The Identity Factor Podcast

You Don't Have To Be Strong With Wendy Sloneker

July 02, 2023 Robin Keesler
You Don't Have To Be Strong With Wendy Sloneker
The Identity Factor Podcast
More Info
The Identity Factor Podcast
You Don't Have To Be Strong With Wendy Sloneker
Jul 02, 2023
Robin Keesler

Being a leader does not always mean being strong. Mental fitness does not always mean being balanced, happy and well regulated. Sometimes what it means to have strong mental health means to know when to allow yourself to be weak, worn out and utterly undone.

In this episode, Grief Coach Wendy Sloneker brings a powerfully honest, supportive and permission centered approach to what taking care of yourself as a leader and as a human can look like.

Join us in this episode to feel the warmth of what love and support can feel like as you navigate whatever part of the journey you are on - and remember - "Every small step counts." - Wendy Sloneker.

If you love this episode, share it on your favorite social media platform so your friends can hear it too.

Register for the grand finale, live event happening May 19th-21st at where you are going to get an entire weekend of value packed, heart felt love and support from this amazing team of leaders that are walking this path right along side you. 

See you there! 

Show Notes Transcript

Being a leader does not always mean being strong. Mental fitness does not always mean being balanced, happy and well regulated. Sometimes what it means to have strong mental health means to know when to allow yourself to be weak, worn out and utterly undone.

In this episode, Grief Coach Wendy Sloneker brings a powerfully honest, supportive and permission centered approach to what taking care of yourself as a leader and as a human can look like.

Join us in this episode to feel the warmth of what love and support can feel like as you navigate whatever part of the journey you are on - and remember - "Every small step counts." - Wendy Sloneker.

If you love this episode, share it on your favorite social media platform so your friends can hear it too.

Register for the grand finale, live event happening May 19th-21st at where you are going to get an entire weekend of value packed, heart felt love and support from this amazing team of leaders that are walking this path right along side you. 

See you there! 

 Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Identity Factor Podcast. My name is Robin Keesler and I will be your host. Let's go. Today we are continuing on with our Mental Health Awareness Month project, the Shadow Side Leadership Series, and we are talking with some of the most heart-centered and mission-driven leaders that I know of, specifically inside the coaching industry.

And we're here to talk about not only leadership and business, And success. But I also wanna talk about identity and mental health, mental and emotional health, and how all of that kind of comes together as an integrative and holistic approach to living a life that is really meaningful and joyful and also effective.

So in that intention, I invite you to welcome Wendy Sloneker and Wendy, go ahead and if there's anything that you wanna say to introduce yourself a little bit further, feel free, and then we're gonna jump into this conversation. I'm so thrilled. Hi everybody. Hi Robin. I've been looking forward to this conversation a lot.

And so just a little bit about me. I, I work in the grief area, which may sound like a disconnect given my energy and, um, perky sort of voice and energy. Just, this is what's on the other side of working in loss, so I feel like, oh my gosh, you're my people shadow side. Let's go. Amazing. Well, let's, let's do it then.

Let's talk about the shadow side. Mm-hmm. So, Wendy, what do you think it means, first of all, when we talk about the shadow side, define that for people, what that means to you. Uh, well I find that. Instead of a a def a definition. Really it's a sense of, so I'm going to use my body and my imagination together to describe with words what shadow side is or how I recognize it, and that is usually where I bump up against.

Resistance, which could feel like, um, sort of like when you tag your shoulder on a wall or a door. It could also be sort of like when you gently try to move through something that is not allowing, so it can feel, it can feel sometimes like, uh, the place that. That just feels like a, what? The image that's coming to me is a swimming pool with a cover on it, and the idea is to like go in and go swimming, but you can't because there's a cover that is preventing it.

So that can be sort of like the resistance you find as you go toward the shadow side. Shadow side can also include, um, topics that are, you know, Not usually super open to speaking about in public or don't look pretty or are not Instagramable, these sort of things. Yeah. The things that you don't want people to see about you, the things that you would rather not that, that identify with, right.

That are a part of you. Things that are real that I do not wanna present or let anybody else know about for any reason. Not pretty. No. Not pretty. Not pretty and real. And real and yet so real. And so when we talk about these parts of ourselves as we, as we get ready to, to explore this idea of mental and emotional health, how do you think that the shadow mm-hmm.

Parts of us, how do you think the shadow relates to this conversation around. Mental and emotional health and being mentally fit and alive because joy and love and, you know, all of that is a part of mental health as well. Right. Mental health is not about just mental illness. It's about ev it's this entire spectrum of what it means to be human, like you said.

