Is it possible that the things we consider flaws in ourselves can actually be our gifts? Is it possible that by embracing those places we try to suppress, hide from the world, feel ashamed by, we can alchemize them into something like a superpower? Could they actually be our gold?
For this alchemy to work, you first need to bring an open mind. Consider this a thought experiment, something to try on, not something to necessarily take home. You only get to take it home if it feels resonant, like an authentic YES for you. Otherwise, you get to let it go.
Ready? Let’s begin.
1.Choose a part of yourself you might be trying to fix. A perceived flaw. Something you try to hide from the world and feel embarrassed by. (You don’t have to pick the heaviest one, maybe start with something less charged)
2. Imagine how this part of you can be a gift. Literally, just use your imagination and riff on how this could be true, how this part of you is actually a gift. Make it up. Pretend. Act as if. And write for 5 minutes quickly.
3. Take it a step further. How is this piece of you actually your gold? How is this part of you essential in the work you do in the world? In the way you are of service? How is this piece of you JUST RIGHT?
Here are some examples:
One of my favorite coaching clients came to me with a lot of shame about how she didn’t want to be social, how she felt like she was always faking it, how she didn’t want to be out in the world in the way that the world was asking of her. She was feeling crabby about it.
“What if there’s nothing to fix about you?” I asked. “What if the truth (that you don’t want to leave your house much these days except for walks in nature) is neutral? What if there’s nothing wrong with you?”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Ohhhhh….” she said… and I could feel the wheels turning in her mind.
“What if you’re a radical introvert? Someone who needs a lot of quiet and time alone to fill yourself up. This is how you get energy and feel resourced for when you are out in the world.”
The idea that she was a radical introvert was a game changer. No shame. Totally neutral. And actually, maybe even something to celebrate.
What are the gifts in this? We mused together.
She is a writer. She is a reader. She has big capacity for stillness and contemplation. She wants to write a book and will be able to do this because she craves the time a writer needs to sit in the quiet with her thoughts and words.
She is also a wise and gentle being. (Especially when she gets what she needs from her radical introvert time!) She can be of service most when she nourishes herself this way. Her radical introversion is her GOLD. Not everyone can sit with their words/thoughts this way. She can.
Here’s another example:
My friend Mati Rose is an incredible artist and painting teacher. As we walked recently, I told her about this lesson. “Let’s try it out on you!” I suggested. “What part of you do you feel embarrassed about or try to hide?”
“Ugh. I’m disorganized. I’m messy. I feel like I gotta get my shit together. I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants all the time. I’m the opposite of Type A, I’m Type B! Whatever that is!”
“Okay,” I responded, “what are the gifts of being Type B?”
“Hmmm…. Well, I’m very spontaneous. We wouldn’t be taking this walk if I wasn’t spontaneous! (We had texted each other just minutes before we decided to meet) And it takes some willingness to be messy to do the work I do. To do abstract painting you have to be comfortable not knowing where you are going. You have to be willing to literally get messy, paint all over the place, to get somewhere interesting. You have to trust the mess, to trust the process, to get to something authentic.”
“What else? You’re doing great!” I cheered. “How is your Type B personality actually your gold?”
She got stuck there. Her inner critics started to creep in. So I told her what I saw:
“The process of creating is imperfect and messy. Your willingness to not be perfect gives your people so much space to be their real, human selves. You offer so much compassion to them because you know that the best work comes from when you are able to let go of doing it “right” and tolerate being the unknown/in the mess for a while. If you needed everything tied up in a bow all the time, you wouldn’t have any capacity for the intuitive painting process.
The ways you are Type B, make you a really safe place to try something new. It feels gentle and compassionate. True creativity is born from a place where you don’t know what’s going to happen. Your spontaneity is a gift in this way. You know that magic comes from not having it all figured out.”
Okay sweet friends. It’s your turn. Give it a shot and tell me what you discover in the comments!
P.S. This is the kind of lesson you will receive in the Conscious Girl’s Dating Circle. This would land squarely in the realm of self-compassion! By leaning into our authentic selves (and celebrating and loving all of our parts) we will more swiftly be attracting the right spirits into our lives.
Let’s date! I mean, let’s do it! 😉 And could you forward this note to anyone in your life you think could benefit from it?
I’ve been dating (mostly online) for the last few years and according to my friends, I am having a freakishly positive experience. I will be sharing lots of personal stories (juicy, tender + hilarious ones!) and creating a space where we can learn how to use our dating experiences to grow our courage, hone our intuition and cultivate more joy. In other words, there is a way to have dating be a delicious and meaningful end in and of itself and not just a means to an end.
You can find more details here! Class is $147, but enter the “EARLYGIRL” coupon code to get the course for $99
P.S.S. Off to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico today to teach photography! Follow me on Instagram + FB! I will be doing some serious color collecting + inspiration gathering there.
Oof this is a tough one. I’ve been struggling with how I always seem to say the wrong thing: exactly what I’m thinking, or a less finessed way of asking for something. Its been causing me pain. Gonna try and spin this one into gold
Love this concept!! I’ve always thought that my ability to overthink everything and to always find something to worry about must be a superpower in some way!! I’m constantly trying to fix it and stop doing it as I think I will feel so much more relaxed and in tune if I do, but maybe it can be used for good as well.
I’ll have to try this one out and see what I can come up with 🙂
This resonates with me today, as it’s something I’ve been working on these past few weeks: self-acceptance. I saw the film A Wrinkle in Time today and this idea that our perceived flaws may be our greatest strengths was a major theme. I desperately want to be self-disciplined, motivated, able to see the bigger picture and follow a bliss I wish I could identify. Instead, I lolly-gag, procrastinate, and daydream. I read and take photos and want to write but can’t connect to my own voice. I’ll be mulling this over for days to come. Thank you for sharing this!
Love this post, Andrea! It’s perfect. I have so many pieces of gold to mine from this. 😉
I am also a radical introvert like the client you describe. I was just contemplating the shifts I need to make in my daily routines to accommodate and embrace this rather than force myself to continue what I had been doing. I know if I give myself the quiet, the time in nature and the space to create, that amazing things will come out. Your post was perfectly timed for me, an acknowledgement from the Universe. Thank you
Andrea, – excellent post. I really appreciate your consistent “glass 1/2 full” philosophy in life.
I bet when someone gives you lemons -you most likely make the best lemonade ever.
Thank you for your thoughtful reminders that at the end of the day – we’re all going to be ok.
This is a soothing balm for the soul today… thank you Andrea!
I attended a leadership retreat for work a few weeks ago, and it almost killed me. It also made me feel horrible about myself–like there is really something wrong with me because there is no part of me that wants to talk talk talk talk for four days straight. It was so stressful and overwhelming I just wanted to cry. But no – I am a radical introvert. Thank you for this post!
Whats up are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!