes it farther away.
And how does gratitude nurture joy?
Well… think about how it works - gratitude is the art, practice or habit of expressing THANKS for the various gifts in our lives and circumstances.
Perhaps it is the very act of THANKSGIVING that takes a moment, circumstance, or even a material item and makes it possible for us to receive it as a treasure?
That is, until we are prepared to find something to be thankful for, we will not be able to receive the gift hiding beneath the surface of our circumstance.
This means that the opposite of comparison is gratitude.
If you are struggling with comparison, you won’t see any change to that habit (yes - learnt behavior) or change by getting or making yourself or your life better… you will change that habit by adopting a new one - and that habit is called GRATITUDE.
Hit the comments by sharing your own secrets and experiences with gratitude practices… what has helped and healed your comparison habit?
Mary* was gifted, accomplished and compassionate… and if anyone was a picture of someone called to make an impact in the lives of other people… it was her.
There was absolutely NO reason why she couldn’t be or wasn’t more successful… or so it seemed.
She was doing all the ‘right’ things… She was keeping up to date with all of the latest ways of marketing herself and her services and she was investing heavily into her professional development.
It made ZERO sense that she wasn’t further along than she was.
Until we started to scratch beneath the surface.
Behind the personal and professional development, behind the openness to learn from others (anyone really) was a gnawing sense of insecurity and inferiority… all thanks to comparison.
Mary was so open to learning from any and everyone she could because she was convinced that she could not trust herself to make decisions for her business and her coaching practice.
She always needed a second, third or forth opinion.
She always took forever to make a decision and in fact, the entire decision making process was agonizing for her.
She was constantly second guessing herself.
Mary’s business strategy was in a constant state of whip-lash. She jumped from one priority to the next, and from one strategy to the next...WHY?
Because she was CONSTANTLY focused on what other people were achieving and what she WASN’T achieving, and as a result she was CONSTANTLY reevaluating and adapting or changing her strategies in an attempt to duplicate the results other people were achieving.
Mary was a perfect example of how comparison erodes our ability to hear and trust ourselves and our intuition.
In part 1 of how comparison is robbing you blind, I shared with you how comparison always steals and stalls your progress. (link to blog post 1)
Today, I am going to show you how it erodes your self-trust.
When we get too attached to the lives and results of other people… when we COVET them… we tend to turn towards the ways in which we see them achieving these results and we begin to COVET that as well.
We start to believe that if we were somehow different, if we were somehow less like ourselves and more like them, if we did less of the things in our own unique way, and more like they did- we would have more of what they have.
The more we turn outward, the more confused we get (you’ll notice that success or achievement of goals can happen a number of different ways)...
And the more inconsistent our actions become…
And the more despondent we get…
And the more resentful we become…
Our confidence is slowly eroded…
The more we turn to others and what others are doing and who others are called to be… and the more we turn away from ourselves and our own intuition… we turn away from the very thing that makes us unique and powerful… the thing that, if we trusted it, would yield what we are seeking so desperately.
So how did Mary turn it around in the end?
She had to let go of what other people were doing/achieving and figure out what she wanted, where she was going and how she wanted to get there.
She had to learn to trust her own ideas - trust them enough to initiate them, and trust them enough to see them all the way to the end.
She had to learn to embrace failure or disappointment as a rich and beautiful learning opportunity, and not experience it as a measure of her worthiness as a human being.
Can you relate to Mary?
Many of us can.
Clients like her are exactly why I created The Momprenher Mentorship Program: a 6 week long online learning experience where women are given the tools they need to grow in their courage, confidence, and learn how to hear and trust their own intuition ---> all in a way that empowers them to step out of hustling for their worth, stay present to their own needs and the needs of their families, AND step up and into the success they’re craving as entrepreneurs.
It’s the heart-work that many of us need to do before we can get to the head and handiwork :)
If you’d like more info on this program, visit my website: https://laurendasilva.org/page/mom-pren-her-mentorship
We all do it. And by ALL I mean ALL… We ALL consciously and subconsciously measure ourselves against the people around us in order to figure out where and how we fit into the world.
