Have you ever felt like you just don't fit in, like there's something wrong with you? That's exactly how Linda Heeler felt not only as a child but the majority of her life. Even though she had it all, a loving husband, two healthy kids, a house, and a good job, something was missing. In this episode, Linda relates the story of her struggle with paralyzing anxiety, fear, guilt, perfectionism, people-pleasing, how it developed, and her journey to “fix” herself. Also, listen how Linda’s search to heal herself, not only led to her happiness, but also her purpose.
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Welcome to Episode Two of the normal lies podcast. This episode was originally going to be episode one, but I struggled with it because it's all about me. And I kept going back and forth about whether I should even post it or not. I edited the heck out of it. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't do that. The voice in my head said that if people listen to this first episode, they be annoyed by the editing and would probably never listen again. It also said, Who do I think I am that anyone would care about my story? Rene Browns definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. And that's totally what I'm feeling, not just with this episode, but with his whole podcast process. So I'm doing what I hope you will do. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. taking the risk and being with the uncertainty and the emotional exposure. If you're brave enough to keep listening, you'll hear how I learned doing just that is the only way to get what we want in life. I appreciate you listening and remind you that the more we practice, the better we get. And I ramas that goes for me in this podcast as well. If you're looking for a one size fits all easy approach to changing your life, this is not the podcast for you. However, if you are delighted by tough questions, love hard and sometimes messy conversations, then you are in the right place. I'm Linda Heeler, professional certified coach and host of the normal lies podcast. During my 10 years of coaching, I have helped dozens of clients change their lives simply by questioning the beliefs they thought were true. Now it's your turn to uncover the normal lies in your life is a beautiful day here in western New York. As I record this, it is February and it's cold, but the sun is shining. So it is reason to celebrate here. Because in the wintertime, you don't get a lot of sun. To understand more about what this podcast is all about. I think it's important for you to know a little bit more about me and my story. As I said, I live in western New York near Rochester. And I feel like I have to explain that because every time I say that I'm from New York, no matter where I go. People think of New York City I while I Love New York City. I live about six and a half hours West. I live south of Rochester in a rural town of about oh six or 7000 people and I live in an area where agriculture is our main industry. And I think there there are probably more cows than people living in our town. And right now my cat has decided to start scratching at the door. I don't know if you can hear that. Hopefully not. But if you do hear that scratching, it's my cat pepper. So I was born and raised here in this small town, my great grandparents who lived in Rochester, and they bought a house on 10 acres here in aven. And my parents ended up building their house on that land. So we lived next to my great grandparents and I am so grateful that I actually knew my great grandmother and my great grandfather, my Nana and granddaddy. So I grew up on I call it a little farmette we had a horse and a pony we had a cower to over the years we had a pig at one point we had dogs and cats. And at that time we used to have stray dogs show up we used to have stray cats I remember one time there was there was a box of kittens dropped off by the edge of the road near our house, I could hear the meowing and I'm so grateful to my parents for letting me take those kittens in and I raised them. Most of them survive animals have are just extremely important to me. In fact, I've told my kids that when I get older that if they have to put me in a home, that's fine. I totally understand that. My only request is that either the that the end that the nursing home have an animal or that they are allowed to bring in their dog or cat for a visit because animals are just so important in my life. I learned how to muck out a barn, Sunday mornings after church. My brother and I were out there cleaning out the barn I learned how to ride a horse. I learned, you know, all the things that a country girl learns how to how to garden, how to grow my own vegetables, how to sew, how to cook, how to drive a tractor. I drove a tractor before I drove a car and that was that was a trip. We had to cut alfalfa we had behind our house on some of the acreage planted alfalfa. I don't know if you're aware of this when you cut alfalfa and then you let it dry in the field and then you come along with a hay baler and you Bell it up. So dried alfalfa is actually called Hey, we would every summer probably a couple times caught the alfalfa, let it dry. And then my dad and my brothers would bail it and they the Baylor's, his bells were pretty heavy, so I couldn't lift them. So I got delegated to drive the tractor, I would drive the tractor and with that had the wagon on the back, and my dad and my brothers would toss the bales of hay onto the wagon and stack them. And I remember, peak so scared, because I read just remember praying that I wouldn't hit a wood, charcoal, because that would send the the tractor and the wagon off balance, and it would dump the load of hay. And then oh my gosh, then they would have to pick up the bales that they just threw on and re stack them. And when