Mm-hmm. So how do, how does the shadow mm-hmm part of our humanity fit into this concept of mental health and mental fitness? This is where we enter a conversation of balance. And this may be something that has already come up with other podcasts and, and other guests and stuff, but like, that doesn't mean it's not relevant or important.

This is about balance. And so I wanna offer that whatever is a derivative of the shadow side, like however, the shadow side for you. Listener comes about that is like real and valid and worthy of the honor of attention. Mm-hmm. And that can either be appreciation or um, just the dignity of acknowledgement.

Yeah, so the shadow side is how it's kind of a lever that we're not really accustomed to because one, we're not taught how to work with it or engage it or leverage it, and like it's uncomfortable. We're kind of bad at it. So we don't wanna do the things that we're not skilled at certain of. Like when it comes to the shadow side, when it comes to grief and loss specifically, and death is not required when it comes to grief and loss.

We don't know how we're gonna feel. We're just afraid of how we're gonna feel. So we are in essence, standing at a portal, a doorway, to a result that we want. But we're arguing about like the fact that we might have to go through a door. Mm. And so, yeah, this is painful and challenging, but I do wanna mention that how the shadow side works, including all the feelings that go with it, the deeper you can allow yourself to go and just explore and acknowledgement is sometimes all that's needed.

So the deeper you can go, the more capacity you have for things like joy. Things like happiness, like the deeper you go, the higher you can fly. I just wanna feel better is something that comes up often in terms of a, uh, goal. Mm-hmm. And I'm gonna share that like in my work and expertise that is not specific enough to just wanna feel better.

Mm-hmm. About what, what, what do you wanna let go of? What's heavy? What are you carrying around that we don't know we're carrying around? That could be. A 150 pound backpack Yeah. Of emotional weight. What could that be? Yeah. What are the things that you carry, Wendy? Yeah, that's a good one. Uh, thank you.

We're going right in. I think there's a lot of self doubt, um, honestly, and that comes from conditioned, um, conversation in my head around. Do I really think I can do that? Can I do that by myself? Am I the person to do that? Really? Me? No. Yep. Still here. Still a request. That's somewhere inside. I still have an intention or an imagination that is taking me to this idea.

This idea is not letting me go, but I have this doubt that is like, hmm, could be expensive, could take forever, might feel bad. Yeah. What do you think that that doubt is? Um, Trying to either protect you from, or how do you think that that is trying to serve you in your life? I think it's it, it's exactly that.

It's a protection and you know, honestly, when I think about what doubt is for me, how it shows up in my imagination, it is like a three year old at a grocery store, carousel horse, where you like, please put another quarter in and let me ride this thing. Please put another quarter in and let me ride this thing.

It's this. Young sense that would love some attention, but has a job that is way, way too big and not appropriate for a three-year-old who just wants to be on a mechanical car. Carousel horse. Hmm. Like she needs coloring as a job. Yeah. She does not need managing self-doubt in an existential way for a 53 year old.

Yeah. That's not her job. Yeah. So I think it's protection, but it's also protection from something vague and like vaguely dangerous or vaguely unknown or like you get the sense that vague is not that destination. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, okay. So if, if self-doubt feels like the, the challenge, you know? Mm-hmm.

Like, like mentally or emotionally that you notice yourself experiencing a lot. Mm-hmm. The next question I have as we explore this idea of the shadow side is what, what Wendy is, is the part of you that you would most like to hide or not let the world see? Ooh, so excellent. The part, I don't want, the part I want to hide and not see.

I think it's, it's just how soft I am. Hmm. Like so, so soft. Like this sort of, um, great, great-grandmother. Kind of soft. Yeah. Um, really tender, very sensitive, and, um, and you know, in terms of actual elders in our communities, like they want and need to be seen and remembered and talked to and touched and like in all the sweet, sweet ways mm-hmm.

That make up human connection and, you know, That's one thing that is, is also like a gift. Yeah. Yeah. What do you think that you are believing about that part of you that's make, that makes you want to hide it or not show it? Well, I think here's for me, I don't know it well enough. Like this is where I'm making a relationship with that part is my responsibility.

And when I'm, when I'm done considering it a pain in the ass, can I cuss here when I'm done considering a pain in the ass? Yeah. Like that's my opportunity to move forward in relationship in harmony with this part. Yeah. Because that's also how I feel Happier. I expand the capacity for my own experience.

Yeah, like a full life does not mean all happy. A full life means like lots of contrast. Full days make a full life. So like when I'm having feelings of like I'm having a hard time moving around today cuz I am energetically heavy and I'm not exactly sure what that's about. That still provides meaning and experience that is valid.

