Balance & Beyond Podcast
#29: Our 3 Biggest Lessons from 2023 - Part 1
It's been a big year, on so many levels.
To finish off the last two episodes of 2023, we’re dropping our biggest lessons learned across two episodes.
Trust your gut, it’s that simple. This year has taught us that going with your intuition, though scary at times, can lead to some life-changing decisions. From deciding on a family trip to Norway instead of Thailand to navigating the beautiful chaos of motherhood, we’ve learned the incredible power of listening to that inner voice. Our journeys might be different, but the lessons we've gathered are profound and transformative.
The heart of our journey is not just about personal growth, but also about fostering a strong community and embracing our rainbow of emotions. We discuss how investing in your surrounding community can become a source of strength, a reservoir for self-care. The danger of toxic positivity, a trend that encourages us to suppress our authentic emotions, is something we tackle head-on. You’ll hear our stories, experiences, and insights on creating balance in our lives and avoiding burnout.
We’ve traversed through these paths and are excited to share these nuggets of wisdom with you. Come, join us in this enriching conversation.
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INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…
Welcome to the last two episodes of the Balance and Beyond podcast, and this is going to be a two-parter. So today and next week, Jaclynand I are going to be sharing with you each our top takeaways for the year. It's been a big year for both of us on many levels, and this becomes a beautiful opportunity for us to really share what is some of that wisdom that we have gained. Jaclyn, it's going to be fun.
We've learned a lot this past year, and we can't wait to share those golden nuggets with you! Absolutely.
So, we're going to do three each, and in this first episode, I'm going to share with you mine and we’ll tackle them together, because, given Jaclyn and I are in close proximity to each other, there's going to be many key points. I know that I have learned all her lessons as well, and I'm sure she has learned all of mine. So, that becomes a beautiful chance for us to share and stack on each other's learnings. So, my biggest lesson for the year, and this has probably come across in some earlier podcast episodes, is that I have learned to trust my intuition. It's a big one, isn't it, Jaclyn? The word, “Intuition.”
Yes, there's a big definition to that one, I suppose. But learning to trust your intuition changes everything.
It does, it does and that's what it has for me. So, everyone has different definitions of intuition. But, from where I stand, I consider intuition to be that inner voice, that inner wisdom, that deep knowing, that gut instinct, where there's a voice inside of me. And, in my case, mine comes almost through a feeling that says, “You need to do this”, or “You need to look this way.” And it's been something that I had a lot as a kid.
But, for a number of years, I lost access to that intuition, because I spent a lot of time in my head. I felt like I had to rationalise everything. Everything had to make sense. And as I've gone on this personal development and spiritual journey a lot, over the last couple of years, I've realised that many things in life don't make sense. But, that doesn't mean they're not right. And so, a few of the examples that had really big consequences, where I knew that I just had to trust my intuition, was this time last year.
So, towards the end of 2022, my family was planning a holiday to Thailand. We’d been talking about it for years. It was our first big holiday after COVID. We were very excited to take the kids to Asia. And then, that little voice in my head, that little feeling in my body said, “I think you need to take everybody back to Norway.” We go to a specialist health clinic in Norway, which seems quite extreme, but we've got a range of health challenges, and we have certainly found that where conventional medicine ends, sometimes you need a different alternative. And this clinic has been life changing.
And even though my husband and one daughter had been, there was something in me that said we all have to go. And it didn't make any sense at all. I remember telling Jacqueline it's like, “When I was in the process of selling my house, I didn't know if I was going to sell it.” I hadn't bought another house, we'd paid for Thailand. Literally, this happened two days after we paid everything for Thailand. And my husband's gone, “What do you mean, we need to go to Norway?” With this despondent look of “What do you mean?” And I said, “I feel like we need to go.”
And my husband knows me well enough. Now, he said to me, “Is this one of those feelings?” “Or is this one of those feelings that you've got?” And I said, “What do you mean by that?” He said, “You sometimes get a certain feeling, and you're not going to rest until it comes to life.” And I said, “It's one of those.” He's like, “Oh, I guess I'll call the agent in the morning”, because he just knows.
