A Passionate Life

DSCF3533Inspired by the courageous, wise members of my July 2014 Trust Yourself program. Quotes from the forum reprinted with permission.


My family and I were driving into town last summer when we saw a blue van pass by with the words “Mr. Pool” printed on the side.

“There goes Mr. Pool,” I said, as we had just hired him to finish hooking up our pool heater. And I had this moment of appreciation for the person who started Mr. Pool.

“Isn’t it great that someone had an idea or had a passion for pools and started his or her own business? It’s so much better than working in an office building for The Man,” I said.

My husband vehemently agreed. After working in cubicles for twenty years in the visual effects industry, my husband has a particular, visceral aversion to The Man.

“But wasn’t there some sense of security when you were working for those big companies?”

I look back to see my sons listening intently to this conversation.

“Yes, but it was false security. There was a set paycheck but you could always get laid off. There were benefits but you could always get fired. And mostly you have this sense of your work being used for someone else’s benefit. You lose touch with your own creative and financial agency. So you think there’s certainty but it’s all illusion,” he says.

Life is uncertain, but when our lives are navigated by our inner compass, tuned to the North star of the crystal of our self-trust, we can flow with the uncertainty. When we’re following a life of independence and passion, thereby living from a full well of Self, we can handle the uncertainties with greater equanimity. The waters of the well absorb the uncertainty and we develop a capacity to trust in life, to make mistakes, to let go of caring what others think, and even to fail. When we’re living a life of passion, we’re also able to remove the expectation that our partners are supposed to provide us with fullness, aliveness and excitement. This is one of the keys to breaking down the rumination, “What if I’m not in love with partner?”: learning to fall in love with yourself and your life.

Yet so few people follow the wild and unpredictable trail of passion. Instead, they follow a well-trodden road paved by a culture based on the assembly line mentality, and from the time they graduate college they climb on the corporate or social or financial ladder with hopes of getting to the top. But what’s at the top? And what is the cost of sacrificing a dream or a creative life for the false security and structure of the predictable lifestyle?

I work with many people who, paralyzed by their self-doubt and their fear of failure, abandon listening to the whispers of yes within and instead hang tenaciously to the cliffs of security that the mainstream world provides. They may have even compromised their sense of self for so long – trying to be the good girl or good boy that their parents and teachers expected – that they’ve lost sight of their dream. My clients often say things like, “People often talk about following your dream, but I don’t even know what my dream is.” Or the clients that have followed someone else’s or the culture’s dreams for so long that when they’re finally spit out the other side they feel lost and rudderless amidst the formlessness of regular life.

As Phoenix from the last Trust Yourself forum so poignantly shared:

To your final point about sucking it up, I think I can relate. Driven by a variety of factors, I too have lived a long time grinding hard within the established structures in nearly every area of my life with monumental financial and generally dismal psychic results. Like you, I’ve done it for so long I don’t even know what I really want and what really fills me up. People have mentioned on the thread for this week’s call about being afraid that without the generally unrewarding but happily distracting structure of their work, they would simply fade and disappear. I’m in that right now. I have no work, and no immediate financial need to seek it. (hooray!) But like you, I am now struggling with how to build a new life for myself in the total absence of structure for the first time in my life. And half the time, I do feel like I’m fading.

There is so much paradox and mixed messages in how we raise our young people. Parents are told that babies need a predictable schedule, so first-time mothers and fathers turn their lives and mental wellness inside out to make sure that their little ones eat, sleep, and poop regularly (yes, we even receive the message that we can control our babies’ poop schedules). We then send them to predictable school and then off into the predictable 9-5 world. But what happens, as Phoenix writes, when we leave that 9-5 world? If we haven’t learned how to create a fulfilling life from the inside out as children because the structure has always been handed to us, how do we expect adults to know how to do it?