Yeah. Yeah, I agree a hundred percent. So valid. And so when we think about these, these, these shadow sides of our, of our humanity, right? Um mm-hmm. And so for some people that might be, um, you know, that might be how controlling they are or that might be, you know, how that they have, you know, that they're rigid or, you know, whatever.

There might be just parts of your personality or of yourself that you, or it might be how insecure you are mm-hmm. Or just different things. Mm-hmm. And I, I am curious to know, Wendy, when we look at that, that 50 50 of, of. Of our life and of what it means to be a leader. Right. Because I think there's so many people that have this idea that leadership means being really strong, not being soft.

Mm-hmm. Right, right. Being strong and, and decisive and, you know, these, these, this persona that we kind of wrap around it. Mm-hmm. And so I'm curious, do you believe that there's a benefit? And if so, what is the benefit of these? These parts of ourselves that are not pretty, how do they in fact serve us?

When, when I, here's where I'm gonna speak for myself, when I allow and bring in my own experience and validate my own. Parts that I, you know, I don't want my like super softy, great grandmothery type on, on, you know, like, I don't even know how that's embodied. But when I go there, I am telling myself the truth.

And so the benefit is I am working from a much cleaner, clearer, um, more direct slate. I know that's really me. Yeah. How does that make you a better leader for you? Oh, I have nothing to, to lose at that point. Like, oh, I, I don't have anything I'm trying to hide because I'm with that thing. Hmm. I'm with that part and that part is me.

And I've done a lot of work around like. Uh, Wendy, do you have the willingness to feel all the feelings that you were served, um, in this life? And for the most part, yes. But that is also a challenge that I took on for myself in terms of, okay, um, if the feeling is here, it is mine and it is for me, not against me.

There's not a bad thought. There's not a bad feeling, but what is it? So am I willing to feel in my body? That feeling. Yeah.

What advice would you give to any of the leaders or the entrepreneurs that are listening, um, that are secretly hiding a part of themselves that maybe they feel ashamed of or afraid of? Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. That they don't know how to handle differently. Yeah. First of all, I'm gonna say, uh, al in, like that's a lot of work and energy and time and um, and fear that is being taken up by, by those feelings that are muddying up your already tough experience, right?

So I'm gonna just like throw my little chicken wing around your shoulder and I'm gonna say, Hey, that's a hundred percent okay. You have not been taught this. You have not been taught this, like our culture is one that is not, um, not super open about having feelings that are challenging and especially not for a long period of time, like whatever period of time it takes to actually go through and like be willing to feel and then feel so leaders with these parts.

You don't have to be strong. You don't have to keep it together. This is what support can be exactly for, is for like a hundred percent release and it can be different kinds of support. Mm-hmm. Like there's lots of, lots and lots of menus of support that are available in grief and loss, if that's part of your.

Makeup is change and navigating that there is a time to be strong and to present or do whatever you need to do during a day. And there's also time to balance it out and go ahead and be soft and find out what that is to be soft for you. Like that's an exploration all on its own and it's much gentler and more nurturing.

Than what I know I was telling myself in my own head before I started diving in. Yeah.

Hey, if you're enjoying this episode, I wanna invite you to come join us on May 19th through the 21st for the Shadow Side Leadership Summit. It's gonna be an entire weekend where we're gonna dive into these conversations around identity and leadership, around mental and emotional health, around how to support ourselves so that we can truly lead others in a more impactful way, that we also get to experience, connection, and joy along the journey.

Shadow side leadership Go sign up and we'll see you inside. Oh, one other thing. Yeah. Even if you're diving in and it feels like you're gonna die, it's okay. Like that's a time and space for support and like slow it. Slow it down, slow it down. Like some people talk about like gears, like put it in first gear.

I'm like, no, get outta the car and push. Slow it down. Like, yeah, that's okay. It's still progress. This is tender areas. Yeah. Like proceed with care, not caution, proceed with care. Yeah. And what about for the person that's hearing that, but that still has this belief inside of them? That if I show my underbelly mm-hmm.

My humanity, my dark parts, my shadow parts, the parts of me that I don't like, that I'm ashamed of. Like what would you say to the person that that is afraid to open up to that fear? Mm-hmm. That uncertainty. Because they're afraid that they might lose respect or authority. Yeah. Well, one thing we haven't talked about is like, what is trusted support that you are opening up to and for, for some of you, it's gonna be a lot of work.