I know that we know we do it on social media. I know that we know we do it at school; at our kids' schools and/or in our families (sibling rivalry anyone?)
I have done it all, in all the places… Surprisingly though, the area or season of my life that has taught be the most about comparison has been my time in pastoral ministry; and the season I am in right now… serving and growing a heart-centered and servant-hearted coaching practice for other heart-centered servant leaders :)
I remember when (and see how), in an effort to grow and expand the good things we saw God doing in our ministry - we would look over the fence to see what was happening in our neighbors “yard” and see how we stacked up.
We called it “looking for inspiration”, and maybe it was… but slowly but surely it turned into something way more insidious, and way less helpful… we were comparing, and it was stealing so much from us.
Many of us have no problem quoting this famous idiom:
“Comparison is the thief of joy” … I think we can all point to experiences that can confirm it.
My experience, and the experience of my clients points to comparison as a joy thief as just scratching the surface of what it takes from the hearts and lives that make room for it.
1. Comparison always steals & stalls your progress.
When we get stuck in comparison… one of the inevitable stories we start to tell ourselves is:
“I can’t do _______ because I don’t have ________ like (person we’re comparing ourselves to).”
In high school I was convinced I wasn’t as popular as she was because I didn’t have as much money or shop at the same stores she did.
In early adulthood I didn’t have friends because I was the sucker God had called into full-time ministry (unlike her).
In ministry our congregation wasn’t as big as theirs because we didn’t have the right lighting equipment like they did.
In entrepreneurship, I am not as successful as her because all of my children are always hanging all over me and are clearly not as angelic as hers are.
In a nutshell, it’s never my fault that I don’t have what I want, It’s the fault of whatever it is that I want, that has not been given to me by God, life or the universe.
Comparison stalls your progress because it takes the power and control of your progress right out of your hands and leaves it floating out there in outer space while you wait for some magical power, item or miscellaneous circumstance to arrive on your doorstep.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works.
In high school I wasn’t popular because I was a jerk who didn’t like or trust other people.
In early adulthood I didn't have friends because I didn't prioritize the ones I had and I expected them to take full responsibility for our relationships.
In ministry we didn’t have a bigger congregation because… I have no idea why but I can assure you it had nothing to do with lighting displays.
In entrepreneurship, I wasn’t (or don’t) experience the success I desire because I: a) allow my children to prioritize for me (and need better boundaries with them); b) am better at having great ideas than implementing and c) am actually afraid of success and tend to push it away (or run away from it screaming) when it gets too close to me.
Comparison stalls your progress because it tricks you into thinking that someone or something else is responsible for it, and that you are helpless until you get what they have.
… to be continued….
I actually did a short video training on this exact subject where I unpacked the 3 ways comparison steals from you…
You can catch the replay by joining: https://web.facebook.com/groups/831898147554776?_rdc=1&_rdr
I will never forget that time when, after months of agonizing over whether or not to open up about how desperately lonely I was since I started working full-time at our local church. I was married, worked in a communal office, every single part of my life involved other people AND I was desperately lonely.
Lonely to the point of it becoming a mental health problem.
Lonely to the point where I was starting to really resent my job and question my calling.
Lonely to point where it was turning a soft, squishy empath & recovering people-pleaser into a cold-hearted, angry b*tch because “who the heck do you think you are to need love and support when I am not allowed to get any!!!!!”
I decided to reach out to one of my mentors for help and with every ounce of courage I could muster, asked if he had any tips for making friends (I couldn’t think of a more embarrassing question to have to ask as a 20-something).
His response floored me.
It motivated me to take action.
I left the coffee shop with an unwavering resolve to be the least loneliest person on our staff team.
To not settle for a life of isolation and dysfunction.
Want to know what that mind-bending gold nugget was?
Get ready… it will blow your mind too….
When i asked my mentor how to make friends and not be lonely in ministry he said:
“You don’t. Ministry is loneliness. The sooner you accept that the sooner you will feel better about it… here’s arbitrary and out of context scripture that’s helped me feel better about this ridiculously hopeless perspective on leadership” (Lauren’s sarcastic emphasis added).