Featherlight shared a similar struggle on the forum:

But the structure of work is an externally imposed structure. And when I suddenly find free time I am almost paralysed by it! For a long time I have been aware of this idea that I cannot structure my own time. In the depths of my anxiety/depression I felt that if it were up to me, I would see no meaning or importance in anything. I would not take any action. I would just fade away and cease to exist.

I find I beat myself up about my inability to impose a motivating, meaningful structure. If I do not have a routine I tend to slow down. I find tasks expand to fill the time, while I might avoid some altogether. I can still be quite productive, but I can feel bad on the inside. Depending on my mood a lack of structure can cause me to feel very low. How is it that other people successfully structure their lives? Is it my lack of self trust, or my temperament that makes me struggle? Or am I being too hard on myself, setting unrealistic expectations?

What both of these wise members are writing about is the result of conforming and contorting ourselves to fit into the societally prescribed rhythm and schedule. We learn early in life, from the time we start school, that we have to wake up early regardless of what our bodies need or our innate rhythm. People often laugh when I tell them that one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can honor our son’s innate night-owl nature; his body simply doesn’t power down until after 11pm at night, just like his artist father. It never has and it probably never will. But because he doesn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn, we can honor his rhythm and, thus, he can learn to honor his own rhythm. I often hear from clients that it was nothing short of miserable to have to pull themselves out of bed against every fiber of their body’s pleas for sleep. This might seem like a small imposition in the grand scheme of the world’s pain, but when we’re discussing the topic of how a sense of Self is nourished or torn down, it’s important to consider all factors, and our sleep patterns are one of them.

The repair work is to learn – or remember – your unique rhythm, temperament, sensitivities, likes, and dislikes. The healing task is to learn how to fill your well of Self, not by externally imposed structures and definitions but by internally indicated needs, longings, and aspirations. When you know yourself and love yourself you will trust yourself. And with self-trust intact, you won’t need anything external to offer direction or to make you feel whole. That shimmering touchtone of self-trust lives untouched and untarnished inside your well of Self. It’s your birthright and your wisdom. Are you ready to find it?

Join me for my next 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 program begins on Saturday, November 1st and this is the last week to register.

35 comments to A Passionate Life

  • Daniel

    Hi, Sheryl!

    I identify with what this article says so much!!! It’s true to me. I’ve been “the good student,” “the good son” for so long I think I have lost my self thru all that. I dread having free time with nothing to fill it in, like TV or movies. I think it is related to a huge lack of self trust.

    You know, I have relationship anxiety and that’s how I found you. I’ve always had anxiety issues. My first relationship was short lived, it had all these feelings of infatuation and connection. But it turned out my boyfriend (I’m gay) wasn’t committed in the long run, and I saw no point in staying in that relationship. It was very painful to leave and it caused me so much anxiety for a couple of months, I thought I was gonna die. Months later, I find another man, and I felt immediately drawn to his kindness and his personality.

    He was available and open to a committed relationship, and expressed his feelings for me. But since the very beginning, doubts haunted me. I wanted a relationship with him, but I didn’t feel that much infatuation like in my previous relationship. I’d see him or a picture of him and be doubtful because he wasn’t “that much handsome.” I was very much confused and told him; he was understanding and gave me the choice to enter a relationship and see if things worked out or leave it there. I entered in panic and had a nervous breakdown. The thought of leaving him caused me great anxiety because I didn’t know if I loved him, and that thought killed me. Long story short, there has always been brief moments or a few days of clarity where I see him and it’s the most kind, handsome men ever and I feel so grateful for having him, and infatuation feelings come and I feel connected to him and I certainly don’t want to leave. But the rest of the time I’m doubtful. I’ve struggled, trying to find reassurance in external things like internet tests or articles about what love is but you and I know true love is an experienced lived from within. I am a person with a lot of past traumas, including being gay, abusive father, etc., and I know I might be clinging to physical feelings of “love” because that way I find in it external (organic) reassurance instead of loving from my true self.

