Did you know that past experiences – most of which have NOTHING to do with style or fashion – can definitely hold you back when it comes to building a wardrobe that really expresses your true personality?
CAUTION: SOUL BARING AHEAD. I hope you’ll stick with me, though.
I recently went in for some hypnotherapy. No, I’m not a smoker. But, I figured that if it could work for smoking, then it could also work for this bizarre conference room phobia I’ve been developing for about 7 years.
Elevators? No problem. Revolving doors? Those are fun! Tiny powder rooms? Come at me, bro!
But conference rooms? No dice.
I understood it wasn’t a small space problem, but, rather, a close-to-other-people-in-a-closed-room problem. And, honestly, it was getting really inconvenient. I don’t attend lots of business meetings – but, on occasion, I need to sit in a room with a group of people and be involved in an important discussion. I need to be able to do these things without hyperventilating or gritting my teeth through unrelenting waves of compulsion to get up and run out of the room.
So, 90 minutes of hypnotherapy, and now I can sit in meetings and only feel about 5% anxiety, when, before, it was about 95% anxiety. Big improvement, right?
What I learned from my session was that there were all these previous incidents in my life that created patterns within me. None of them had anything to do with conference rooms or business meetings, but, for some, unknown reason, my mind channeled that into a fear of being in small spaces with others.
So, it got me thinking, were there any other patterns that were subliminally or unconsciously causing me to hold myself back?
The answer: yes. There was one that came to mind.
The thing that held me back from being authentically expressed for the first 30 years of my life was a feeling that I wasn’t worth it, that it was too much trouble, that people might see me and think, “what gives her the right to look so smashing?”
I avoided exploring the glamorous side of my style because, for some reason, I didn’t think I deserved to look or feel glamorous.
I didn’t think these exact thoughts every time I went shopping or got dressed for something – but it was a pattern of thinking, a foundation of belief, that had built up over the years. It was my default belief about myself, and I believed it as gospel.
So, how did this happen? I suspect it had something to do with a pattern of events where maybe there was a bit of bullying toward me by other girls. I’ll explain briefly:
Age 7 – The girl who lived next door went from being my best friend (we shared the same birthday!) to sworn enemy practically overnight, then recruited most of the girls in the neighborhood to her team (or, at least, that’s how it felt).
Age 14 – Two girls a grade higher than me heard I was talking shit (I probably was), and taunted me every time they saw me in the halls at school. I had enemies for YEARS because of that.
Age 28 – Okay, this actually sucks. I reported a supervisor for sexual harassment, and he retaliated by telling all the other girls in my department something about me so heinous that I was ostracized and sabotaged until I was downsized six months later.
(That last one was a doozy. And I probably should have sued.)
But here’s the point:
For years I absorbed up and fermented in this feeling that I had no right to look and feel amazing. And, although I suffered though some legitimate bullying and shaming at the hands of a few jealous, basic bitches, the decision to put my style on mute was all my own.
Once I realized that no one’s approval was necessary – not these girls who had bullied me, not anyone’s in the world – I was finally free to open up and allow the true, authentic style already within me to unfurl and reveal it’s magnificence.
The more I talk to clients and women in general, the more I realize that we’re experiencing a shame epidemic. And, if I haven’t made it clear what it means to shame other women, it includes everything from internal judgement to open hostility, all for the purpose of blotting out another woman’s expression.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably experienced some shame or shaming. Heck, you’ve probably shamed another woman in your lifetime as well (we’ve all done this at some point). But, what I want you to understand from this post I’m writing here is that, we can all be free of soul-crushing SHAME if we acknowledge the source within us and simply make the decision to let it go.
So, if you’ve got all kinds of hang-ups about dressing the way you really want to dress, if you have this unexplained resentment toward other women, if you’ve ever felt intimidated by fashion – look for the patterns of shame in your life. And, I should warn you, the sources of your shame might be people very close to you. Just forgive them, for they were likely shamed at some point in their life as well.
Find it, identify it. Acknowledge that it was hurtful to you and that it caused you to limit yourself. Then take responsibility and choose to allow yourself to have what you want.
Make peace with the past, because it’s the only way to move forward.