But, this is something that really challenged me, because it didn't make any sense. The timing was terrible. When I told my parents, they were like, “Are you sure?” For about a month they kept saying to me, “This really doesn't make any sense.” “This isn't a very responsible thing to do.” “Are you sure you're not biting off more than you can chew?” But there was something in me that said, “I have to get my family to this clinic”, and it was life changing.
So many things have shifted since then, for the better. And if I'd have ignored that voice, which is what I used to do, there always would have been something nagging in me. There would have been a “What if?” And it didn't make sense, and it cost us money, and the timing was inconvenient. But that was one of the big, beautiful examples of where I have trusted that gut to say, “You know what?” “This feeling is here for a reason.”
And so there's many, many more examples I can give you, but that process of learning to trust it, and then finding evidence of what happens. The good things happen when I trust it. This is something I know. Jacqueline, you've had experiences in this realm as well. You know, learning to trust your intuition and learning to trust your body, in all facets of life. How have you also learned this lesson over the last year?
Oh gosh, I think for me in the past year, the biggest thing has been around motherhood, actually. And which, ironically, my work is really in helping others to connect with their bodies, and trust their bodies, and I was just confronted with a whole other level of my ability to do that, through motherhood. So, before I became a mother, I think I could listen, tune into my body, and trust it really well.
But, I was surprised to find that with my son. I wasn't trusting it as well with him. I wasn’t trusting my own body and what felt right to do with him, or trusting his body and what he needed, as a baby. For me, there was so much contradictory information out there, and I was so scared to make a mistake with him, that I was just so stuck in my head.
So, I finally wrestled with that. I would say, for the majority of the first year of his life, to be really honest. And then, of course, I would judge myself for struggling with it. Because I'm like, “What kind of an expert am I, if I'm struggling so hard with this?” But, the fact that we tend to work in the place that we wrestle with ourselves, is what I've learned. So, it's the place in which we’re learning to master things, right? And that's what makes us so good at teaching others how to do it, too. So, I guess I was due for another levelling up of my capacity to trust my intuition, and trust my body.
So, I was handed that, along with this new motherhood journey. So eventually, I just decided that the thing I wanted most was to enjoy being a mother more than I wanted to quote unquote “Get it right.” And that's the shift I needed to start trusting my body, and my son’s body more. Because, yeah, I just decided that it was more important for you to enjoy it, and I wasn't enjoying motherhood as much as I wanted to, because I was trying to get it right, and it was stressing me out, and stressed out my poor husband too. And probably my baby, for that matter.
So, yeah, I guess what I would say is that, at the end of the day, if you're struggling to trust your intuition because you're stuck in your head trying to get things right, a powerful question you can ask yourself is, “Am I more interested in getting this right?” “Or am I more interested in actually enjoying this?” Whatever the circumstance may be, whether it's motherhood, or your job, or whatever relationship you might be looking at. Yeah, that was the game changer for me.
Absolutely. And what I have found really interesting over this journey is that many of us have that intuition there, and often it's the first thing that comes to mind. But then we squash it with logic and reasoning, and it doesn't make sense! But, if I look back on my life, all the times that I have followed that voice, and that voice usually has all that feeling. That “knowing” has usually been around big decisions, like decisions to sell houses, or decisions to relocate. Even the decision to hire you was like, “Oh, Jaclyn was just dropped in my lap.” “Can I trust this?” “Because, I should really be putting out an ad, and there's all these things that I should be doing.” And when it lands easily, it can be very easy to question that. And it's again leaning into that intuitive hit that actually, “No, you're good, just keep going, one foot in front of the other.”
But what, for me, over the last year, has become so profound and beautiful is that, as you trust your intuition on so many levels, the rewards are so much greater. The speed with which you can make decisions, and then the “knowing” you have in those decisions. You don't second guess them. You don't go back on them. And even if it didn't end up being the right decision, when you've got this deep knowing that it was the right one, well then, you now get to make a different decision, rather than being paralysed.