    I’ve stayed with him to honor those moments of clarity and self-trust when no thoughts can overcome me, like what you said once you experienced with your husband. I don’t want to lose my boyfriend and our relationship to anxiety and doubts. My mind grabs hold of anything it can find bad about him, including doubting my own feelings and recently even doubting about those few moments of clarity. Thoughts like, “am I staying because it’s safe? Is it because I don’t want to go thru another break-up? Do I really love him?” plague my mind.

    I thank you, Sheryl, for your articles and all the wisdom I’ve gotten from them. I’d like to ask you a favor. You mostly write in your articles about the struggle of relationship anxiety after the honeymoon phase is gone, but you’ve written in some of your articles about those people who had doubts since the beginning to start the relationship or stay or didn’t have infatuation feelings at all, or have had them sparingly. Could you, please, write an article exploring more about this kind of relationship anxiety? Thank you so much!

    • “I’d like to ask you a favor. You mostly write in your articles about the struggle of relationship anxiety after the honeymoon phase is gone, but you’ve written in some of your articles about those people who had doubts since the beginning to start the relationship or stay or didn’t have infatuation feelings at all, or have had them sparingly. Could you, please, write an article exploring more about this kind of relationship anxiety?”

      Yes, stay tuned ;). But just so you know, all of my articles and e-courses apply to those at any stage of relationship anxiety, whether or not they had an infatuation stage. I know your ego needs more “proof” that this work really does apply to you, but trust me, it does. Relationship anxiety seems to cross all lines of religion, geography, race, sexual orientation, and length or existence of an infatuation stage.

    • Ashley

      Hi Daniel,

      I wanted to reach out to you because your post really struck a chord with me, mostly because I could have written it myself. I’ve been struggling with the very same relationship anxiety you described for well over a year now, and while at time it can be quite discouraging to feel like I’m stuck in this state, I have to say that it’s opened a door that’s given me an opportunity for introspection and growth that has been invaluable. I’ve been a member of Sheryl’s “Conscious Weddings” course and forum for a year now, and while I still have a long road ahead of me, I have to say I don’t know where I’d be without it. Not only is the ecourse itself an anchor through this journey of self discovery, but there are some AMAZING and inspirational people on the forum as well (I would definitely recommend going through the course at least once or twice before you join the forum just to get your bearings though!)

      Sending you lots of positive thoughts and well wishes as you navigate this painful but incredibly enlightening journey.


    • klewis23

      Thank you for your courage to write this, Daniel! I, like Ashley, have experienced such similar feelings as you. Some days it takes all I have not to feel anxious about my boyfriend – for some reason my anxiety always seems to attach to him. But I do have moments of clarity, and they are at the most random but meaningful times. Like in the grocery store together or when we are just laying beside each other reading separately. However, I question these times, and I have definitely questioned if I am just staying because I too am afraid of going through another very painful breakup (my last breakup was 2 months before I was to be married). But there is something about my partner, and it seems the same for you, that keeps us strong even in the times of doubt. Something that brings us back and helps us persevere. Maybe that’s all we need.

  • stephanie

    Thank you for this post.

  • keya

    Sheryl, thank you so much for posting this! For almost my whole life I have struggled with these problems. From being the great student in school, from being the top violinist in college (and about killing myself to accomplish it), to having the “best” teaching position as a music teacher in the county, there was a part of me screaming inside that I was empty and nothing would complete me. I continued the drudgery because I didn’t know what else to do and I feared failure above all else. But failure was what it actually took to wake up! My mental health unraveled during my pregnancy (discovered much later that I was bipolar) and I could not work, could not do much more than sleep and take care of my toddler. But the yearning for finding ME only intensified. My friends thought I was crazy and many of them bailed out on me. My husband and I almost divorced but somehow pulled through it. It was an awful time because I was stuck between everyone else’s expectations for me to go back to work (which I couldn’t do because of my mental health) and my desire to find out who I really was. Now, many years later, I still struggle with depression, anxiety and feelings of not being anything but a ghost on bad days. I don’t have a specific schedule because of my situation and I cannot work a 9-5 job. But on good days I’m starting to find who I really am, and that fills me with so much joy! And my husband fully supports me now in my search. I feel blessed to have these moments of clarity and am working towards making them much more frequent. Love and Light to you Sheryl!