And here's what I did. I didn't open up to it, but I let it sit on the couch with me. Mm-hmm. We were on the same couch for a little while. And I just acknowledged and recognized it was there and went about my day. Mm-hmm. So like opening up to it. And that's what I mean by acknowledgement. You're not losing anything to like notice or acknowledge what's around you.

In fact, that's probably. A healthy thing. So you notice and and acknowledge what's around you. And that can be actual things. Like I have a phone, I have a lipstick, there's avocado. Oh, there's a bag of chips. Here's my glasses. Oh, um, shame. Yeah. And then paper towels and some soap and a dish scrubber. And then what do you do when you find yourself?

Either noticing the shame or whatever it is the thing, right? The wound, the hurt, the pain, the rejection, that feeling of unworthiness, the anxiety, the depression, like. I think there are so many people out there in the world, Wendy, that are terrified to do that because mm-hmm. It sucks, it hurts. It's painful, it's uncomfortable.

And also there's just this fear that I'm gonna be defined by it. That that's gonna be then who I am. And I don't want that. I don't, that's, I don't wanna be that person. Yeah. And also if I open the door to that and acknowledge it, that I'm just gonna get sucked into a black hole and I'm just gonna drown in that thing and I'm never out.

Right. And this is like part of what our brains do. Healthy human brains that are just like, yeah, here's how I protect you is I talk you out of the thing you want that is going to require. And invite you so hard to grow. And so I would share, like, yeah, take a look at what you currently label as support in your life, how you use it.

Are you getting what you want and need out of it? And like, you know, Rob and I saw this sign that it was on the, um, the life coach school thing. And it was, it just brings up the, you know, are you willing to let go of a micrometer? Of what you think you are in order to become the person you want to be or have the experience you want or get the result that you want, are you willing to exchange the person that you are, for the person you want to become?

And this can be so incremental. Like here's where the hope is. Is that like the tiniest hair of progress? Still counts. This is something we learn though. This is something that like I didn't learn how to count tiny, tiny steps in progress by myself. Yeah. That wasn't just anointed on me and then I had this like, oh, well here's what I value.

Tiny progress. No, I wanted like the big burning bush of like total transformation. Bring it right now. Yeah. No, no, because actually that's not safe. For me, that was not a safe way of going about it. It was incremental and steady and gentle, and that's not what my brain wanted. That's my brain was a bully in my head.

Yeah. And so coming back to, okay, well I know I'm afraid of that. One thing I would, I would also ask or offer that people look at is, are you becoming. The feeling or the thing you're afraid of, or are you observing it? So, I am scared, I am terrified. I am devastated. Or is it I'm having a moment where I am feeling pretty undone.

I'm having, I am feeling pretty wobbly. I am having a moment where I am noticing like, Dread anticipation or devastation like that can be real. That can be totally real. But not becoming it with your language is how we create a little bit of distance and we don't associate that we are it, but we have capacity to experience it without becoming it.

Yeah. And this is how we also don't get undone. Yeah. It's one of those things. Yeah. And what about the people who have been on this journey for a while? Right now, my mind is going to, the people like to the coaches that are out there listening to this that are like, yeah, yeah. Like, listen, like I'm a coach, I do this work with clients.

I know, I know, right? I'm not my mind. Mm-hmm. My thoughts, whatever like that. It's just an emotion. Like what about for the people that like know all the answers. They've been on the journey, they've done the work. They, you know, they've done the practice. But it's like, the thing that we know to be true is that again, there's no off-ramp to the human experience.

Mm-hmm. We do not ever escape it. Like mm-hmm. It may change forms, it might show up in a different way, but it's like, even as you grow, there's always gonna be that 50 50. Right. And so when we think about those, those entrepreneurs, those leaders, the people that are out there that have, you know, that are experiencing these levels of success that are still in that 50 50.

Mm-hmm. What would be something that you would invite them to consider as a, as a, as a potentially a new way? Mm-hmm. Of allowing themselves to continue making mental health, mental fitness, and everyday supportive practice. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. That would, that would help them to have a more peaceful relationship with that human experience.

I love it. I'm gonna answer with two options. Um, and so one is, hey, maybe there's a natural season of growth. An expansion and maybe there's a natural season of holding and maintaining. So I'm gonna share that the, yes, 50 50 improvement is always available. And maybe this is not that. Like if there's a third option where there's some maintenance and you're able to sort of like cruise along in enjoyment and in um, awareness, then maybe increasing your enjoyment and awareness is the job.

And then so many of us have trouble with enjoyment. I know, right? And so like this can be about like, oh, how do I learn how to receive better and more and faster? Because like that's an option. And then the other part is I do wanna like touch on this because for those who have. Done a lot of work and then they find that there's a little bit more work.