that happened, my brothers were definitely not happy with me. Oh, so did I mention that I have three brothers. I have two older brothers and one younger brother. I always wished that I was a boy because they really got to do some really cool stuff. You know, they got to walk to the ice cream joint to Anis dairy, and they would get they could get candy and ice cream. And my older brothers. They were five and six years older than me. They had jobs just up the road, there was a bigger farm, they were able to go up the road and do sorts all sorts of cool things. I wanted to be a boy, not only was I a girl, but I am the first girl born in my dad's family. And 150 years here sounds pretty cool, right? The only thing is, I always felt like my parents really didn't know what to do with me. I mean, they loved me. They worried about me because I was a girl. They protected me and they were not bad parents. They were just doing what they'd been taught. They were doing what they felt was right. I wasn't allowed to walk up the road to the dairy. It was a busy street. And honestly, it wasn't safe for a young girl to do that by herself. But it also seemed like there were a lot of rules that I had to follow in order to be a proper young lady. As a kid, I really didn't want to follow the rules all the time. I come from an era where children are to be seen and not heard. I love my family. They're all good people. And just like I want my kids to understand, I have good intentions as a parent. And I know that my parents had my best interest at heart and their people. We all make mistakes. I know that as a parent myself, I have and will make mistakes. And I also know that I cannot be everything that my children need. What I can do is to acknowledge when I make a mistake or apologize for something that I did that hurt my children when they were growing up as Maya Angelou says when we know better, we do better. There's a parenting tip for you. We need to listen to our children, not just have them be seen but not heard. We are going to talk more about that on a future episode. As a kid I also experienced bullying. I think every kid goes through this back then we didn't call it bullying. It was teasing along with the impact of all the worry and the over protection that I experienced as a kid I really developed this fear of people and the world I made up that the world was something to be afraid of and that people were scary and not to be trusted. I needed to protect myself that I became invisible. I became shy. I became a people pleaser and a perfectionist. I was always on the lookout for try and fly under the radar. I really don't remember a lot of my childhood because I was so busy using my strategies just to survive each day. I also come from a generation of people Who were raised not to express their emotions, don't cry, just tough it out. I didn't feel I had the right to feel what I felt I started pushing my feelings down. I remember being teased on the bus when I was a kid. The advice that I got from some of the adults in my life loving adults was to ignore the taunts. They said, if you don't respond, they're going to get tired, and they're they're just going to leave you alone. They did eventually leave me alone. Eventually, after they called me fat, ugly, stupid, everything they could think of to try and get a rhizotomy to get me to react. But I didn't budge. I sat there. And I took their insults until they moved on to the next kid. It was the beginning of the voice in my head, picking up those hurtful words thinking that they are the truth. Why would those people say those things, so they must be true, right? That voice in my head, said those hurtful words over and over and over. That was the beginning of thinking that there was something wrong with me. I was broken and worthless. Just like the bully said, My fear was so big that I learned how to blend in so I wouldn't be called on at school because if I made a mistake, people would know that I really am stupid. Even though I was an A B student. I always felt I was an imposter. I was a fraud. I had a burning desire to not be afraid of everyone and everything. I just started white knuckling it through and I learned to put on a happy face and pretend that all was well. It's kind of like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars where he waves his hands in front of the storm troopers and says these are not the droids that you were looking for. Only I was nothing to see here. I got everything handle and I'm happy. It was a lie. I was miserable. There was something in me that didn't want it to be this way. I tried out for cheerleading when I tried out in grade school. I didn't make it and I was totally crushed by didn't try out again until junior high. I tried out for the JV squad. I worked so hard and I practiced and practice again. I didn't make it an amazing thing happened. varsity cheerleaders came up to me and said that they couldn't believe that I didn't make it. And they encouraged me to try again the following year. So that whole year I practiced in my room. jumping in front of the mirror, I wanted this so much. And especially because my mom was a cheerleader. I really wanted to make her proud. There was just something inside of me that wanted it though. I tried out again. And I did make it this time. That was the first time I remember thinking if I work really are then I can do anything. That's another lie. As I look back on that, and I look at the people that were put in my place. Yes, I had to do the work. I had to have a bit of talent. I had to work hard to develop that talent. But I also had other people on my side. I didn't get there on my own. And I thought I did I thought it was back then I was like I worked hard. So I got this there was a bit of luck and relationship that created it. So this is another thing we're