It’s a feeling that creeps on you all so quietly; am I enough? Do I need to change in some way to be seen as valuable by others?
From feeling like you don’t measure up physically, to feeling like you have failed because you haven’t achieved some arbitrary life goal by whatever age you may be, societal expectations can blindside you and quite frankly, do little more than undermine your self-worth. So how can you overcome the feeling that you aren’t meeting some arbitrary standard?
I talked to Michaela Lloyd of The True You Rising, a kick-ass, down-to-earth, inspirational tree-hugger, Authentic Confidence & Self-Empowerment Coach and expert on all things Harry Potter, to find out what she has to say on the subject of expectations.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I am a human being that is slowly finding peace with who I am and what I’m here to do.
After reforming my over-thinking, self-conscious ways I now coach women to feel confident and comfortable in who they uniquely are. I believe that human nature is inherently kind and loving, and when we learn to be kind and loving towards ourselves we will always do right by others.
I have found great peace through understanding, embracing and expressing myself as I authentically am, not how I thought I should be. I see myself as kind, albeit slightly sarcastic, open-minded and a bit of a geek that can sometimes be wise.
I care about others more than I can say or show. I’m radically honest about how I feel. I often break the ice by saying inappropriate things. I occasionally hug trees! I believe that I’m always where I’m meant to be and I am in complete wonder of life.
You coach women to become the best versions of themselves. Why did you start on the journey towards becoming a coach?
I have had a natural fascination and affinity for working with people for as long as I can remember.
Coaching is a natural extension of who I am as a person; it's not just a job title. Ironically, however, I never intended to become a coach. I stumbled into the world of personal development thinking it would give me the willpower to get the thigh gap I'd always wanted, or the drive to secure the job I thought I needed to be successful.
I hadn’t even realized how self-conscious and self-critical I was; I thought I was just taking the necessary steps to become what I thought was good enough. I came to understand it wasn’t my body or my profession that needed to change. Instead, it was my relationship with myself and the thoughts I filled my head with.
After undergoing a massive inner transformation my whole outlook on life completely changed! Yet, I saw so many amazing people around me that were waiting to feel good enough: when they lost 10 pounds, when that cute guy liked them, or when they got that promotion.
I knew from experience that that kind of happiness never lasted! If you can’t love yourself now, there’s nothing to say you’ll be able to love yourself in the future.
Eventually I realized that I needed to stop just giving (sometimes unsolicited!) advice and actually get to work in serving others. I started life coaching, but I soon realized that my strength and passion was in helping women feel confident and love themselves fully, as this had been my journey.
What gets you up in the morning?
I have a thirst to really understand myself and life more deeply which makes me excited to approach each day.
I am in absolutely wonder of being alive!
In my mind, life is an amazing training ground that gives me endless opportunity to develop more compassion, understanding and sense of peace.
Before I became aware that life is my greatest teacher, it was so easy to be thrown off balance by my circumstances. Now, I try to take life graciously and gratefully, with mixed effects depending on how much coffee I’ve had.
It pains me when I see people that are overwhelmed by their journey, especially when they’ve turned against themselves, so each day I make an effort to spread more love and light-heartedness into the world.
Regardless of the effect or reach it has, the most important thing for me is that I try to be a part of the change I want to see – I sleep much more soundly!
What was the biggest breakthrough you have had personally on the road to becoming a coach?
The biggest breakthrough has been realizing that there is, in fact, a place for me to express myself authentically in business.
I preach authenticity to my clients, but it was massively empowering to realize that my business flourishes best when I am being real, raw and human.
It’s easy to feel that you have to be polished and professional in business, but anyone that knows me knows that that’s not what I’m about: I’m a geek, I drop f-bombs, I believe in the power of energy, I give out sass, I ooze warm fuzzies and I’m a crystal loving hippie that references Harry Potter every chance she gets.
It turns out I can reach people better when I don’t pretend I’m not. Some people could be offended by my style, but they’re not my people and I am so cool with that.
When I started showing up as I was and forgetting how a coach should be, I became so much closer with the people I’m here to serve.