And that was one thing early on in my career that was really hard for me. It was actually making a decision about, “Is this finished?” And I'd be like, “Oh, kind of, but it's not perfect, and I probably should make it a bit better.” And so, I would just swim around in my head, instead of having access to that gut feeling that says “Done, go.” “This decision, move.” And especially, as a business owner, or anybody you know, we have thousands of decisions we have to make in a day.
When you get that link back, life becomes so much more enjoyable. And so, that's been one of my big learnings, and one that I will continue to foster, because it's only brought me good things in life, in business, in friendships, everything. So, that's mine, Jaclyn, what would you say? I know you shared yours about motherhood, but what has been one of your big learnings for the last year?
One of my big learnings is in the power of community and having that solidarity, accountability, and going on that personal growth journey. I mean, I suppose I've been learning that for more than just the past year. But it was especially amplified, I think, also in witnessing the participants in the blissful foundations course. So, it just reinforces the underestimated need to walk with others, when you're in a big journey of transformation, or change.
I think, as ambitious women, we try to do a lot by ourselves, and we actually succeed quite well at doing a lot by ourselves. And so, why not do the personal development thing alone, too? Because I know that I can count on myself and can I trust other people? Do I even need other people?
You know, there's all these really compelling arguments that our brain likes to have. But, at the end of the day, that solidarity, the community, the people walking with you, it’s really an act of kindness towards others. And I think that might be the most surprising thing. The obvious thing is you know, of course, when I'm with other people there's accountability, and there's momentum, and that's kind of more obvious, and it's really helpful.
But, I think the act of gifting yourself that journey with other people, and not having to do something alone when life is a lot. And already, I think that's such an act of self-kindness. And I've seen program participants make these shifts. It's one of my favourite shifts, I think. When they become just a bit more kinder towards themselves. So, yeah, I'm offering this out there to those listening, to consider having community, having solidarity, beyond the obvious accountability and momentum of that, is the kindness that you deserve. To not be alone, yeah.
We see that so much, don't we? Where so many of the women who come into our world, and I know you, and I even personally have found that getting other women who get you is really hard. Where there is no judgement, where you are available to be yourself, so many of us are longing for that feminine connection, or that sisterhood. There's a deep longing inside us, but we just shove it down and say, “No, I don't need it.” “I'll be fine!” “They're just gonna judge me anyway.” We see that often, don't we? Even through our retreats, and all the work we do, creates this real longing for community, for a community of women.
Yep, absolutely. Yet I think most people don't even know that they are longing for that, which is why it's kind of a surprising thing, right? It’s something that you discover along the way. But, I like to think it’s like an essential vitamin, or nutrient. We've become divorced, or separated somehow, along the way through society, and the competition we have amongst other women. This kind of hustle, hard achievement based society that, you know, has this kind of a “lone wolf” thinking mode. Yeah, there’s this “modus-operandi” around it. So yeah, it's almost radical, to begin investing in a community that is like-minded. So, I think that’s really special.
It's radical, but it's what the real trailblazers do, isn't it? If you can't find it yourself, you invest to get it. And that's what you and I, on both our personal development journeys, have been. Well, I can't find them, so I'm gonna pay to be part of a container that gets me them. And then, I'm guaranteed that they're going to be there, and they all want to be there, and there's no, “I'm too busy”, or “I'm too ‘this.’” That's how we get access to people that fuel our growth.
Well, that's your first one. Why don't I share one of my other “Learnings?” And it's no surprise that, as somebody who has started a business, the business mirrors me. So, whatever I'm experiencing, we see very quickly and obviously, Jaclyn’s one of us. I have learned, in time, that there is a three to six months time frame of, “Things that I am going through personally”, that start to come up in the community. Which is why, as leaders, we go first.
This is our job. And there's a term I heard recently, which I thought was so brilliant. And it's one that we are seeing come up time and time again, in our community. It's one I can be guilty of. And it's this term “toxic positivity.” And this generally means that we almost beat ourselves up, because we have to be positive. It's like, “No, everything's fine.” “I should be fine!” “Everything's great, I have no reason to complain!”
