Learning to Be Gentle

I wanted to hang up the phone instead of continuing to dig into challenges. My coach/therapist (sometimes I’m not sure which I should really call her as all the “business” and “personal” seem to be intermixed so often) and I were deep into conversation.

I always think we’ll be focused only on business and somehow we usually end up dealing with versions of my 5 year old self trying to run my business.  This time I was finally moving a little later in life though, which was a welcome change.  Growth!

It had started with my resistance to allowing others to help me with a particular project. As we drilled into exactly what was going on, we came back to guilt that felt like a dark cloud I had to face.

8 years ago, I left a religious group…  I was very involved and pulled others into the group (realization: we each make our own choices, it’s crazy egotistical to blame or credit myself with another person’s choice, even if I made a suggestion or planted an idea, I don’t control the choice).

All the while I was there, I felt that pulling, stirring of my intuition sometimes whispering and other times screaming… but I hadn’t learned to trust myself. Instead I allowed the emotions and convictions of others to become my own and knowing it didn’t quite feel right, I sought comfort in seeing the assuredness of those around me instead of finding it in myself.

How could I not have seen? Why wasn’t I strong enough to make sense of the confusion?

Guilt. Anger. Resentment. Tears and gut-wrenching self-examination.

The feelings were pushing their way into my business again. I was afraid I’d let people down and lead them the wrong way, even though the teaching I do in business is completely different and something I can be sure of.

The reality of truth can be overwhelming.

I desperately wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to understand God, my purpose, all the questions…

And instead of allowing myself time to seek the answers, to discover a loving Creator, I picked up a little box of ready-made solutions and prescriptions to make me perfect.  (Don’t skip doing the work–if it’s the truth, you’ll be led back to it.  Always question.)

Perfection isn’t in a list. It’s in every day, the little moments, finding the joy and peace in life and striving to become the best version of who we were created to be.

Imperfection is beautiful. It’s what brings us together.

Why share this? I screwed up. I made mistakes. Facing them feels like walking through fire in my soul.  And for years, I resisted it, until it became unavoidable.

I was allowing the fear of that fire to stop me, protecting myself from the heat by staying frozen in place… preventing myself from moving forward into what’s next…

Keep walking. The fiery feeling proves I’m still alive and I have time to make better choices. Old choices, old selves burn away to allow for the next. And every next is more beautiful, honest and true.

“I chose and my world was shaken. So what?
The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not.
Stephen Sondheim

Strength comes from living our own journey in life, learning to trust our own wisdom, pushing through the valleys and climbing the mountains, embracing the darkness to find the light that’s inside ourselves instead of seeking it externally.

So I’m learning to be gentle with myself. To forgive myself for the times I couldn’t do what I wish I had, because looking back I see more clearly. To allow grace in my own story.

What’s the lesson I want to share with you?

Whether you’re feeling guilt over past choices or parts of your life journey, seeking perfection, putting your soul through fire, feeling like your world’s been shaken… whatever dark parts of life and self you deal with…

…the rest of us need you.  So keep moving and be gentle with yourself.


Allow a little more grace in your story.  You’re still writing.  You aren’t done yet.  And neither am I.

(Note: I’ll be back to the regular business blogging and marketing how to posts you’re used to from me next week. Got some cool resources lined up to share for WordPress and traffic generation as well as affiliate marketing strategies.  Stay tuned!)

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  1. Sending you huge giant ((HUGS)) and sharing a little bit of your vulnerability :D You are loved by many, Michelle, on different levels of course! But you ARE loved all the same! This inspires and encourages so many of us that feel the same way about things in our lives. It gets better! Sometimes we really need to step back, breathe and take care of ourselves. Thanks <3
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Monday Magicks ~ Ride the Wave &#8211; Advice from the Enchanted Map OracleMy Profile

    1. Thanks for the hugs, Kimberly. I’m finding that moving forward requires a lot of working through the past. Not my favorite thing to do, but understanding myself better is the only way to change and grow. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  2. I can relate to your experience. we are both alive.
    Thanks for sharing persoanl information. It takes courage.
    Malika Bourne recently posted… Is Your Weight Being Sabotaged?My Profile

    1. Malika, it’s great to be alive, isn’t it? :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Committed to Being Real?My Profile

  3. If you numb yourself to pain, you’ve also numbed yourself to love.

    You’ve remained open and vulnerable … the actions of a wise woman. (Has nothing to do with age)

    A few months ago I was doing a meditation – my type of meditation – and I repeated this mantra” I forgive myself for the things I did that I now realize I shouldn’t have done. I forgive myself for the things I didn’t do and now realize I should have done.” Incredible experience. It was liberating … the answer to a question, one that haunted me most of my life, was revealed to me. Forgiveness is powerful and it begins with forgiving yourself.

    Michelle, you’re awesome – as I tell my children and clients “it’s all about one’s intention” and YOUR intention was good.

    Keep doing your work! You are helping others with their challenges.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Adalia John recently posted… A Collection of Creativity PoemsMy Profile

    1. Ah, not sure about the wisdom… I hope only that I’m wiser than I was yesterday and that tomorrow I’ll be a little bit wiser than I am today.

      Great reminder–it’s not worth it to close yourself off to the painful emotions, it means you lose the wonderful ones, too.

      That’s a beautiful mantra, Adalia. Thank you for sharing it.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  4. Love love love this post. Thanks for being so transparent! This is my fave of the whole thing: “Don’t skip doing the work–if it’s the truth, you’ll be led back to it. Always question.”

    BRAVA! Great realization you came to. I can understand. I’ve been in that same situation (religious organization) and experienced the shame/guilt that comes with “coercion marketing”–that’s what it is really. Believe xyz…or else.

