Learning to unlearn
I've noticed a number of new people have signed up recently so I thought I'd write a post explaining who I am and what I do in a little more detail than on my website.
So, hi - I'm Helen. I'm a certified personal and professional life coach, writer, and teacher.
I have been involved in the personal development world in one capacity or another for two decades and the work I do is all centered around the concept of transformation.
I spent much of my 20s in the education and charity sectors - helping people learn and develop. I worked in a church for a number of those years and spiritual development is a big part of the work that I do.
And then in my 30s I learned to question everything about the life I was building. My life wasn't bad. In fact according to many measures I was succeeding. I was a wife and mum, in leadership positions in my work. I'd written a couple of books and was invited to various meetings and conferences to speak about faith and personal development. I had a blog that had a reasonable following and was breaking some glass ceilings as a female speaker in the church setting. I lived in a nice house, went on amazing holidays each year... but was silently questioning everything.
In the world I come from, doubt is not celebrated or rewarded.
As a female Christian leader, blogger, and speaker I felt like there was a clear script about what I was supposed to do and who I was supposed to be. I was handed a set of beliefs that I swallowed whole without really considering the consequences.
At 33 I quit my job in the church. At 35 I discovered coaching. At 37 I left the church completely and at 41 I left my marriage.
Well, the short answer (and other blog posts will likely give a longer answer) - I started to realise the power of unlearning.
We are all raised with a worldview. Mine was a Western Christian worldview. Whether yours was like mine or not, you'll have one too. With every worldview comes a script about how to succeed and belong in that system. This script is not necessarily all bad, but it is powerful and often is likely not of your making.
I suppose what happened in my 30s was a grand awakening to the process of shedding the expectations of others in order to gain the agency to create a faith, a business, a way of working and a life that was aligned and life-giving.
So I never lost my faith, I lost someone else's. And that meant stepping away from the church system that told me to believe things I didn't believe and to behave in ways that didn't serve my freedom and my fulfillment. I also refused to run my business according to old rules from old systems based on money, influence and power.
In more recent years, I've shed old systems that kept me in a lifeless marriage; that defined my femininity; that controlled my view of the divine and my way of engaging with the world around me.
Systems are coming down. Old systems that are killing our planet, are driving our men to suicide, are wrecking the lives of LGBTQ and black bodies, and that are silencing and shrinking our women.
This is not a world I want to support or want my children to live in.
And so now I use my training as a coach and a writer to preach a new message - that everyone has a voice (not just straight white powerful men), that God is not boxed for the few but pulsing through everything and for everyone. I am passionate about the shedding of toxic femininity and masculinity and the unhealthy power dynamic they create in workplaces, faith systems, and families. I am deeply committed to my own unlearning and unbecoming - and in helping others to do the same.
I have always believed the cliche that we only get one life and that what we choose to do with our time, resources, skills, and opportunities matters.
My one wild and wonderful life is going to be spent on reform: of seeing where the 'forms' or systems we are surrounded by are no longer working for us and in being a part of the change into something ultimately more free and beautiful.