This is a hundred percent natural. Now, when I have done a lot of work and I have, and I find that there's more work and I do, um, I get annoyed and irritated and what the hell is there doing, being more work here? I thought I was done and it's a new level. It's a new level. And so I get to claim that as growth, I get to claim that as progress.

I get to remind myself I was doing other things, which is why now is the time that this is presenting. Mm-hmm. And so talking myself, walking myself back to, yeah, this is right on time and this is all right. The other, um, you know, just because people can get, so my clients and people that I meet and talk to, Like we can get so down on ourselves for having more work to do when it was always gonna be more work to do.

Like our biggest teachers are gonna give us like our deepest levels of shadow work. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And for me, like that's my mom. Yeah. Mom's big teacher. Well, and I almost even wonder if that word work is part of the problem for some of us, where it's like, oh, where it feels like work. Because I hear that from, from clients a lot and from people, you know, in the community a lot where it's like, oh, it just feels like work.

And it's like, I don't know. I'm curious. Like, you know, for, for the coaches out there and the, and the people in, in the, in the leadership industry, like. You know, is there this sense of like obligation that comes to it or this thing that you have to do, right? Or it like would that be something worth exploring?

Like what do I want my relationship with this thing to be? Because just like you talked about, we get to choose our words and our language, which is so powerful. So even when you say like, I am. Depressed, or I am anxious, or I am afraid, or I am, whatever. Like that might be a fun thing for people to explore, right?

Mm-hmm. Like what if you used different words and didn't, didn't use those I am statements and just said, you know, right. Like, I noticed that I'm, I'm feeling something. Mm-hmm. And I wonder if there's, there's something about the way that we can define our relationship to. This process cuz it's always this process of becoming.

Mm-hmm. And so, um, that just might, that was just something that I just thought of when you said that. Like, wondering if that, if that even that word or that that work was Yep. If that sometimes creates a, a sense of kind of dread or like, ugh around it instead of being able to get to a point where we think about it as something that we get to do Right.

And right. And so what works? You know, like what works is for you, it wherever you are at that time. Sometimes work is a problematic word, and that had a lot to do with my relationship with work, including previous Jos, right? Sometimes I call it support people's, not, some people love it. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Some people are like all about it. Like, yeah, that is my, that's my healing job is healing me. Totally. I love work. Let's go. Yeah, right. I'm in, I'm down. And that was not always the case, but having like a different relationship with support. Yeah. Could be, uh, totally a gentler opening. Yeah, cuz it kind of reminds me of my, when I, you know, when I, my weight loss journey, honestly, when I was really working on healing my relationship with food and like, I had spent so much time like dieting and trying to quit the binge eating and stop this and do that and, you know, and do it better.

And, and that did feel like work. But when I realized that, that it was really all about, again, nurturing and supporting myself and healing myself, and when I began to look at it as love and an opportunity to love myself. And I was like, you deserve this. You're worthy of this. You, you're worth it. Right. And I, and everything that I did from that point on was really just an expression of love.

And that really made it so much easier and gentler, like you said, to be able to go through that in a more sustainable way. Yeah. All right. Wendy, one more question. Mm-hmm. And then I'd like you to tell people how they can find you, find out more about you. My question for you, Wendy, is what has been your moment of greatest joy along this journey?

They're happening all the time. Honestly. Like sometimes I'll find myself, like I'll have been hypnotized by um, some challenge or something I can't control and I'll wake up in, um, like, oh my gosh, this is exactly the perfect cup of Lan tea. Oh, this is per, this pen is writing so great. Right now. I am like fully loving it.

Strawberry season. I can't wait. So like these moments of waking up in my life where the moments are, um, tremendous and vital and loving. I don't always love them, but like these are like moments and acknowledgements as well, where, oh my gosh, it feels amazing to be alive and I feel alive. Yeah. I love that the things that bring life are what bring joy.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. How can people find out more about you? Wendy, thanks. Come on over to Going Inside Me. And that is a group coaching program and we talk all about feelings and emotions and how to feel 'em. We also talk about thoughts and feelings management, grief and loss. Um, and it is, It is a new offering that you are wholly invited to, wholeheartedly and holy.

Beautiful. I love it. Thank you so much for being here and spending your time with us today. Budget pleasure.

If you enjoy this episode, take a screenshot of it for me and share it on your favorite social media platform so that your friends can find out about it too. And in the meantime, I just wanna invite you to remember that you are beautiful, that you are worthy, that you belong, and that you are powerful beyond measure.

See you next time.