My client, Jillian, brilliantly represents and coaches her clients so that they find themselves in venues that best fit their talents. They feel seen in the best light by audiences, and they are thrilled with her work.
Who would imagine that Jillian secretly yearns for the limelight, herself, and is, at the same time, deathly afraid of it? Who would stop to ask Jillian about her desires beyond the services she offers, or why she crafts her life so that she cannot easily be seen?
This is her persistent challenge: she ardently desires the limelight she won't let herself reach. Jillian, like all of us, has a beautiful camouflage of talents that makes it hard for others to guess her hidden desires. Jillian has had psychotherapy, meditated. received body work, talk to beloved friends, and at one point even practiced scream therapy - yet there it remains: her unattainable desire.
After thousands of intuitive reading and healings, I have come to realize that the motifs of persistent challenges are not our weak spots, but rather they are conundrums that contain the very lessons our soul came to learn. Soul lessons are deeply hidden. In Jillian's case, she did not directly address this pain until she found that even her success was unfulfilling.
As she wondered about her own lack of enthusiasm for her accomplishments, Jillian admitted to me that she often pushes away the small, quiet voice of her own desire to be more visible. As we moved into the session, Jillian said, "I've had it with this part of me that tells my 'inner actor' to be still! I also wish that little actor could grow up and just take the stage!"
Rather than conquer or quiet any of these parts, we thanked each part, asking each why it was important to show up or hide exactly as it has been doing. I have found that when we make a commitment to befriend inner vulnerability, and approach ourselves with compassion, the soul lesson is more likely to unfold its secrets and empty its contents. After finding out a little more from each part, I looked at Jillian's energy, and Saw a story unfold - one you could call a "past life" or archetype.
In this case, Jillian was the third sibling in a family of four brothers and three sisters in a poorer neighborhood in Ireland. Her father drank and ranted, then left, returning only on occasion. Embarrassed by their father's behavior and abandonment, each member of the family kept their heads down and worked diligently to earn money for food and clothes.
Jillian was not like any of her more plain sisters. She was strikingly beautiful, loved to sing, and was quite taken with herself. Hard work was not on her list of priorities, so she would bribe her younger siblings to do her work. After years of chiding from her mother and siblings, Jillian left her disapproving family, moved out of town, changed her name, and took to the stage. Eventually she became a noted actress and singer.
She never went back to her family's farm, not wanting to remember or be associated with her father or her poor family. After some years away, an audience member caught her attention as she was leaving the theater. It was her younger brother, George. He looked bedraggled.
He told Jillian about the family's struggles to stay afloat and what each sibling did to contribute. Their eldest brother, Mark, found a respectable job in an accounting office and carried the whole family for a while. One day he was fired because he stayed home to take care of their mother when she was ill. When he couldn't find another job, he was so ashamed that he killed himself. There was no money for doctors and their mother died from her illness.
For the first time, Jillian opened to her pain and feelings of being rejected by her family, and then realized it was she who had rejected them. Her preoccupation with herself and the limelight had prevented her from seeing how she could have mended fences, contributed to her family, and even saved her brother and mother's lives. Her self-judgment led to a lack of self-forgiveness. She made a commitment to herself then and there that she would no longer seek the stage.
In this life, her persistent challenge is fueled by a fear-based belief that if she takes the stage, she will forget to care for others, which could result in their suffering or death - and those outcomes would be her fault. When I articulated this, Jillian said, "I've always felt like it would be dangerous for me to be in the spotlight but could never understand why I felt that way or where I would get that idea!"
Her soul lesson is not only about withholding the stage from herself, it is also about recognizing the path of love that she took to avoid the stage. She has learned to listen, care, and support others and these have become her gifts, talents, and skills. Nothing is lost. If, at this point, Jillian forgives herself, she can continue to embrace the gifts she has amassed as a coach and caregiver, and also reclaim her entitlement to the limelight. Her soul lesson regarding the humility and sensitivity to others' needs had been learned. Now her hidden fear that she might forget again could be faced and released.
A few weeks ago, Jillian told me that she won a role in a community musical - yes, she informed me after the Reading that she has always loved to sing. Jillian said she brings her whole self to the song as well as to the audience. "When I sing now," she said, "I feel the light come through me and out to the audience and then back to me, all in a connected whole."
So the next time you feel a familiar challenge, bless yourself, and embrace all aspects of its hidden nature. Your soul lesson is calling!