An Interview with a Course Member

Lake Phoksumdo, Dolpo, Nepal

Lake Phoksumdo, Dolpo, Nepal

Over and over again, the feedback I receive from my 30-day course participants is that one of the most impactful and life-changing aspects of my courses is hearing from and connecting with other people who are going through the exact same struggles. Despite the worldwide web, we live more isolated than we’ve ever lived, which leads to the sense that we’re the only one struggling with our particular brand of challenge. Because of the role I hold, I swim daily in the common notes that compose the pain of the human song, and I write about those themes as much as I can on this blog. But there’s something about hearing people’s stories on the live, group, weekly calls that transcends even the power of the written word.

Along these lines, I’d like to share an email interview I conducted with a Trust Yourself graduate a year after she completed the course. Her growth and transformation are profoundly inspiring, and she continues, even through new challenges to bring the gifts she gleaned from the course into her life:

1) Why did you sign up for the Trust Yourself program? In other words, what issues were you struggling with at that time the made you want to sign up?

I had been directed by our wedding officiant to Conscious Transitions during a depression that popped up and surprised me post-wedding. One day I read in your blog post, “Life is Not a Popularity Contest”, “The key is in recognizing that the common consequences of damaged self-trust – caring what others think, comparing yourself to others, difficulty making decisions, the fear of failure, addiction to approval and perfectionism – all result from one cause: externalizing your sense of self… Everyone can learn to undo these damaging messages and restore self-trust.”  When I read that, I knew I needed to do this work with you. I was amazed at how accurately you worded my struggle. I thought, “She is talking about me!”

I felt in that moment a recognition that my low-level of worry and anxiety could be healed if I would take a deeper look into myself – as your course was suggesting.

I signed up immediately. The issues I was struggling with at the time were all of these things you mentioned – an overall baseline fear of not being good enough that I had always carried. The fact that you had identified these worries as coming from a place of not trusting my own voice was a huge lightbulb, an ah-ha, that made me feel hopeful that I could learn to look inside for answers and truth and not always want suggestions/advice or approval from others.

2) What teachings/tools/meditations had the greatest impact?

I appreciated the daily emails and saved them and my writings of the assignments as a journal that I go back to for guidance when I need it. I cannot say enough about the recorded visualizations. They have become a tool in my daily life to help me connect to my inner wisdom. Your soothing voice and esoteric choice of words and images really invite one to a transformative placeThe “You Are Loved” and “Choosing An Intention to Learn” are regular go-tos on my iPod for me when I feel the old insecurities creeping in. I listen and am immediately transported to a place in my self that knows I am whole and I feel more grounded almost instantly.

3) What changes in your life came out of taking the course? 

I know, I really know, Sheryl, that this work has led to profound transformation. This is from the email I sent to you after the course ended:

I have to tell you that my life changed because of your 30-day program. Not only did I quit my hospital job to go on my Buddhist Pilgrimage to India and Nepal, I have begun the work of becoming a Humitarian Relief worker – a lifelong dream. My work as a Hospice Nurse, which I returned to after quitting the hospital, is per diem status which gives me the freedom to be gone for chunks of time. I have let fear go and stepped into courage to follow my passion. My first mission is in September, when I will join a small group of committed clinicians to trek into the Upper Dolpo Region of Nepal for 30 days where we will offer 5 clinics along the way. We will be visiting some of the highest settlements on the planet (hiking between 10K and 18K ft) and moving through terrain on the Tibetan Plateau of the Himalaya that has only been open to foreigners since 1992. I cannot begin to imagine what I will learn. I pray (and trust) that I am of service to those we endeavor to help.

I read once if you follow your passion, you will find your purpose. I needed to Trust Myself to do this, and I often have to remind myself things you taught me, so I still listen to your MP3s – so wonderfully supportive – and I continue to trust and KNOW that I am on my path.

Since returning from my mission in Nepal in Fall of 2015, I have been able to listen and trust what my inner voice/knowing is telling me. The experience in this part of the world was transcendent for me. I returned to the West with a realization that my desire/calling to serve others was shifting to a more spiritual than clinical role. My period of discernment following this guided me to apply for my Master of Divinity and I’ll be starting the 3 year degree program this August. I would have never thought, just 2 years ago, that I would be stepping into the role of Seminary student. This is a chapter for me that would NOT have revealed itself (or I wouldn’t have seen) had I continued to live in fear of what other’s think, of not releasing fears of failure or the worry of what-ifs. An MDiv path requires honest and deep self-reflection and I know that the the 30 days I spent in the Trust Yourself program (and the work I continue to do with your tools) opened me up to this process and has set the stage for me to feel confident diving in and pursuing this calling.

A ‘calling’ is not an everyday experience. I had it when I decided to become a Massage Therapist 22 years ago, and I had it again when I became a Hospice Nurse over a decade ago. To feel it again in this context was initially a bit scary but I was able to easily release the fears because I now trust myself – my heart, my intuitive voice, my sense of self.  I learned to know this. I now rely on this inner sense of knowing/trust; it gets stronger with time and with each experience as I move forward from this place of wholeness.

4) What would you say to someone who’s struggling with the challenges that the course addresses (fear of failure, difficult making decisions, perfectionism, caring what others think) who’s on the fence about signing up?

I would simply say that if you are considering the course, but wavering, then give heed to the voice in you that is drawn to doing the work because that is the voice you can trust. The other thoughts are likely worries (about money or time) or fears (what if I see something I am not ready to see, what if I don’t like it) and that is exactly what the course will help with discerning, because underneath those hesitations is where the real truth in healing occurs.

This is from my initial review of the course:

“This course was truly life-changing for me and I am so grateful to have found Sheryl and her work. I would recommend this program to anyone who resonates with the feelings of needing approval, fearing failure, worrying about what others think. It does not have to be this way, and it can be healed, and Sheryl provides great tools for the journey.

“As she also shares in her blog, “like all healing work, it requires time, patience, and commitment, as well as the support of a compassionate community all struggling with the same issues.”  The commitment to the 30 days was easy because of the online community.  There were many like-minded souls, working hard to heal, writing and sharing, and we were encouraged to do so at the pace that felt best for each of us.  It was so refreshing to feel support from so many others, as well as know that however I responded to each piece, and in whatever time, was perfect.

I know the work you do can provide profound healing and I will always be a testimony to that and you.

Namaste Sheryl.

With love,

Rhiana in Seattle


If you would like to follow in Rhiana’s inspirational footsteps and learn how to fill your inner well so that you can connect to your self-trust and forge your path of joy, please join us for this seventh round of Trust Yourself: A 30-day program to help you overcome your fear of failure, caring what others think, perfectionism, difficulty making decisions, and self-doubt. The course will begin on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, and it will be last time I will run it this year.

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