One of the reasons why being a woman entrepreneur can be so challenging somedays is that when we believe in ourselves and take leaps outside of our comfort zones (as entrepreneurship constantly requires us to do) we can end up touching the worth-wounds of the people we love most.
When this happens, our loved ones launch bouts of doubt at us in an effort to get us to change back to the way we were previously, the way that didn’t challenge them and their worth-wounds. We need to be ready for these bouts of doubt when they inevitably spring up and prepared to lead our relationships forward.
What are worth-wounds? They’re the places in our hearts and minds that hold on to memories of being rejected and unwanted for our attempts to offer our deepest gifts. We hold on to our worth-wounds because at some point we took these incidences of rejection as “the truth about who I am – not good enough and not wanted!”
In other words, we formed our identities partly in response to these wounds, these negative memories. Now we unconsciously believe that if we forgive these memories and truly let them go, we’ll forget to protect ourselves, we’ll become very vulnerable and we’ll be hurt again by the same huge pain of rejection that we experienced as children.
We usually cover up our worth-wounds with compensatory behaviors, protective rationalizations and false personas. We do this covering-up instead of squarely cleaning out the wounds with truth and letting them heal in the open air because the cleaning process hurts. We’d rather just wear the band-aids, thanks. We’d rather not be vulnerable to the pain again. Unknowingly, we make all kinds of tacit agreements with ourselves and with the people we love that we won’t touch their worth wounds and they won’t touch ours.
The trouble is, these are impossible agreements to keep. Life constantly demands that we grow past the rationalizations that keep us playing small and grow in intimacy with one another. So even if we did succeed in keeping the agreement never to touch our loved ones’ worth-wounds, we would actually be doing them and ourselves a disservice: we would be failing to heal, failing to grow into our largest potentials, and failing to expand our intimate connections.
This week one of my clients, Lila, chose to double the rates for the professional make-up service that she offers and in doing so she touched her fiance’s worth-wounds. In an upset tone her fiance expressed doubt about the wisdom of her choice. Because Lila and I had previously talked about how taking leaps forward in life and business can trigger bouts of doubt from the people we love most, she recognized what was really happening and remained calm.
“I could tell that his doubt had less to do with the value of my services than it did with his own worries about being compensated fairly for the amazing work he does as an actor and a playwright,” Lila reported to me.
“I gently told him that I heard him speaking to me with a tone of negative judgment and I asked him if he thought that was happening. He said he could recognize that it was. Then I asked him to try to fully understand the spiritual and emotional place that my decision had come from instead of judging.
“He said he would try, so I told him what had been going on with me when I made the decision to raise my rates. That was when he apologized. He told me he knew that my work was incredibly valuable, he just felt that my decision to raise my rates was challenging him to command more respect for his own work and he felt afraid that he wouldn’t be able to succeed at that. I told him how much I believed in him and we ended the conversation feeling closer than before – even though the first few moments of it were hair-raising for me!”
Lila met the challenge of her fiance’s fear by following the four steps I recommend for dealing with bouts of doubt:
1) Don’t react with defensiveness. Instead just calmly state what you perceive to be happening and ask for clarification. (For example: “I hear anxiety in the way you’re addressing me right now – is that your experience, too?”)
2) Listen to your loved one with a soft heart. From that soft-heart place, ask for what you really need. (For example: “I hear your concerns – and I would also love if you would hear me out right now. Would you be willing to do that?”)
3) With your loved one’s consent, speak your truth. Share with them from the same fearlessness that helped you to take your leap. Be open to hearing deep truth from them, too.
4) Finally, express how much you value your loved one and how important unity and harmony with them are to you. Often times when our worth-wounds are triggered, we fear we’re going to be abandoned. Let them know that’s not the case. Growth and abandonment aren’t synonymous.
Have you had an experiencing of touching someone’s worth-wounds or having your own touched lately? How did you deal with it? How might you deal differently with it in the future?
About Dr. Carolyn Elliott
Dr. Carolyn Elliott is an intuitive counselor for people who value love as their highest priority and the author of a book on creativity that’s forthcoming next fall from North Atlantic Books. You can find out more about her services, sign-up for free healing resources, and read her blog at www.awesomeyourlife.com.