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The distinction between self sacrifice and true service

The distinction between self sacrifice and true service

Do you have a history of ‘helper syndrome’? I am using this term to replace more graphic but less palatable terms, like sacrificial lamb, martyr, saint or rescuer.

As I see it, the roots of this syndrome are a mixture of nature and nurture.

Some of us learned to get praise, attention and feelings of significance through being helpful and useful in environments where saying no carried negative consequences that we feared.

Fast forward to adult life and we discover that we are no longer rewarded with gold stars.

Instead, ‘Helper Syndrome’ leads to:

  • Being used by others, causing the sufferer to feel valued for the wrong things, misunderstood and underappreciated.
  • Experiences of invalidation from others, if they wanted attention or approval but, not advice or solutions.
  • Frustration, overload, overwhelm and even burnout
  • Lack of clarity about who and what we are designed to serve

 

At some point in my journey as a chronic sufferer, I began to appreciate the fine difference between self-sacrifice and service. Apparently, due my Pisces sun (the self sacrificing part) and my Virgo ascendant (the service part), I’m wired to learn the difference, including the shadow and the light of such qualities.

While there is a time and a place for self sacrifice in the transformative crucible of spiritual practice, success in the so-called real world requires us to be clear with our boundaries and personal limitations. This puts us in the realm of service.

Self-sacrifice is a problem in the real world, other than in special circumstances, such as emergencies or after giving birth to a baby. However, in those special circumstances we are given the resources we need through raised hormone levels, irrespective of nature and nurture considerations.

The transformation of self-sacrifice to service requires self-awareness, including conscious direction of energies through committing only to whom and to what we feel genuinely called, and designed, to serve.

Over the last couple of years, I have gained enormous clarity around who and what I am best suited to serve, as a result of my journey with a process called Tribal Marketing.

But, just a few years ago, I was beyond confused about what I should be offering – and to whom. I even trained as an Independent Funeral and Wedding Celebrant, planning to leave the coaching and training worlds altogether.

I liked the work but knew that my heart and soul lie in transformational practice and coaching. I’m not ready to retire. I don’t believe that I’m meant to. Transformational work is in my blood. It’s where I belong and where I stand.

Are you as stuck as I was a few years ago?  Click here to learn more about True Significance and Tribal Marketing.

The meaning of life vs. the purpose of life

The meaning of life vs. the purpose of life

‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it.’

 

You may have seen this quote about the meaning of life on social media. Most often it is attributed to Picasso, although I understand the source is debatable.

But the sentiment is simple. And as a guide for life, it is profound (in my opinion).

For most of us, this gift is revealed and honed over the course of life.

The process of revelation can be likened to a dance between the questing and the giving.

As Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with A Thousand Faces puts it, the call is to become a Master of the Two Worlds.

As I see it this journey of mastery is actually about both mystery (the feminine aspect of this accomplishment)  and mastery (the masculine aspect.) The mystery prompts the questing. Mastery prompts the giving.

Mastering the two worlds requires attention to polarities.

Too much emphasis on mystery and you may frustrate your purpose. Too much emphasis on mastery and you may lose touch with life’s meaning.

 

Status and success vs. significance

Status and success vs. significance

Recently, Ive been contemplating status and success vs significance.

That bird in the photo… I doubt that he or she contemplates success. But a bird carries significance. It has an important role to play in the balance of nature.

And it plays its role well. A bird is always true to its bird nature.

But, humans are different.

Add cultural conditioning and most of us are out of sync with our true nature and natural energy balance.

Success and status permeate our cultural conditioning.

Have you noticed the different language used for success vs. significance? People chase or attain success. They seek significance or make a significant contribution.

Early in life, success and significance get confused. Chasing success often hides an unconscious search for significance.

The mistaken belief is that success will bring validation from others – and therefore status. This belief is a poor substitute for the genuine feeling and knowing of significance.

It is not uncommon to hear stories of successful but unhappy and unfulfilled people. Unconscious searching for significance, via success, has an enormous trap.

When there is a high need for external validation, a person is more likely to sacrifice their personal values and integrity in order to maintain the status quo. In other words they end up being valued for the wrong things. I confess to falling into this trap – more than once.

What may begin in childhood, in order to stay safe and to belong, has a nasty habit of continuing into adulthood, with disastrous consequences. Toxic relationships. Burnout. Poor choices that undermine self respect.

But, personal crises can serve as an initiation to the true journey, hinted at in myth, stories and parables through the ages. Mapped out for us all by Joseph Campbell in the 20th century. He called it the Hero’s Journey.

We are unwittingly captivated by the potential of this journey, which is invisibly wired into us. Many of our most loved films capitalise on this by basing their plots on the Hero’s Journey model. (Applies for heroine’s too.)

As a transformational coach, I use this model with my clients, supporting them on their lifetime adventure to realise their true nature, from which can flower more effective expression of their unique gifts through work and in relationships..

You could say that the success of this journey is the discovery of True Significance.

True Significance does not come from external sources and especially, it does not come from self sacrifice. It comes from deep knowing and being faithful to a sense of purpose. And that journey is lifelong.

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

Personal ‘eclipses’ help you to stay on purpose

The American eclipse was big news last month.  My topic this month is what it means to experience a personal eclipse. 

A personal eclipse is a sudden change of direction, perhaps seemingly forced upon us or perhaps following an inner change of heart. The path we were on ‘gets eclipsed’ as a result.