going to talk about as we move forward. I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn't have any money. You know, I worked a part time job up the road and isteri scooping ice cream. Yes, I finally got to go to Anna stary. I didn't know how I would pay for a four year degree. I wanted to be a French teacher at first. But then I thought now I really love psychology. I if I go into psychology, maybe I can figure out how to fix myself. And in order to do this, I'm going to have to take out student loans. This was back in the early 80s. There were really weren't that many jobs for someone with a psych degree. I started dating this guy. He was a friend. I grown up with him. We were in the same first grade class. We started dating our senior year, even if I hadn't married this guy, which I did end up marrying him. I knew that I wanted to be married I wanted to have kids and I wanted to be the one to raise our kids. After graduation I decided to go to our local community college and study dental hygiene. It was really really difficult because I still had that fear. I was white knuckling it through and no one would have known that I was in so much fear and anxiety all the time when I graduated from there still dating the same I after I graduated and the next year, we got married two years after that we bought a house, I got a job I was working, I would go to work and come home. There were times when I didn't want to go anywhere. I was even afraid to talk to people on the phone. This was before cell phones and even answering machines having the phone ring without caller ID to know who was on the other end. Oh my gosh, I have to know who it is. So I can prepare myself for this conversation. Whoever it is, there were times when it was a chore to even go to the grocery store. I'm just grateful that I had my job that made me work with people because I started to learn more about myself and about other people then came my daughter pregnancy scary Gao in the world am I going to go to the hospital and have this baby come out of there and have a bunch of people in the room watching what's going on this shy person, I didn't know how I would do that I was actually in labor for 22 hours, I think that I can can attribute that length of labor to how scared I was to not only just give birth, but to then be responsible for this other human being when I was having a tough time being responsible for myself. And getting through the day. I remember, as I was getting my daughter dressed to come home from the hospital. I remember thinking and looking at her, I may have even said it out loud, I do not want you to be as scared of the world as I am. So I will not let you see me afraid. The white knuckling continued, I loved being a mom, three years later, our son was born. And we had our perfect little family, the house, the kids and a boy and a girl, my husband and I, we had good jobs. We had it all. But I wasn't happy. I felt guilty. Every time I even thought about not being happy. I had so much more than a lot of people had, I should be grateful, right. But there was something inside of me that was searching for a purpose. At that point, it really wouldn't have mattered what it was because again, I'd be too scared to pursue it. I threw myself into being a wife and a mom, because I had made that promise to my kids that I did not want them to be afraid of the world, I decided I was going to go see a therapist. It just so happened that the pastor of our church had his doctorate in pastoral counseling, which was really important to me because my faith is very important. I really liked how we could talk about the impact of my faith and what I believe on what was going on with the fear inside my head. I found it very helpful and was really quickly able to see how I was using my experiences of not feeling seen or heard as a child to continue to push through and not listen to me throughout all this time. I'm going to therapy and I'm continuing to read self help books and search for that thing that would bring meaning and purpose to my life and ultimately fix me and heal me of the fear that was just so overwhelming. I would get done a few sessions with my therapist and then I'd go back and I kept going back to him and telling him that I wasn't fixed because I still had so much fear we would just rehash all the old stuff, but I'm still scared. This episode of the normal lies podcast is brought to you by your emotions. Did you know that emotions that seem to happen to you are made by you? And that you have more control over your emotions than you think you do? Are you aware that feelings are simple summaries of what's going on inside your body? Like a barometer? According to the research by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, a University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, emotions are built and not built in. And if you change the ingredients that your brain uses to make emotion, then you can transform your emotional life. For more information head over to Dr. Barrett's 2017 TED Talk. You aren't at the mercy of your emotions, your brain creates them. Well, yeah, it is scary walking into a room of people that you don't know. It really didn't matter whether it was people that I knew or are not. In fact, most of the time it was more scary in a roomful of people that I knew. Because I was so afraid of their judgement. I just wanted to know and wanted to be sure that they didn't think poorly of me. I have a small group of high school friends. And we would get together if someone was coming in from out of town. There were times when I would say, Oh, yeah, I'll be there. The day would happen. And there is no way I can go to that event. So I wouldn't go. And then there were other times when I would say I'm not coming. And then I would just show up, like, it's like, oh, surprise, I'm