Let's Keep It Real

Instead of writing some fluff piece about myself in the third person to make myself look good to you, how about we be real with each other? I’ll tell you the truth about me, if you tell me the truth about you. Deal? Deal.

I'll tell you the truth...

The truth is I want to help you improve your life and reach your potential, and I believe with all my heart that I truly can. Not because of my accolades or accomplishments (yes, I have those), but because of the depths of my struggles.

How did I go from working at Google, traveling the world, and making more money than I ever thought possible in my lifetime to burning out and getting so depressed I was grappling with suicidal ideation? That was the first of many questions that led me to this point. I just kept asking “why?”

Q: Why did I burn out during the covid-19 pandemic?

A: Oh, because I was trying to start my coaching business, get promoted at Google, and had two children under age four with very little in the way of childcare support thanks to the pandemic… among other things.

Q: Why did I feel compelled to pursue those things despite the obviously ridiculous circumstances?

A: Because of a sense of inadequacy - that I had to prove something about myself in order to be loved or accepted.

Q: Where did that feeling of inadequacy come from?

A: It was “death by a thousand paper cuts.” There were many experiences and microaggressions over the years, (like being bullied because I skipped two grades, growing up brown and Muslim in post 9/11 America, wanting desperately to fit in or be accepted), and they all connected nicely back into my childhood.

I thought my childhood experience of hyper-critical immigrant parents pushing you to “succeed” and live the American dream was normal. Well, it might have been common, but it certainly isn’t normal. I later learned there’s a name for my toxic levels of shame and the feeling that “I am not good” or “I am not enough” called Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (cPTSD).

I couldn’t believe that I had trauma! Me?! Wasn’t that only for veterans? Nope, apparently trauma is far more common, because there is complex/developmental trauma (some call it childhood trauma) as well as what people traditionally think of as trauma (also known as shock trauma).

In the process of learning about all this, I learned about the roles of the brain and the nervous system in the function of a healthy, productive human. Not only did I learn that my nervous system was frequently dysregulated and I had little to no mastery over my emotions and state, I also learned that I am also neurodivergent, dealing with subclinical ADHD my whole life. It was all finally starting to make sense as I put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Q: But why are these issues so prevalent and why weren’t more people talking about them? 

A: I later realized that the entire neo-liberal capitalist consumerist world system we live in today needs to convince us that we are not enough, so (1) we can keep working hard (read: creating value for the business owners) to prove we are actually good enough and (2) we can keep consuming (read: buying the products and services that make the world economy run). In other words, a lot of people have a lot to lose if they don’t make us feel like we’re not good enough. All of modern advertising is built on this premise.

Long ago, I was a big proponent of Personal Development and Self-Help. But I realized that despite it being a force of tremendous good in my life, it was still sending a harmful, shame-inducing message: “You are not enough as you are, so you must continue improving for the rest of your life. To reach the next level, you need to be more productive. More. More. More!”

But why?

Finally, I reached a breaking point. I experienced “ego death.” I gave up the self-image of “achiever.” I didn’t care if my growth line was always up and to the right. I just wanted to be me.

That’s why I believe in actualization not achievement. There’s a big difference. There’s something beautiful in becoming more of who you are and who you are meant to be. That’s like watching the caterpillar become a butterfly. But achievement is hollow. It’s like summiting a mountain then looking around for the next mountain to climb without even taking in the view.

So I left Google to spread this message and to share the knowledge and skills I’d developed over the years. I finally removed those golden handcuffs so I could use my unique skills as a coach, consultant, author, and speaker to help individuals and teams perform better, leveraging the fundamentals of being human - our emotions.

So what about you? What’s your truth? I’d love to hear whatever you’re comfortable sharing. Drop me a line at my contact page.

January 2023