    • Wow, what a story, Keya. It sounds like you’ve done some very good work on yourself, and that your true self is emerging. Sending you love and blessings as you continue to connect to your clarity and light.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    I remember growing up. I loved to dance and Itried my best to excel at it. I had a dream i really wanted to be a choreographer. Even though I felt all my life I have a natural gift in entertaining others. My parents didn’t understand it. Well, they couldn’t afford the dancing lessons I needed to become talented and professional dancer. As a child I was timid, shy. Only in dancing I Had so much confidence. My dream didn’t come true but something else I did enjoy was becoming a teacher and I’m proud of myself of what I achieved.

  • Canuck64

    It’s interesting reading this article after a night of crying myself to sleep for the exact opposite reason. I spent the day lunching with old friends surrounded with their babies and baby bumps in their beautiful suburban homes… My life has been anything but conventional. I am one of the few people I know that did follow my dreams, and I find myself craving structure and security.

    At 34 I am married to a man who lives in another country, live with my mom, afraid that I will be too late to have children, and have such a low income all because I followed my artistic dreams: lived in 2 countries, 4 cities, never had a “home”, never owned furniture. I’m afraid of getting ill cause I can’t afford it. I’m afraid I will never be able to retire cause I have no savings.

    I can’t help but feel that there is something wrong with me as I have always been told that if I went after my dreams there was no way I couldn’t succeed. I watch others pass me on the totem pole of success, and wonder if I am not talented enough. Should I give up? … My mother keeps insisting I should. She just wants to see me “set up”

    But perhaps, I am still living under “the man” even though I follow my dreams. I am waiting for them to give me a job. I wait for them to give me my big break. They hold my self-worth as an artist in their hands… Maybe my lesson here is to create my own work?

    … Or maybe, at 34 I should just accept that not all dreams come true. That maybe to achieve my dreams of having a family I have to give up on my career? I really don’t know.

    • I hear your fear-based self writing this post, Canuck, and I know enough about you to know that you have access to an incredibly loving, wise inner parent that you’ve worked hard to develop over the past couple of years. How might she respond to this post? I’ll give you a hint: Focus on this line – “They hold my self-worth as an artist in their hands.” Yes.

      • Canuck64

        well, they don’t hold my self-worth in my hands. That is totally WS talking. But it does feel that way a lot of the times when I feel like I jump through hoops to get a job and still don’t… Maybe I do need to create my own work. Having a hard time with this one lately

        • What I know from working with other actors is that it’s almost impossible to hold on to your self-worth in that industry. It’s a wonderful passion to follow, but as a career it leaves a lot to be desired. My guess is that there’s a way for you to change careers while incorporating your passion and skill with acting. Something to think about…

    • Kat

      I’m am actor too!! And I knew you were just from what we’re saying. I too am married to a man who lives in another country and I am living at my mummy’s. I’m 28 have no furniture and no savings. However, I have started to readjust my mindset. I’ve left London to get out of that chasing after jobs mindset. Back in Ireland having a rethink and a reevaluation. Might go to Europe with hubby for a few years and teach English and just take a step back. I feel at my best when I am feeling fulfilled by other avenues and acting is just the cherry on the cake. But how to achieve this mindset long term?? This is the big question. And I want to go to mainland Europe to experience a new culture and see how it goes, but obviously the unknown is causing all sorts of fear, which is manifesting itself in relationship anxiety. Oh it’s a tough old path! But basically I just wanted to let you know that I am the same as you!xxx