here because I was having a good day. The thing about the social situations, too, is, most of the time a glass of wine or two helped me get through the event. I just kept going on. I was so afraid I was going to make a mistake. People were going to judge me, perfectionism took over my thought process was that if I can't do it perfectly, then I won't do it at all. I also would do what I thought would make other people happy because I thought if I made them happy, they'll like me, hello, people pleasing. All this time, I thought that I was being unselfish, always thinking of others, never taking my needs into account. There hasn't been too long, that it dawned on me How selfish, perfectionism and people pleasing are their lies. Think about it. It's all about me, trying to avoid other people's judgments, trying to make people like me. Sounds pretty manipulative, doesn't it? That's, it's pretty selfish. It really has nothing to do with anyone else. But me. Let that sink in there for a minute. This cycle of people pleasing and perfectionism and the fear and all of this, it left me exhausted and depressed. When I use the word depressed. I was not ever diagnosed with depression. I'm using this as a term for a very deep sadness. So I just want to make that clear. There were times when it felt like a deep dark hole opened up and swallowed me. All I wanted to do was sleep, watch TV, and eat a big bag of peanut m&ms. I couldn't check out like this too often or for very long, because I had a family to take care of and I had to go to work. The voice in my head was on a loop saying, stop complaining. You have a good life. You should be happy and grateful for what you have. I put a smile on my face. And I continued to push through. As I look back now, I realize that I only allowed myself to nap or take a break if I was sick. And for a period of time, I got sick fairly regularly. A coincidence? I think not. Between my anxiety and feelings of depression. I felt like a zombie walking through life. My world seemed to have no color. It was just kind of gray. It was hard to be grateful for anything because I was just trying to get through the day. I remember sitting on the couch watching Oprah hoping that one of her shows might have an answer to fix me. I remember thinking how I was meant to do much more, there was a voice in my head telling me that I could never have what I want. So why even bother trying? I continued to try and figure out how to fix myself reading self help and spiritual books, praying, pleading with God to forgive me for all the bad things that I've done. I mean, this is why I'm being punished right and to fix me so that I could live in peace. I believe as a child that God was a punt this punishing figure, this father figure that lived in the clouds and looked down on me and judged every thought and deed I judged every negative thought I had and punished myself with guilt. Here's another lie. The more I read and the more I learn, I came to realize that there was another way to experience God. God is a loving force, a force for good, a force that has my back and wants the best for me. It was difficult to let go of this lie that I had made up about God. There were people who told me that I was wrong. Some of them were people that I love. I knew that I had to search for my own truth. I found a piece of that true When I read the book, a new earth by Eckhart totally, it was Oprah's book club selection back in 2008. And the thing that caught my attention was the subtitle, and the subtitle is awakening to your life's purpose. And there it is a promise that this book would lead me through a process of finding my purpose. I was in hook, line and sinker, you had me at life's purpose. It was not what I thought it was, it was not another step by step guide to finding your life purpose. Instead, it was about being present in the moment. Eckhart totally helped me realize that I was living as a victim of my past, which that's what was causing my sadness, my depression, I was also terrified of making mistakes, and constantly trying to anticipate what would make others happy. I was worried about the future and trying to not have the other shoe drop. That's what caused my anxiety. I was either living in the past, probably simultaneously, I was living in the past, sad, and living in the future, anxious. I was not enjoying what was happening in the here. And now during this time. I really, as I said, I didn't really have a lot of close friends. I mean, how could I, I wouldn't let anybody know me. I was so closed off. Heck, I didn't even know who I was what I liked, because I was so busy trying to be everything to everybody to make them happy. They even had this thought another lie, that if I made them happy, is everybody in my life was happy, then I'd be happy. It's a lie. Eckhart totally a new earth. I loved this book. But it was a little confusing. Oprah she did a webinar. I think it was like one of the first webinars ever. She talked to Eckhart totally about the book. And they even had people I think, on Skype, asked questions, and they were talking about it was like, Oh, my gosh, I'm starting to understand even more. And this is exciting to me, I want to talk about this. So I bought a couple copies of the book. And I gave them to some family members. And I was so excited when they called me up. And he said, Come on over cuz we've read the book, and we want to talk to you about it. That excitement didn't last very long, they started pointing out all the things that were wrong about what Becker totally was saying in the book. However, it did not stop me. They were concerned about me, I get that. I also knew that I couldn't talk to them about this anymore. I still had this desire to talk about this book, I looked up on Oprah's website, and she had a listing of book groups in this