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Getting Out of Your Own Way

The Phrase, “getting out of your own way,” resonates deeply with a lot of people. As in “maybe I’m getting in my own way too much.”

But what exactly does it mean to “get in your own way?”

In my case, this was never a question I could solve with a spreadsheet. It was a spiritual, existential question that had to be approached through my heart.

Getting in my own way recently took the form as a deep frustration with a project. I love the client. I love what I’m doing for them. But, as I complained to a friend, “they treat me like the cleaning lady. I don’t feel like I’m part of the team. And there’s so much I could help them with!”

This is not an unusual issue for me. I’ve worked on a lot of projects in which I see bigger ways I can help the client but the client isn’t ready, isn’t interested, etc.

When I explained my frustration to a friend, she gently pressed me on something, “why is it so important that you make a difference for them?” 

Excellent question. 

I turned this question over to my wise, loving ancestors. Two grandmothers whose gifts are healing and holding grief respond.

As healers, we sometimes encounter someone we know we could help. But we don’t push them to get our help.

Sometimes someone comes to us for help but won’t do what we tell them to do. We allow them to have their choice. They deserve their sovereignty over their life journey. Very often there is a good reason for them to choose the path they choose.

Sometimes a person we work with doesn’t get well. Sometimes people die. Then part of our work is to create a safe space for grieving.

This is enough. This is what it means to embody your gifts and blessings. Being a healing means you are a healing whether you are acknowledged by the people you heal or not.

I’m still baffled. So often, doing something valuable without people acknowledging the value leaves me feeling incomplete. Without acknowledgment I continue to question my value.

“What’s going on?” I ask the ancestors. “Why isn’t embodying my gifts in the world enough for me?”

And I see myself as a toddler. I’m crying. Maybe I’m hungry or tired or just want a hug. My mom is in the kitchen on the phone talking to a friend. She hears me but thinks I’ll be OK while she finishes her call.

I realize that I’ve spent much of my life; indeed my entire career has been dedicated to crafting the perfect message so no one ignores me. This washes over into what I do for clients: crafting the perfect communication so they’re seen and heard by their customers.

This is what the ancestors help me see. And the ancestors have more to share:

Obsessing over being seen and received is a distraction your adult self uses to blunt the sadness of that toddler who needed attention from her mom. Finding the perfect client or the perfect project is not what you need. It will not help you get out of your way.

Most people are struggling with the same issues that you struggle with. They don’t have the capacity to give you that attention and acknowledgement you think you need.

So what will?

Being in the world with the not-people. With animals and birds. With trees and flowers and plants. Being with not-people is your best medicine right now. No distractions. No busy work.


My ego. My busy over-achieving self hates this. No deliverables! No spreadsheets.

But my heart hears the truth in what the ancestors are sharing. My heart says “yes,” because my heart is wise. My heart knows no amount of work no matter how meaningful will heal that part of me that needs to be fully received.

But nature; the not-humans and not-human places can fully receive me. And then some. 

That is what it means to get out of your own way for me. That is the medicine I need.

2 thoughts on “Getting Out of Your Own Way

  1. That’s why I like sailing so much! It’s my chance to visit osprey, eagles and herons. My chance to see the sun playing off the water and on the trees and clouds. To see how the wetlands respond the the seasons. I partner with the wind, tide and flow of the river. It’s simultaneously all about me, as I am alone, but not about me at all.

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