And we use this positivity, and the good things that we do have in our lives, because most people who are in our world, you know, things have changed of late, cost of living pressures have risen, but they are not eating baked beans. They are relatively financially secure, they have good jobs, they are very employable, they have good relationships, they tend to have good health. And so, it's very easy to fall into the trap of, “Well, there's nothing wrong with me.” “I should be grateful, I should be fine!” And this becomes like something we can shove down our throats and it stops us giving permission to ourselves to actually deal with what is there.
So, to deal with any frustration that we may have, what do I have to be frustrated about? Because, you know, there's other people who've gone through so much worse things than I have. Or people who have often called this a, “healthy family trauma.” It's almost like, “Well, I didn't have any trauma as a child.” And so, therefore, I almost feel traumatised because I have nothing. “What's wrong with me?” “Why do I have all these things going on when I had a happy childhood?” “So I'm fine?” “I'm fine.”
And we try to convince ourselves that that is the case, when it dishonours our human experience of frustration, and shame, and guilt, and the full spectrum of human emotions, which we all carry. So, I found this a really fascinating one. And just, I know you see it too in all the coaching calls, where it can be very easy for someone to slap a, “Well, I should be grateful!” “I have nothing to complain about.” And, it can be really damaging if we're not careful.
Mm-hmm. Yeah and, you know, gosh, it's empowering to be grateful. And to, you know, intentionally cultivate what is working, and amplify that. And you know, the reality is that we also have other experiences of life, where we're challenged, where we might be grieving something, the loss of someone or loss of something or we might be angry about something, or frustrated because we weren't heard or honoured in a certain way, that we should have should have been heard or honoured in.
So these are all really valid parts of the human experience. And, if we try to gloss over the frustration, and look on the bright side. Or the same thing with feelings of grief. You know, trying to look on the bright side. Or, you know, always looking for the silver lining, without giving the grief or the anger there room to process. What ends up happening is that it remains in the nervous system as an unprocessed emotion, which causes disease in the future, right? A lack of ease, or disease, you could call it, right?
So, yeah, it's also called “bypassing” in the spiritual circles, when you end up just focusing on the positive, and the higher frequency emotions, versus the negative, or the low vibe. Moments of, you know, grief or anger. However, personally, I'm not party to that perspective. Because, I have immense respect for the human experience, and I hold the whole human experience as sacred. So for me, personally, I think, another way of thinking of anger, is like it's a feeling of passion. It's life force. It's your “Yes.” It's your “No.” That's your voice!
So, bypassing your anger to look on the bright side, is bypassing your life force, and bypassing your “Yes”, or bypassing your “No.” You’re actually bypassing what's true for you, or a place where there might be a boundary for you. So, that's important to regard. And it’s the same with grief, right? It's appropriate to actually hold space for those kinds of deeper emotions, even if they're uncomfortable, or they don't leave us feeling happy, per se.
In terms of grief, I have found a lot of times in grief, there's a lot of gratitude to be had on the other side of grief. When we let ourselves go there and have that deep mourning in our hearts, for whatever that is. So, I guess I have a lot to say about this, Jo. But, I would say, I am all for positivity and empowering beliefs, and focusing on gratitude, and what's working, and I'm all for having the full range of the human experience, and that there's power inside of your grief, and there's power inside of your anger. Yeah, and that's positive too, isn't it? So, that's how I see it.
It is. It is, but I guess, you know, everybody's upbringing has been different. And certainly in my house, there was not a huge amount of emotion ever really shown. My dad's English, and my mom's Australian. But, you know, it wasn't a warm and fuzzy household. It wasn't necessarily an angry household, it wasn't a sad household, it was just a neutral household, if you will. There was maybe the odd bit of excitement over a cricket match, or a soccer match, or something like that, where you know, I got a bit animated.
But my parents never raised their voices. And so, in some ways, I know many people who come into our world have similar upbringings, and that that's partly generational, too, where the full gamut of human expression was not actively encouraged. And so, we latch onto this, “Everything's rosy!” “Everything's fine!” My Great Auntie Barbara used to say “Mustn't grumble.” It's a very English thing, “Mustn't grumble, mustn't grumble.”