area. There was one that fit my schedule, but it was in downtown Rochester. And for me that may as well have been on the moon. Now my anxiety was so great that I never drove anywhere that I didn't know exactly how to get to. Now keep in mind too, this was also before GPS and our phones, in order to have directions, we would have to print them out, we have MapQuest, I would not drive any further than 20 minutes north, it was the first exit off of the expressway. And the reason that I never drove any further was because that I was afraid I'd get lost. And as I said, this was before GPS. If I got lost, then I knew that I would have to stop and ask someone for directions. If I did that. My fear is number one, I was afraid of people, I might choose the wrong person to ask for directions and I'd get hurt or they think or she's stupid, and she's a loser. So that's going on in my head. I wanted to attend that book groups so badly, and I found a way to get there so I wouldn't have to drive on the expressway. I also talked coworker. I talked her into going with me that way. If we got lost, she could be the one to get out and ask for directions and not be I know such a chicken. I attended that book group for three years. I met my best friend in that book group. It was in that book group that hi met my first life coach. It was this life coach who facilitated the group. And at that time, I had no idea What a coach did. However, he asked the most amazing questions. He never told us what we should think. If the conversation got stopped, he would just throw out a question that would really make us thing. If the discussion got a little heated, he was able to step right in and calm things down. After about six months of being in this group, I finally got up enough nerve to talk to him. I don't think I ever talked to him directly before that, when I got up the nerve to ask him what he did as a coach. And he explained that he helped people figure out their goals, the actions that it was going to take to get them there. He said that he's got the tools and the training to help his clients step outside their comfort zone, and keep that voice in their head from continuing to sabotage themselves. I came home and told my husband, I think I found out not just what I need, but I think I found out what it is that I meant to do. I told my husband that I would like to hire a coach and see if this is something I want to do. My husband, I talked about it. And he's like, I know you try and hide it. But I know you're not happy if this will help you. We'll figure this out. I interviewed a few coaches. I called up Greg and I ended up hiring him and working with him with coaching. It's about where do you want to be in the future? It's very future based. When he asked me what I wanted to do what the future looked like. And I said, I think I want to be a coach. And within a month of working with him, I said to him, this is what I want to do. Because I know at that point, even though I felt alone, in my fear, I knew that there were other people who were going through exactly what I was going through looking for answers. And I knew that this was what I wanted to do is to help people find their answers, find themselves, because that's what he was doing for me is creating this partnership, not telling me what to do, but creating a partnership, where I got to learn about me, he gave me the space to say the things that I never felt I could say before. Yeah, I'm getting emotional. He never judged me. I was able to show up, however, I wanted to show up. And he gave me the tools that I still use to this day. When I said to Greg, you know, I want to do what you do. I want to be a coach. And he said, okay, all you have to do is print out a card and say you're a coach. I didn't have enough confidence in myself, let alone to put myself out there and ask to be paid as a coach, and I said I need training. So he sent me to the ICF. The ICF stands for the International coach Federation, I looked at some coach training programs, I ended up going through the same coach training program that my coach went through one thing that I am very proud of myself about, I never gave up. I kept pushing through. And I also called myself out on things. I have done a lot of work to be able to be here today to say that I know that the voice in my head is not who I am. I know for a fact it's a story I made up as a kid, I know that I am a beloved child of God. And so were you. And if you don't use the word God, that's okay God universe life rainbow unicorn, I don't care what you call it, I continue to pinpoint the lies that have become normal in my life, the lies that keep me from sharing who I am and living a life that I love. The last 10 years I've worked with my clients to uncover the lies that are running their lives and build a life from their authentic self. And that's what we're going to do here. Each week, we're going to question those thoughts and beliefs. But first, you've got to figure out what those are. What's your story? Are you living in the now or are you still a victim of the past if you notice that your past keeps coming up, then you may want to consider working with a therapist. And the same thing is true if you notice that you are experiencing anxiety about the future. I really recommend working with a professional therapist if you have healed your emotional wounds and are ready to create what's next. Then you're ready to work with a coach. I know coaching has given me my life and helped me create more joy. Now I help others do the same. So that's it. So this has been a bit about me. I look forward to getting to know you. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast rate and leave a review. You can leave a question there or contact me at Linda at normal dash flies.com. I look forward to next time. Make it a great day.