I’m shining the spotlight on my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Shawna Peters. I asked her if she could share her personal journey as an entrepreneur and her experiences in today’s article. She agreed and wrote the content below. Shawna’s one amazing woman and is a featured expert in the Love Yourself First Series: 5 Incredible Days to Love Your Mind, Love Your Body, and Love Your Life! Thank you, Shawna!
Visibility, vulnerability, voice…
Those words struck fear into my heart as my trusted mentor spoke out what I knew I needed to hear but didn’t want to think about. I wanted the connection with friends and clients those attributes would bring me but I could not move forward and hold them as mine.
Rewind 15 years - the biggest rule of acceptance is conformity. It’s a small town, fundamentalist church, “There isn’t any other way” kind of place. Speak like us, be like us, do like us, submit to us - and you are welcome here. The absolute terror of the prospect of having no one at all if I didn’t conform, of being pushed out of the place I was taught as a child would be my home and my community, meant I shut down my voice. I forgot about who I knew myself to be, and I tried to contort myself into the mold of the group. Wildly unsuccessfully, but still I tried.
A place like this teaches you to drop yourself completely. When you give up who you are, what you love and dream of, your thoughts and opinions, your passions and joys, you also give up your energetic and emotional protective layers. You forget that a defense system, a protective layer that keeps you YOU and others themselves, is an innate part of your functioning and well-being. And you accept that you have to take what's given you, even if you don't want it. Even if there’s pain attached.
And I paid the price of splitting myself open without that protective layer. I paid in anxiety, depression, physical and emotional pain, insomnia, and autoimmune disease. I was repeatedly divorcing me from myself, and my body wanted me to know. It wanted me to know this wasn’t okay.
In the end, my body, that I had been taught to fear and hate, led me to new places both within myself and geographically. And before I found my way back to being visible, vulnerable, and having a voice, my body led me to where, deep inside, I had stored my ability to protect and defend myself. Forgotten after so many years of dis-use.
When I started, as a young woman, trying to step out and be visible, be vulnerable, and use my voice, the intense vulnerability hangover cycle of opening up, nose diving in shame, and then roaring in rage was too much to deal with. Again my body was letting me know that without my protection and defenses, I had left myself open in a way that helps no one and was harming me. I became exhausted, depleted, and a shell of who I really was. The goodness of my body wasn’t going to let me go there.
It was just a few words from my trusted mentor: “Did you know that deep inside, you already have a defended place?” She went on to explain that this place would not be like the on-high-alert, yet often wide-open system that I had built over the years. What is innate, seen and healed, functions in a way that is so much different than the defenses and coping mechanisms we create ourselves. The thought of containing something so unforced and flowing seemed almost magical.
Finding that place of defense and protection inside myself was like finding buried treasure. There was such a sweetness to knowing where I stop and another person starts, to understanding what is my stuff versus someone else’s, to the deep realization that I could say NO. Loud and clear, when I wanted to or needed to. It felt like a little glittery lava lamp inside me. It still does.
If you have ever been in a place like this, with similar circumstances or just the same message, then you know the fear, pain, and terror of putting yourself out there for public consumption. You know why it is that you must create a hard shell to defend yourself if you have forgotten about your innate defense resources. And so, I can also thank my ego for helping me create such an elaborate plan to lose myself so I would survive.
That’s all the ego is ever interested in, your survival. It just doesn’t know when you have moved on. You just have to gently tell it, and say Thanks, you can take a break now. Just give it the props it deserves. Without it, you might not be here.
But now, it’s time to speak my words, share my thoughts, and be seen again. To keep on stepping back into me. It’s time to let my inner samurai march around their castle wall to protect and defend me when needed. And yes, I realize samurai and medieval castles don’t usually go together, but today I can honor what shows up for me. I take a few minutes daily to watch them both at work, creating effortlessly for me what I need.
Bodies never lie. They contain endless goodness, healing, and spaciousness. Bodies are our greatest map for reclaiming our WHOLE selves.
Shawna Peters started out in very mind oriented therapy, with a Master of Arts in Counselling, but life had other plans. Her body began to speak so loudly through a number of diagnoses and symptoms, that after years of suffering, she was required to listen. Her online practice focuses on women’s trauma, healing from it and how it is connected to the autoimmune illness, mental health issues and other health problems women suffer. Be sure to download Shawna’s Simple Tools to Support Yourself Daily.