In my experience, this feeling of something being eclipsed, while disorienting, is usually an indication that something in life needs to be reconsidered.

What you may not know about me is that 3 years ago I trained to be a wedding and funeral celebrant.

By chance, the first 2 funerals I conducted were for people of my own age. Thankfully, also by chance, so was the first wedding!

Of course, this made me think about my own life and what was important to me. And I realised, that while I enjoyed being a Celebrant and being of service to others in marking a rite of passage, I did not want to make such work into a full time occupation. It didn’t give me the same feeling of being ‘on purpose’ that I was lucky to experience when working as a coach and consultant earlier in my career.

I realised that I was making choices based on what made sense, given age and skills set. But, my deepest interests were hidden under limiting beliefs, such as ‘I’m too old’ or ‘it’s too late’ or ‘I haven’t got the resources’ for that type of business offering again.

Limiting thoughts and feelings are much easier to address once acknowledged. Since I’ve retrained as an Awakening Coach, and shifted the personal obstacles in the process, I feel ‘on purpose’ again.

For most people that feeling of being ‘on purpose’ makes a huge difference and is needed at every age and life stage.

If you have been experiencing a personal eclipse (which may be associated with the celestial one) ask yourself what might be needed for you to feel on purpose. And if you are in the middle of a life transition, as I was, it’s ok to consider a few options. But, please look carefully at your limiting points of view before deciding to believe them!

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt?

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt?

Have men and women forgotten how to hunt? Is the secret to maintaining passion, sustaining a sense of purpose and using personal power effectively linked to keeping innate hunting instincts honed? 

I’ve been thinking about this recently, reviewing some of my own experiences and observing others around me. This contemplation began while watching the reality tv show Love Island! (my vice this last month)

Love Island wasn’t exactly a ‘back to the wild’ show. Far from that, a group of young, attractive singles are housed in a luxury villa in Majorca. The basic aim is for them to couple up over the 7 weeks of the show. There are challenges and twists, people being voted off and new islanders arriving by surprise etc.

I became fascinated by the journey of transformation that some of the contestants experienced and the clever way the whole show was constructed. The contestants may have been in a luxury ‘fishbowl’, but the behaviours were ‘back to the wild.’ The hunting process was clear.

There was the initial search as both girls and boys preened, showed off, flirted and claimed the person most attractive to them. Then there were the dances of power – arguments, games, alliances and resistance. And there was surrender when some let their guard down and bared their vulnerable hearts. Of course, that had to happen before the relationships became believable to the voting public. (My vice did not include voting.)

It seems to me that these 3 stages –  hunt (or quest), resistance, surrender – are essential for remaining in the flow of life and love, irrespective of whether the hunt is for a partner or for the renewal of passion for work or for enlightenment or for a wild animal to feed a tribe. The hunt infuses a sense of purpose. Some resistance is normal (to the process or from the ‘hunted’). But, re-newal, transformation and being ‘fed’ only happens following surrender.

Modern life does not help us to keep the hunting instinct sharp. I suggest that hunting skills get dulled by online shopping, take away meals and other conveniences. It’s hard for most people to stay in touch with the power of their wild inner core.

If we lead a defensive life, constantly in resistance, we are not honouring the cycle. We may experience stagnancy, repeated false starts and ensuing despair.

All of my mailing list will be too old to sign up for the next season of Love Island. Your best option to keep your hunting skills honed could be through your commitment to personal and spiritual growth!

Awakening is one thing that is not made easy for us in western culture. It’s not even valued! Maybe we should be thankful for that. This is one area of our lives where effort must be made, where we must develop the courage to turn against the status quo and the inner strength to face our personal set of resistances.

A person that engages fully in the type of personal journey that yields results must honour the 3 steps I’ve mentioned. A personal challenge may initiate a hunt for the right teacher, healer, coach or therapist. Certainly discernment must be exercised. And then we must watch for the inner resistances that impede progress.

There’s no passion in resistance, no passion in trying to control outcomes and no passion in not stepping forward in the first place.

I had a recent personal experience with my current coach who did not let me off the hook with a challenge to remain in the flow of my passion with regard to my work.

Initially I felt misunderstood and therefore resistant to his suggestions.

I did some parts work. (Parts work is a structured process and also offered an as an aspect of Awakening Coaching.) I dialogued with my ‘passion part’ and also with a ‘heartbreak part.’ There was nothing wrong with the passion part, which has plenty of ideas! But the heartbreak part said, ‘every time you allow passion free rein, heartbreak is the result. I’m protecting you.’

The unconscious limiting belief was thus revealed! And that had to happen before the brake that my coach was pointing to could be removed.

The impediment was inside me and not with the coach or the programme. There was something that I hadn’t seen that a good coach put his finger on. It’s always a shock when another reveals that which you have unconsciously been trying to protect. But, surrender and vulnerability are the keys to a breakthrough.

How about you? What I point to affects most of us, particularly in mid life during when duty and responsibility demands often take precedence over the wild longings of the heart and soul.

Apparently, the Love Island final had the highest viewing of any ITV2 show ever. I think I know why.

To begin the re-claim of passion, purpose and power, please reply to this mail. Let’s have a chat to discuss how my coaching can help with your unconscious limitations.

I’m off for a week of ‘back to nature’ camping and communing with a group of women in the wilds of Wales. My wild ‘hunting skills’ will be extra sharp when back! 🙂