  • Sarah Jean

    Sheryl, I am hoping to purchase this “trust yourself” program this Friday (if that is not too late!) before the Saturday start date. I find this is a HUGE issue with me, as well as projecting my massive amounts of perfectionism onto my partner. Just yesterday we got into an argument because I push push push him sometimes so much to be “better” when it comes to certain things: he should clean more, we should have sex more, blah blah blah. All these insecurities that I have about myself and how I’m wasting away on the couch every night watching TV, how I have NO hobbies, etc, and I project that dissatisfaction onto him so readily. I honestly don’t know how he still puts up with me sometimes. I also project a lot of my parents’ failed relationship onto ours, with the expectation that we should be 100% opposite of them at all times. I’m really excited to work on this, because I’m finally coming to the conclusion that I cannot make everyone else, especially him, responsible for my happiness and my aliveness. If I do that, our relationship WILL be doomed, because no man could possibly live up to that expectation, no matter how wonderful and supportive he is (and he is!). It’s time to finally be responsible, and to stop expecting everything wonderful in my life to just be wonderful all the time without any effort from me at all.

    I do have a question, and I understand this is fear talking. When you mention being lulled into a false sense of security, or not understanding what my dream is, will working on this tear me away from my partner? I fear that if I find out what my “dream” is or do work, suddenly I’ll become a different person and we won’t be compatible anymore, or it will pull me away from him because we’ll no longer be “right.” Will I still be essentially the same person, albeit happier and healthier? This has been one of my biggest fears: working on myself only to have it pull him away from me somehow. I guess you could say that’s the codependency of my parents’ relationship shining through. My mother was never allowed to do anything for herself.

    • “I do have a question, and I understand this is fear talking. When you mention being lulled into a false sense of security, or not understanding what my dream is, will working on this tear me away from my partner?”

      This is among the top three reasons why people don’t do their inner work, and you already wrote the answer: The more you love yourself, the more you will love your partner. It’s as simple as that.

      • Renee

        Sarah Jean,
        You just described my feelings to a T! It is seriously as if I wrote your post myself. The part about becoming a different person when you work on yourself, suddenly making you incompatible and pull you away from him is so much the same as how I feel. I need to do something, thought, so I just signed up for the Trust Yourself program and am looking forward to many new insights to help my extreme need for perfectionism in myself and my relationships.

        • Sarah Jean

          I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I feel like such a horrible person, always criticizing, worried that there’s something “wrong” that I don’t know about, so I over-analyze everything and LOOK for something to be wrong in a relationship that is healthy outside of my own unhealthy habits. He’s supportive, loving, attentive, intelligent, etc. But I find myself “creating” red flags, because up until this point, I realized the only thing that could get between us would be red flag issues, and there AREN’T any. So what does my wounded self do? Look for something wrong to label a “red flag” so I can’t possibly be protected. I fear this will sound like someone making excuses for a partner (another one of my biggest fears, as that is what my mom did for my abusive dad my whole life), but there really aren’t any red flags. We feel the same about money, and while we could both spend a bit safer, we are at exactly the same level when it comes to needing growth. We feel more or less the same about religion. We support each other, love each other, we’re affectionate, we fight occasionally, but not often, and not aggressively. We talk through our problems (when my fear is not in the driver’s seat and looking for imperfections to obsess on!). He’s a respectful person, a kind person, he loves our dogs, etc. He works incredibly hard. Our biggest struggle right now is the fact that he could probably clean more, and it irritates me sometimes, but I also know I have been SO lazy, and a lot of that is probably projection onto myself. But heaven forbid he be upset at a friend who hurts him, or frustrated by someone on the phone, etc. I have seen him angry ONCE, and it scared me. Not because he did anything horrible, or directed it at me, or was abusive, or anything. But because my father was always angry, and so I had in my mind that my ideal partner could NEVER get upset. And for the most part, he doesn’t. He’s such a chill guy. So when I saw he was capable of feeling the anger emotion, I panicked, because he didn’t know how to express himself other than quiet seething, or saying a few things about his friend that were borne of anger. I feel like this comes off like I’m lying for him or something, and I fear this is actually some sort of “red flag,” but good lord, I’M usually the angry one of this relationship, and I never seem to focus on that! So why is it I can get mad and he can’t? Why am I looking for things to be severely wrong with him? Am I just projecting my father onto him?