What is the biggest difficulty you have had to overcome and how has it shaped you as a person?
Definitely my chronic over-thinking.
I used to call myself a deep thinker and thought it was like my super power, but really I was just over-analyzing everything and trying to find wisdom by re-hashing tired information.
Worst of all the thoughts were usually self-defeating; I was telling myself I was fat, unattractive, average and other such nasties that made me feel crap about myself.
My loved ones just thought I was into the gym, liked to eat healthy and was maybe a bit sensitive, because I never talked about the struggle that was going on in my head.
I spent so much time staring at my own reflection, willing it to become better or different, not realizing that it was my mind that needed to change, not my appearance.
This was completely self-imposed of course, but I think it warrants a certain level of appreciation because, sadly, it’s a struggle so many women go through.
What’s your opinion of the invisible standard we all appear to be striving for? Where does that come from and is it real?
Humans naturally seek to evolve and ideal ways of being could be seen like carrots that are dangled in front of us to motivate us to become better versions of ourselves.
The problem, of course, is that ideals have a tendency of making us feel inept or unworthy as we are and they glamorize a very limited way of being.
It is always important to ask ourselves: who is this ideal serving? There is no denying the fact that my insecurities fed directly into the pockets of people who told me their products and services were the key to my happiness. It was genius, however, because I thought it was all my own choice and that by trying to be more like the pictures I saw in magazines I was being empowered!
I used to think that The Man or society was to blame, but no ideal actually has any power over our actions unless we internalize them and buy into the idea that that’s how we should be.
I know it’s ridiculously hard to ignore when we’re constantly bombarded with images and messages of what being a success looks like, but we always have the power to decide how we want to live our lives.
It seems like the ultimate act of rebellion these days is to love yourself as you are and accept that you don’t need more stuff to be good enough.
What are your goals for the future?
I absolutely love coaching individuals one-on- one, but writing has always been my great love. I have always adored books because they can serve, teach and inspire people long after we pass from this world.
Mind Power Into the 21 st Century by John Kehoe was the first book to irrevocably change my life for the better, after Harry Potter of course! Unfortunately, the author hasn’t even a clue I even exist; that’s the amazing thing about the written word.
In my life I will write fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, all in the name of helping individuals love and understand themselves more deeply.
I have already started planning my first children’s book because it is so important to me that people understand early on that they are worthy, important and loved.
My future soul mate and I will have a beautiful cottage that’s surrounded by native bush, where I can get lost in the wisdom of nature and write to my wee heart’s content.
What single piece of advice would you give a woman, or anyone, who is struggling with society’s expectations?
This is said with absolute love, but if you’re feeling the pressure to be a certain way it’s because you’re pressuring yourself to be that way, not anyone out there.
I know it’s easy to feel like you should be a certain way, but no media source or person can physically climb into your mind and say: “you’re not good enough as you are”.
If you don’t feel good enough it’s because you’re telling yourself you’re not good enough. Society’s expectations will become irrelevant to your daily life if you choose to love and accept yourself as you are.
Yes, it seems hard.
Yes, you may be challenged.
But if you stop judging yourself for who you’re not and embrace who you actually are, you will see the true beauty that exists within you and life will become an amazing adventure.
I’m not asking you to just settle for who you are because you will always evolve, that’s what humans do. But know that you don’t need to change to become good enough. You are, and have always been, worthy of this life you were given.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When you are hurting or feeling down you deserve to give more love to yourself, not less. If we’re not living up to our own expectations it’s very human to try to punish ourselves into better behavior, but that negative motivation will not get you into higher states of happiness.
We should never deprive ourselves of our own love just because we don’t feel worthy of it. If you’re feeling down, ask yourself, “What would someone who truly loved themselves do in this situation?”
Maybe it’s a long hot bath or a wine with a friend or dancing like a maniac in your room. Just do whatever feels most loving to you. Let love guide you back to that feeling of wholeness, not shame or guilt.
So what do you think?
When you are feeling down about not measuring up, why not change the way you think? You never know what opportunities open up for you when you present in them as you truly are!
Have a question for Michaela? Leave it in the comments below!