Six months ago, my coach, Danielle, said something that changed my life forever.
“Can we stop for a moment and acknowledge what a Badass you are? You are a risk taker, you are bold, and you are a leader. Use these traits for good and you are going to be a BOSS.”
She was referring to my homework – yes, there’s homework involved in coaching, but it’s the “radical-self-improvement” kind of homework – not the kind I used to avoid, like math proofs (ugh, who uses those anyways?).
Anyway…in my homework I had confessed my deepest, darkest secrets, my most evil behavior, my most shameful acts. Apart from my best friend, no one knew the extent of my shenanigans. I had been sitting on the lid of Pandora’s Box (to hide what a F-up I was), and now it was open.
But this time, instead of re-experiencing shame and regret, I was empowered to feel, deal with, and resolve my past, and take down my badass trait for good.
What did my coach discover in Pandora’s Box, you might ask? Here are some excerpts:
- Running around the university campus with my best friend at age 15, in and out of frat parties, drunk. Running around downtown Ithaca with our “bad boy” boyfriends and being around guns and drugs.
- Raging at my parents whenever they confronted me about my behavior. I threw chairs at walls, windows, my little sister. One time, I punched my bedroom window during a fight with my dad, shattering the glass – somehow not injuring myself but doing hundreds of dollars worth of damage to my parents’ home.
- Selling my ADHD medicine at private school. I hated that my parents thought they “finally figured out what was wrong with me” and got me medicated…I sold each pill for $65 a piece.
- Bulimia. I started throwing up my first year at college (I was majoring in dance performance). I was not overweight, not even close, but the fear was real…We had to weigh in every month and there would be girls standing in nothing but underwear holding their boobs to make weight.
Woah, is right. And that’s only scratching the surface…
I was in deep denial about how much of a mess I had made with MY life. I refused to go to counseling – “f*** them, they don’t care about me. There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s everything else that is out to get me – the dance school, my boyfriend, my family!”
My mom, in a desperate search for alternatives, discovered Handel Group. After my consultation call, I was willing to give it a go.
My first assignment was to write out my dreams. I was shocked. For the first time in my life, I was being given permission to figure out what I really wanted and go after all the way. Until then, all of my actions had been a reaction or rebellion to others’ expectations of me – “Do what you are supposed to!”
Writing out my dreams also showed me how messed up my current reality was. There was no way I was going to get what I wanted if I continued my reckless, impulsive, and victimized behavior.
It’s true that I was a train wreck, but up until then, I hadn’t understood that I was the one sitting in the conductor’s seat. I realized that I had built most of my own roadblocks, which meant I also had the power to dismantle and rebuild them. I went from believing that I was 100% a victim to feeling proud and inspired. Now that I had The Handel Method behind me, I was ready to author my own life.
Almost instantaneously, after I took accountability for my actions (a.k.a realized that “Maybe It’s Me”), life started being designed and happening from me, instead of to me.
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I finally acknowledged my passion for aesthetics, studied interior design, and launched a professional organizing company. When I outgrew that dream, I finished a degree in Early Childhood Education (yes, that girl who almost got sent to boot camp willingly returned to school!) so that I could realize my new dream to change the lives of young people. I became a teacher, and later a guidance counselor, to save other kids from the pain I experienced as a child.
As I worked on my other dreams, namely my relationship to self and family (two of the 12 areas of life we start dreaming in at the Handel Method), I also began to design a different relationship with my family.
Until then, I hated my parents and felt out of place in my family. I was angry and resentful for the pressure I felt to fit their mold, yet I lacked the tools to manage (and laugh at) the dark side of my mind, and have the hard conversations that we needed to have..
The whole time, I had been believing that they didn’t care and that they were ruining my life, while collecting evidence to prove it true.
But with my coach shining a light over it, I saw the impact of MY behavior, MY theories, and how much anguish I had caused them (and me). I could see how they were left with no choice but to send me to boarding school. Through coaching, I finally understood how much my parents loved me and could be grateful that they had never given up on me.
Not only had I been lying to myself, I was lying to everyone around me. Behind my out-of-control behavior was a desire to connect deeply with the people I cared about; to be loved, seen, and supported. Yet all the lying, manipulating, inauthentic BS was disconnecting me from others. People were worried about me; they couldn’t trust me; they were angry, frustrated, and hurt. No wonder I felt lonely.
Today, with my two daughters (Oh, please God, help me to evolve my lineage enough that they don’t turn out like me as teens!), I am learning to lean into uncomfortable and emotional moments, instead of snuffing them out, like when I found out my nine-year-old was having a texting battle with an older girl. My initial response was to confiscate her phone. Instead, using the tools in The Handel Method, I put myself in her shoes for a minute: “Why wouldn’t I want to tell me?” “What would I have needed in this moment?” I stayed in the discomfort of being vulnerable, told her that I would support her, and showed her how sad I was that she was dealing with this alone.
Through 16 years of coaching, I have also seen how I create chaos in my life (and the lives of those closest to me) when I’m in my negative personality traits. I can now name the traits as soon as they appear – ABOVE THE LAW, DRAMATIC VICTIM, SILENT RAGER – and put in promises about them before they wreak havoc in my mind. Instead of being reckless like I was in the past, I channel that energy to take authentic risks that will have a positive global impact.
Remember my Badass trait?
Today, I’m using it to rebel against the broken education system.* I recently left my job to join the HG Coach in Training program and founded Design Your Life for Kids with the support of Handel Group, so I can bring The Handel Method to schools. If only I had the method as a child, my story might have been very different.
Oh, and did I mention that I’m leading the program? As if I would be anything but THE BOSS.
*P.S. I chose a career in education because I wanted to change the experience of young people and provide a learning environment that was different from what I had. I hated school because I didn’t see any value in what I was being taught. I would ask myself, “Why am I going to need this? Why doesn’t anyone care about who I am and what I’m all about?”
Looking back, I can see that school was missing Humaning 101 (aka Inner.U) – a toolbox for developing self awareness, emotional intelligence, problem solving, autonomy, confidence, and other life skills.
From my work with HG, I knew I had a solution and the skill set to scaffold the method to reach young people. I also had the social responsibility to shift the paradigm and break the rules. With our programming for K-8, we are showing kids how they can be their own heroes, and also their own dragons.
We are also launching a Design Your Life for Kids online program, bringing the tools I needed so badly to young children in the midst of a pandemic. Click here if you are looking to develop your own little BADASS tribe- into BOSSES. Sessions for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 graders launching the week of September 15.