  • Thank you so very much for writing this post – I’m going through a giant life transition as I speak, leaving my current 9-5 for a much less steady but much more exciting path as an artist. It took me so many years to get to this point, and then I felt guilty. I thought I was too old to be making a total career change (I’m only 31), and the transition of breaking down those walls of fear to try something new has been so overwhelming. I know this is me learning how to live with the uncertainty, without the structure I’m used to. I’m committed to seeing this through, as pursuing my art is the first thing I’ve felt passionate about in many many years, but reading articles like this help calm my anxiety all the same. Thanks again!

    • sarah Jean

      Elizabeth, i know what you mean! Congratulations on taking such a huge step in the right direction. I know I’m nowhere near that yet, but I’m hoping to discover what my passion is and pursue it in spite of my fears. Just yesterday a friend of mine referred me to a stay at home position for a company she works for, because she knows I have been struggling with my health and my mental health these past few months. She herself has a lot of health issues, and she told me about the reduction in stress she felt once she left the “workforce.” And the more I thought about it, the more appealing it was to me. I felt guilt for thinking about leaving my 9-5 job, which isn’t terrible, especially with all the help my boss has given me since I started here. But I’ve already had to take two weeks off to deal with my anxiety lately, and I found I was much healthier at home. I don’t want to be unemployed, and we can’t currently afford it, but to work from home might be a better fit for me. So I’m going to buckle down on my fears and apply, and we’ll see where it goes! Congrats on pursuing your art. 🙂

      • Sarah Jean – I remember being where you are now, as I wasn’t there too long ago. Congratulations on thinking about how your life could be different – it sounds like working from home might be a good fit for your health, and I wish you the best of luck in applying! Working from home does do wonders – I always found myself to be happiest on the days I was able to work from home from my 9-5. We can all do this!

  • I love this post. I’ve had it drilled into my head that the only way I would ever maintain a modicum of success was through the medical field. I opted out of nurturing my talents, and focused on finding “success”. I’ve come to understand that my disposition and patience, as well as my creative abilities are a wonderful basis for working with children– something I’ve always loved to do, but never pursued out of fear of being “incomplete”. I’m now working as a teacher, nurturing both my class and myself! And I can say with the utmost sincerity, filling my well has granted a reprieve from my relationship fears, and truly allows me to see my partner and my relationship for the immense blessing that they are in my life.

    Thank you for your articles!