    Anyway, the greatest lesson I’ve learned is exactly that. We sing/preach/talk about “amazing grace” but the most amazing grace of all is that which we extend to ourselves and then lavish on others from a place of love, healing and kindness. It’s unlimited because it ties us to the heart of God.

    Thanks for sharing this…just what I needed on a Sunday morning. :)
    Steve Rice recently posted… 023: AWAKE! Podcast – The Importance of Doing the Work You LoveMy Profile

    1. That one took me a while to allow myself to realize (you’d understand how groups are with being sure that you only ever read their literature and that you’re afraid to read/study anything else). We should never fear questioning, even when it’s uncomfortable, because it’ll always lead us the right way eventually if we’re open to the truth. The moment I allowed myself to question was the beginning of the end for that particular variation of belief.

      Yes, I’m coming around to a vision of God that is so much more loving, forgiving, and healing than I’d ever imagined. It’s more than a song… :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  5. Oh Michelle, I love how real you are here!
    Love that you are giving permission to others to step up and be even more authentic.
    You are such a beautiful leader.
    Can’t wait to see you grow more and more into that as you learn to trust yourself even more fully.

    Much love!!!

    1. I have a wonderful guide and example, Therese. Thank you. (((big hugs)))
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  6. Powerful awareness and message. Thank you for sharing.
    Linda Luke recently posted… Honor What You Already HaveMy Profile

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Linda. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  7. Brave post! thanks for being so open and speaking truth to power, even when the power is your own history :-).

    1. Hey Shel, you know a bit more of the back story than I’ve shared here… since you and I “met” way back then. Thankfully, change is possible in so many ways! :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Are You Committed to Being Real?My Profile

  8. Thank you for sharing. That was an amazing, heartfelt and well written read. No matter what the challenge, God carries us safely through the struggle.

    1. Thanks Mary Beth. I know you understand being carried through struggles. ((hugs))
      Michelle recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  9. Thank you for this motivational post that says we’re all capable of confronting and overcoming our greatest fears. The fear of failure. The fear of not being good enough. I think we all need to learn how to be gentle with ourselves, despite the push for perfection and pleasing others as well as ourselves. Cherish the moment. Let go of worrying about mistakes. If the list is too long, chop it down to what’s important to YOU. Thank you, Michelle, for putting this out here for us all.
    Beth Camp recently posted… The lowly Francolin . . .My Profile

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for reading and commenting. You’re right – we’ve got to figure out what our deepest values really are, what’s the most important to us, and keep that as our most important focus.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Does Your Business Blog Feel Like Wasted Time?My Profile

  10. So true, Michelle. It took me many years to learn to be gentle with myself. It’s so important to forgive ourselves, so we can be all God created us to be. I’ve learned to love myself, like God loves me, and what is even better is I have learned to forgive and love others too. It truly is a peaceful and powerful place to be. I believe we are all trying to do the best we can. If we just think for a moment of the grace that we were given, how can we not give that same grace to others? Thanks, Michelle, for being a blessing.
    Julie Henderson recently posted… A KEY TO SUCCESSMy Profile

    1. Beautiful perspective, Julie. There is so much peace in realizing that.
      Michelle recently posted… Are You Committed to Being Real?My Profile

  11. I feel your pain! I’m working with a new coach this year and every time we are on the phone, we end up talking about my inner game. Who KNEW?? Good luck in all your endeavors Michelle!
    Martha Giffen recently posted… Best Productivity Tips for 2013 Online Business SuccessMy Profile

    1. I know, crazy, isn’t it? LOL It’s amazing how much really does come back to the inner “stuff” we’ve got going on. Good thing smart coaches can help us with that. ;)
      Michelle recently posted… It’s Time to Kill Your Writer’s BlockMy Profile

  12. Great share, Michelle. Being there is one thing- willing to share to help others- that’s priceless.

    1. Thanks, Roy. Not an experience I’d wish on anyone, but I know I’m not alone. I can only hope that being open about it helps someone else. Definitely learning a lot of lessons myself through it.

  13. Michelle thanking you for sharing this post. There was so much wisdom and truth that you included and it’s so permissive – it gives everyone who reads it the permission to share and learn and grow just as you are. Thank you
    As a coach I always chuckle to myself when I work with my business clients when they come to the realisation that they are in many respects their business – the 2 parts are not 2 separate entities. They are intertwined in such a delicious way and exploring, discovering, learning, evolving and experiencing the 2 parts simultaneously can reap the greatest rewards. If I hadn’t recognised this for myself I am sure I wouldn’t be able to be the person I am or lead by example as I express as a masterpiece in progress, something I believe we all are
    Looking forward to what comes next from you, as always

    1. Hey Shannon, that’s something I am discovering over and over… it’s all so intertwined! As we chatted about on your Creative Possibilities Show, this year I’ve done more work on myself than on my business but my business has grown so much because of it.

      I like that – “masterpiece in progress” – beautiful.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Does Your Business Blog Feel Like Wasted Time?My Profile

  14. it really a great post, i really like all the point thanks for sharing.
    bhavesh recently posted… Top 5 Best Smartphones Under 10000 And Their SpecificationMy Profile

    1. Thanks for commenting, bhavesh.

  15. Dear Michelle,

    You picked the perfect time to post this. It’s interesting how God works things out in timing. I especially liked: “So I’m learning to be gentle with myself. To forgive myself for the times I couldn’t do what I wish I had, because looking back I see more clearly.” I really appreciate this, because it’s exactly what I needed to hear. Debbie Seiling

    1. I’ve had that conversation a lot the last couple of weeks… timing is such a curious thing! :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Does Your Business Blog Feel Like Wasted Time?My Profile

  16. It is so brave of you to share this Michelle. Just always remember that you are not alone in this world and a lot of people love you.

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