Let’s talk about this curious — and rather unsettling — experience that tends to happen whenever we choose to follow our dreams.

If you’re called to lead — remember, I define “leadership” to include writing a book, exploring more meaningful and purpose-driven work, breaking free from corporate, or building and running your own business — what you’re really choosing is yourself.

When you choose to follow a very personal and meaningful dream, what you are really choosing is your own truth.

— You are choosing to awaken to, and abide by, the core values that define and shape your outlook and experience in this lifetime.

— When you choose your truth, you are choosing to finally decipher what it is that you truly desire — not what you’ll just settle for, or resort to, or fall back on. But what your heart and soul desperately yearn to make real.

— When you choose your truth, you are endeavoring upon a path of self-actualization: to unearth all of the qualities that are nested within you and to reveal them, not just to yourself and those around you, but the world at large.

Whenever we choose our truth, there is nowhere for the rest of us to hide.

Our needs become clearer. Our desires become more necessary to understand, communicate with, befriend, and hold near. Our sense of self — who we know ourselves to be in the world, and how we are now seen and received by others — all begin to shift and change.

But do you know what else gets unearthed in this process of soul-excavation as we choose ourselves and choose our truth?

Our shadows.

Why Does Our Baggage Emerge When We Answer Our Dreams?

In what can be most startling when you’re just starting to claim your calling, our shadows and wounds, self-limiting outlooks and traumas, insecurities, and vulnerability all come rushing to the fore.

When we choose our truth, there is nowhere for the whole truth of us to hide.

And our truth includes our self-limiting beliefs, our baggage, our fears, worries, doubts, and insecurities.

They are our truth, too.

When we are called to lead, serve, create change, make art, uplift others, or fight for justice, we experience extremely personal and oftentimes daunting confrontations with our inner world and the unhealed aspects of our pasts and our present.

When those shadows and wounds start to express themselves in our journeys as budding leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs, bad habits begin to develop.

We begin to dig ourselves into a hole of our own making.

Before we know it, we’re stuck doing things that take us further and further away from the path we wanted to take:

  • Self-isolating as we “try to figure it out” all of our own
  • Spreading ourselves too thin and begin to lose direction
  • Mis-prioritizing our already limited time, focus, and energy
  • Throwing thousands of dollars at Band-Aid solutions to deeper worries and fears
  • Doubting our worthiness or deservedness of what we say we want the most
  • Questioning our priorities and feeling guilty for choosing ourselves over family, friends, or partner time
  • Encountering overwhelm, burn-out, writer’s block, frustration, self-doubt, self-pity…

When you’re dug into a hole like this, let me tell you, life is no fun.

The work you’ve chosen — that you know, deep down, is a privilege and honor to do — feels more like a burden and a curse than a calling, or something that fuels, honors, and invigorates you.

I’ve been there.

And I’ve seen these patterns play out, hundreds of times, with hundreds of different folks:

Talented, smart, driven, determined, capable, confident, incredibly accomplished people. Survivors and overcomers. Lifelong rule-abiders and lifelong rule-breakers. Corporate exiles and former executives. Self-starters, full-time homemakers, artists, and yoga teachers.

It doesn’t matter who you are, because when you choose your truth, there is nowhere for the whole truth of you to hide.

If you want to step into the light, all of your shadows will follow.

Reflection Prompts

If you’ve been feeling the weight of your shadows or self-limiting beliefs, I have some questions for you to ask yourself, reflect upon, and journey through.

Use your discernment and creative mind to unpack the origin and source of these burdensome feelings, for you:

1) What is one of the stories that I’m telling myself that feels like it is holding me back?

2) What beliefs, myths, or ideas are contained within that self-limiting story — especially about who I am, my abilities, what I deserve, or what I’m capable of?

3) How long have I been bumping up against these self-limiting beliefs? From where did I inherit them (society, culture, family, upbringing, etc.)?

4) Are these beliefs and stories really roadblocks that I cannot pass, or are they invitations to change, learn, and grow? If so, how might I try?

What has emerged for you, friend?

What have you learned, recalled, or connected about the perceptions, beliefs, or circumstances that feel like they are “in your way”?

What are they begging you to find and feel some clarity around?

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you 7 “ladders” or core experiences that I believe are absolutely essential for helping you climb up out of the hole you’re in — so you can get back on your path again.

I’ve built these experiences into Claim Your Calling℠ and, even if now isn’t the right time to join, you can still use them to orient exactly what you need by way of supports in your own journey today.