  • Ashley

    Hi Sheryl,

    This is the first time I’ve posted but I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now. This post really resonated with me. I have many talents like writing, drawing, and singing, and my family has always supported me and praised me, so we are unsure of why I’ve turned out the way I have. I’ve had OCD all my life but was undiagnosed until a few years ago. It typically takes the form of obsessive worrying, which makes for a stressful life. I’ve also struggled on and off with depression for a long time. Since around 2008 when I graduated high school, I haven’t really enjoyed the things I’m good at. I haven’t been the same person and since that time I felt like I lost myself and don’t have a clue what to do with my life. I’ve always been shy but since then I have developed social anxiety and haven’t been able to make friends, nor do I feel a desire to try. I find I make better friends with animals. I’ve always thought that I just had issues connecting to most people and just chalked it up to that, but I’m wondering after reading your blog if it has to do with losing friends in the past. I feel like I’m not close to my immediate family members since around the same time, which really upsets me. My mom and I used to be best friends and now it feels like we aren’t even related. I feel like I should want to call her or my grandma just to see how they are doing but I never want to. It’s almost like I’ve forgotten their existence. I’ve had significant relationship anxiety for a long time now, which is how I found you. I’m engaged to someone who loves me for who I am and has never given up on me despite my mental health problems. He encourages me to get out of the house and do things but I never want to do anything “fun”. I was thinking that maybe I just can’t have fun with him but then I realized it’s the same with my family members. I can’t even have fun by myself. I just want to be a happy person but I’m not sure how. He and I have been together for about four years. When I met him I knew he was what I was looking for in a partner. Within a few months of meeting him, however, the relationship OCD began. It started one night when I thought something terrible had happened to him because he wasn’t answering his phone [he was asleep]. I thought he had gotten killed and had a panic attack the whole way to his apartment. We’ve had a lot of changes the past year. I changed jobs in October 2013, then we bought a house earlier this year, and got a puppy who ended up being sick and didn’t make it. Over the past few months I have deteriorated. I feel nothing at all for him most of time, no connection, no nothing. Like a lot of your readers, I find that I can’t imagine a future with him, but then again I can’t imagine one for myself either. I’m hoping this is something that can be fixed. I feel like if I left him I’d regret it, but I can’t see any way out of this black hole I’m in. I’m in therapy and on medication, and I’m trying to read about all kinds of ways to help myself. I’ve read most of your articles and bought your mom’s book about Inner Bonding. I’m wondering if the best thing for me would be to just be alone for the rest of my life and just have cats instead of relationships [I know that sounds sad, but it’s kind of how I feel right now]. I can’t tell if that’s what I really want or if it’s just anxiety talking. I’m not really “physically” anxious anymore [I was for months and lost about 10 pounds because I couldn’t eat much], but now I just feel empty. I plan on taking the Conscious Weddings course and the Open Your Heart course. Do you think I should take Trust Yourself too? If I learn how to love myself and be happy with myself, do you think I can be happy with my fiancé and my family members?

    I know this is long, but I’d appreciate any reply.

    • It sounds like you’re ready to do some very deep work on yourself, including understanding the messages inside the anxiety and what you’re calling OCD (not a diagnosis that I use as it implies disorder, and people with “OCD” are some of the most intelligent, sensitive, compassionate people on the planet; nothing disordered about that). My Trust Yourself program would definitely help you understand yourself better, and yes, to answer your question, when you learn to love yourself and trust yourself you will love and trust those around you. The program is not a quick-fix, of course, but offers tools that, when practiced over time, can transform your life.

      Just so you know, praising kids has been shown to be one of the most detrimental actions parents and caregivers can do. It’s completely counter-intuitive to everything our culture teaches, but when kids are praised they learn that their self-worth is defined by their talents as opposed to their efforts. Much more on that in the Trust Yourself program…

      • Ashley

        Thanks for your reply. I’ve signed up for the Trust Yourself course and I’m excited to get started. I feel like every time I’ve tried to help myself over the years it doesn’t really work out, so I guess I kind of gave up. But I’m sick of being this way. Out of everything I’ve read on mental health, your work has resonated the most with me. I have this fear that if I get better, I’ll want to leave my relationship, but it seems like a lot of people here have that fear, so hopefully it’s just that: fear.

    • Sarah Jean

      Ashley, I feel EXACTLY THE SAME. You’re not alone! I am hoping to purchase the Trust Yourself course, too, as well as the E-Course when I can afford it, and I look forward to speaking with you there! I honestly feel exactly the same. Exactly. Your comment is probably one of the comments I have resonated with the most out of all the things I have read during my spike-driven compulsive googling. I am finally willing to do the work, too, because like you said, I have always been this way, and never really work hard enough to get past that “hump” into wellness, but I know it starts and ends with ME and I’m the only one that can do this for myself. I can’t rely on my partner to complete me anymore when I have felt like an incomplete person for years, even before I knew him. And sometimes those escape thoughts of “I’ll be better off single/without him, then I can work on myself,” are fruitless, and the Wounded Self talking, because I know if I DID leave, I’d be exactly where I am now: lying on the couch, watching TV, eating a lot, etc. Except there, I’d be lonely, sad, and without a wonderful man to hug me, support me, and love me while I work through my darkest inner fears.