So, if anything happens, it’s always, “Mustn't grumble.” “Don't talk about it.” “just sweep it under the rug and it will all be fine!” “Let's focus over here!” “Look at these rainbows, look at his positivity!” “This is wonderful!” And that becomes ingrained into our nervous system. And I know a lot of my journey has been learning to feel some of those more disempowering, or you might call them, negative emotions. Like, the shame, or the guilt, or the frustration, and learning to process them without fear, that the dam wall is going to burst, and you are never going to get it back up.
So, we see this all the time, where there's this great fear of, “If I actually let these emotions out, if I actually grieve that … “ You know, “The child I didn't have”, or “That job that I lost”, or “That redundancy.” And certainly, I know my journey has been, I've often grieved things. And not just the things that I've lost. I've also had to grieve the things that might have been.
So, its future projected grief on something that never materialised. A relationship that could have been this way, or a job that could have been this way, or a team that could have happened. And then, you make a different decision, and there's grief there, because you thought this was going to happen, and it's now not. And actually sitting with that, and processing that, has been an absolute game changer.
So you mentioned, Jaclyn, they're letting it out through the body? My stress levels, even despite, you know, a busy life since I've learned to do this, have become so much lower ,because I'm not holding on to all this stuff and building it up, and we call this one of your favourite words. What happens, Jaclyn, when we build up all this disease in our body?
Oh, we become emotionally constipated. So, that's no fun for anyone, right? No one wants to be constipated with anything, including emotions. So, yeah, it's important to do a regular cleansing, and that could look like journaling. It doesn't have to necessarily be a big, outwardly emotional experience. It could be just vomiting it all out on paper. It could be more overtly external, like you know, pounding out a pillow, and screaming into a pillow, or going in the shower, and having a good sob.
So it might feel like it brings you to your knees for a minute, sometimes. But, in my experience, even when I'm brought to my knees, I find more power there. So, it feels like this thing that's going to decimate you and take you out, forever and ever. But I don't know, not in my experience. Usually it's just like “Phew, that was intense, and now I feel more peaceful and powerful, because I feel free from that.” Like now I’m fresh, so to speak, and it almost feels like there's a clean slate now, going forward, in that circumstance, where I was grieving or angry, about whatever it is. I can see more possibilities, I feel more optimistic. So, for a temporary rendering to my knees, the benefits, I feel, outweigh the initial negatives.
It's ironic that feeling the so-called “negative emotions” can actually help you be more positive. As you said, right? You get cleaned out, and then you get to now actually be really positive, as opposed to positive through your teeth, and just shoving everything that's threatening to burst out of your cupboard. Stay there, put it on the lock, and now you know that everything's great!
Yep. So all the calmness, or the joy that people are seeking, and wondering why they can't access it, the calmness and the joy you're seeking is on the other side of just letting yourself have the emotions you have. It’s in letting them move through you. The last caveat I’ll leave you with, is feel these emotions regularly without getting stuck in any stories, right? The easy thing is to dive into the emotion, and then get stuck weaving this whole, you know, sob story, or angry tirade.
That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about vomiting it all out. Or, you know, having the cry or having the temper tantrum, to get it out. Not to belabour this story, and weave this narrative about how you were so wronged, or how much sadness you have. It's letting it be there, and moving it through, without clinging to it as, like this whole new identity you get to take on, and like, wear it around, like a badge, which some people do. That causes more suffering. So, being mindful of this exercise that we're talking about, it has the intention of clearing out. Not extending the narrative.
We don't need to swim anymore in that suffering, do we? We do it enough to ourselves anyway. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, there you have it, guys! There are three of our top six lessons for this year. So, two of mine have been learning to trust my intuition, and avoiding toxic positivity. And for Jacqueline, it's been really around this power of community and solidarity. And when we are walking this path of personal development, of growth, if you are alone, it can be a very, very lonely path. So make sure you come back next week, next episode, where we'll be sharing our remaining three, and what we have learned in 2023. See you then!
OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at www.balanceinstitute.com to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.
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