Unmasking Shame in High Performing Women and How to Heal

Have you ever found yourself in what you thought was your dream job only to discover it wasn’t? Maybe you had the corner office, the title, the prestige, and the paycheck to match, but you were miserable. Did you feel shame that you’d give it all up to be your authentic self? You are not alone.

My new friend and LinkedIn Adviser put it best, “If you have a role or job or project and it feels like a nightmare, it’s okay for that dream to change. It’s a life, not a life sentence.” 

Let’s flip the script on shame and help you step into your dream life.

 

Lift the Weight of Shame from Your Emotional Load

Shame is an emotional heavyweight, and as relationship and community-focused women, we face a lot of challenges. GenX women get squeezed between two sides: caring for elderly parents and caring for children. You may feel shame for spending more time with one or the other, or not at all because you’re so focused on work. It can seem like a no-win situation, but one thing to remember is to put yourself first.

There has been a spiritual war against women and feminity for a while now, and part of that stems from being told to keep your emotions in check while on the job. And yet, we are emotional creatures. If you do get emotional, it’s ok. That’s part of being a human being. 

That emotion is one of the reasons I’ve chosen to work with women almost exclusively, though they are invited to bring their husbands, if there’s interest. But women, the balancing act of juggling kids, significant other, husband, job, there’s little time for you, and when you do take the time. Shame and guilt come into play, right? 

But when you’re on the right path for you, you can show up as yourself, and that is the dream. And the dream is real.

 

You are Not Your Job

Repeat after me. “I am not my job.” Now that so many of us can work from anywhere, our lives are more integrated into our jobs (and businesses) than ever before. A mentor of mine always says, “You don’t fire people. You liberate them back to the marketplace because it’s not working on both ends.” There can be shame in losing a job, but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe you were being stubborn and sticking to a path no longer serving you. There is always something better ahead.

I was a financial advisor and litigator who gave my all to my clients. I was terrified to let them down, to fail them, and I was burning out. Fast. I needed a new path and found it as a coach to high performing women and a spiritual healer. Would you ever think finance, litigator, and spiritual healer would go together? Me neither.

We are put on this earth for a purpose which is why I pivoted and switched to the Vixen gathering to help women discover who they really are and that purpose. My three core values helped guide me. 

Do you know yours?

 

Do You Know Your Core Values?

Everyone has core values, whether they can articulate them or not, and if you don’t know yours yet, you will. Take a recent consulting call I had with a prospective client. She felt deep shame for walking off a job, and as we dug into it a little bit, she realized they had violated one of her personal core values. Though it couldn’t be named yet, it was so deep-rooted, she knew in that moment, she couldn’t stay in that job.

In her aha! moment, she found the reason she’d walked out the door. Having that reason helped take away the shame. When she understood why, the shame left, though it was just the beginning of the process of her healing, she’d taken the first steps into understanding who she was and what she wanted at a core level.

We often sacrifice ourselves to help others, but rarely do we take a moment to check in with who we are, what we want, and what we need. 

The one you were meant to have. The one where you choose yourself, first, so you can serve others better both personally and professionally. You deserve to be you. The real you. 

 

From LSATs to LA

Michaela was supposed to be taking her LSATs, and as she thought about it, the thoughts turned to panic, and she decided to book a flight to California. She booked her flight, brought a friend, and traveled, and had adventures. 

She was looking for the person she is now, a loophole, that would tell her it was okay to give up her dream of being a lawyer, realizing as she traveled, it was the stories she was drawn to, not the details of briefs. Being a lawyer, in that moment, no longer served its purpose. She had moved from that path and set course on a new one. Now, she gets paid to be herself. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

Three Practical Tips and Takeaways

Practice Self-Care

 

Take a minute or five, go into your garden, onto your front porch, or just sit at your desk. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. 

Remind Yourself How Far You’ve Come

 

That dream job that wasn’t? Do you still have something that represents it? A pen? A coffee mug? A sticker? Use or place an item near you to remind yourself how far you’ve come. That you made a commitment to be yourself no matter what.

Do Something that is Wholly You

 

Where do you feel most yourself? Go there and meet yourself again.

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