      • Ashley

        Sarah Jean,

        I just wanted you to know that I understand how you feel. Googling for answers is one of my worst compulsions and it only gets worse when I can’t find somebody with my “exact” experience. Luckily since I’ve found this website, I haven’t been doing much Googling anymore. 😀

  • Elisa

    Hi Sheryl! I participated in Trust Yourself in September and I can say it has been an important piece in my puzzle of self-growth this past year. Very worth it and I actually would like to send you an e-mail with more details regarding my process 🙂
    As far as this post, I also wanted to say in case it’s useful for someone, that although I think it’s important to be satisfied in your job and try to work in something related to your passions and capacities, and respectful with your needs and limits, I also think that sometimes we can do with jobs what we do with relationships: always think the grass is greener somewhere else. Maybe it’s like what you say about red flags, that also in a job if there are red flags you should consider leaving but maybe if there aren’t you can see if you are just escaping from difficult periods or situations that are going to always appear, and sometimes pushing through them can lead to more satisfaction that you believe possible when you are stuck. At least for me the work is often not to dream about changing the situation as soon as it gets hard or uncomfortable but to stay, be patient and grow. Hope I made sense and thanks for your work!

    • Thank you for this thoughtful comment, Elisa, and it’s good to hear from you. People can certainly jump from job to job and even career to career trying to fill themselves up by seeking validation, and, of course, it never works. What I’m talking about more specifically in this article is when someone has a clear sense of what they would like to be doing – like start their own business – and their self-doubt, perfectionism, and fear of making a mistake create obstacles and keep them paralyzed and stuck. Many people follow the herd of the culture and get on an assembly-line career track that is completely out of alignment with their temperament, interests and rhythm. I’ve seen this many times with my highly sensitive and creative clients who are in the corporate world and feel like their soul is drowning, and once they make a career-change they can breathe again. Again, changing careers won’t create fullness on its own, but if you’re seeking to fill your own well by learning how to love and trust yourself, a career change that creates more alignment can be a necessary step in carving out a passionate, self-loving life.

  • elisa

    Thanks for your reply, I totally understand and I think corporate America is very tough. In Europe it’s easier to find balance I guess..I have been working part time since I became a mother 2 years ago and I can work this way legally for 8 more years! I feel very grateful to be able to combine work and personal life. I can imagine if I didn’t have this opportunity I would for sure choose a job that didn’t keep me closed all day in an office 🙂

  • Ashleigh


    I’m looking for some advice for my future, Im strongly considering the wedding e-course but I wanted to hopefully get some feedback on here first. I’ve been with my fiancé for 5 1/2 years and we have been engaged for 1. Our wedding is 9 months away. He is my first love and only serious boyfriend ever. My longest relationship before him was 2 weeks. We lost our virginity to each other which I love, but sometimes I wonder what if there is someone out there that is more compatible for me. I love him so much and I want to be with him, I’m just sick of having these thoughts and waking up everyday with anxiety and feeling disconnected from him. I just sometimes feel like i didn’t date anyone else before him so how do I know what we have is good? I’m just so frustrated with all this, its been 2 months of hell to go through and I just want it to be over. I started going to therapy when this all started, but every time I go I feel like she’s telling me I’m not happy with him and that I should leave because If I’m curious about other people than that means I have doubts. Please help me.

  • Sabrina

    Hello Sheryl,
    Thank you for your blog which helped me a lot at the time of my wedding 2 years ago. I enjoyed this post. I feel so trapped in my corporate job, I fell into it and it’s not badly paid but it feel empty and I am scared to leave it. My husband and I bought a house and I thought that’s what I wanted (I studied to be an interior designer), but I find that now I have to stay in my admin job to pay the mortgage and don’t even enjoy redecorating this house! Why am I not grateful we have a home?? I wish I could leave my job and start my business. I am scared, my husband is not supportive and I would not want to put pressure on him to meet repayments on his own. I wish I was free.
    Anyway, your post and all the comments brought me some comfort, thank you.

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