That was my “OH HELL NO” moment.
I was literally going to go out there and make me some friends or die trying. That day I came face-to-face with my future with Leadership Isolation Syndrome if I didn’t choose a new path.
I am happy to report that I did, and I invite you to as well…
In a nutshell, Leadership Isolation Syndrome is what happens to us socially and emotionally as we begin to grow in the sphere of influence or leadership. Basically it’s feeling like you don’t have permission to show weakness, make mistakes or seek support when you need it because you have an obligation to be strong and well… perfect.
Leadership isolation syndrome is what happens when our unrealistic expectation of leaders becomes our unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
It’s actually extremely common, and almost normal… the only problem is that it's extremely unhealthy.
Human’s don’t magically outgrow their need for mutual support and connection when they enter into a season of leadership and influence… in fact, I would argue that they probably need it MORE… instead we are isolated by the expectations of others AND we isolate ourselves because of our own expectations and more than likely, the shame associated with not having it all together (GASP!)
What I want everyone reading this to know is that just because leadership isolation syndrome is common, it doesn’t have to be inevitable.
If our old ways of thinking about leadership and influence turn out to be a terrible idea, we have the freedom (and the responsibility maybe?) to update and change them.
So, why is Leadership Isolation Syndrome a thing to begin with?
My theory is that our culture strips leaders of their humanity in our perceptions of them. When we look at our leaders, our tolerance or margin for error, mistakes and failure for them is so tiny and we stop seeing them as human to some extent. In the same way, when we step into a leadership position, those same assumptions and beliefs we judge other leaders by, now start to apply to us as well.
So, the extent to which the culture around you and you yourself dehumanize leaders, is the same extent to which you will feel dehumanized as a leader/influential person. What we expect of our leaders will become what is expected of us (either by ourselves or others). When we see leaders more as machines instead of human, we often expect them to leave their human needs or human frailties/weaknesses at the door. The irony is however, that in order to be a healthy leader who leads others in a healthy way, you must first be a healthy human being.
More than ever, the world needs healthy leaders. We cannot afford to become dehumanized and neglect our human needs as a leader or person of influence.
Here are 3 things you need to look out for if you suspect you might be in dangerous water…
Phase 1: Feelings of Isolation and loneliness
The first real sign of Leadership Isolation Syndrome is that you often start to feel like NO ONE UNDERSTANDS YOU or what you’re going through.
You’ll find yourself thinking or saying, “Well no one understands how I feel” or “no one understands me”; “I can’t talk to (fill in the blank) about this, because they don’t understand what it’s like to be me”.
You start to feel that no one can possibly empathize with our ‘human-ness’ because we are in a different category of human as a result of our position of leadership/influence. You start to isolate yourself from other people because you increasingly feel separate from them.
Phase 2: Feelings of shame and guilt
The most characteristic sign of this phase is that you start to feel like YOU DON’T HAVE PERMISSION TO RECEIVE SUPPORT FROM OTHERS… or to have any human weakness.
What usually accompanies this is feelings of failure and shame. This is because, (as we discussed) we as a society expect superhuman or machine-like performance from our leaders and in turn we also expect this superhuman, or ‘perfect’ performance from ourselves and when we don’t live up to those expectations we feel immense feelings of shame and failure.
Beyond that, you may also feel that you can’t confess or admit to these feelings of shame or failure because that implies that, according to cultural standards, you’re a failure as a leader. Which is NOT TRUE.
Phase 3: Feelings of anger, judgement and resentment
Now when you hit this phase, you know you’re in trouble. When you start to feel angry, judgmental and resentful of other people and their neediness, weakness or humanity.
Just like in me, when I noticed my own loneliness getting carried away, and just like in my mentor - you start to feel angry that other people get support and that you don’t and you become increasingly unable to support & care for others when they need it.
I actually did a short video on steps you can take to combat Leadership Isolation Syndrome. You can watch it right here: https://youtu.be/e0h5d3qsoKI