If you said yes to this question, I so relate to your pain. Just a few short years ago, I would have definitely said YES to this question. I remember every time I would hear Wayne Dyer give a lecture, he would inevitably say “Don’t die with your music still in you.” When I first began hearing him say this, I thought it was such a beautiful and poignant way to deliver his message.
But as the years rolled by, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable when I would hear him say it, until it got to the point where I hated hearing it! These eight words would haunt me for many years. Why did this saying bother me so much? Because I knew that I had a gift I wanted to give to the world, yet I wasn’t giving it, and I felt like the window of time was closing in on me.
Then after I turned 50 I came across a book written by a palliative nurse who recorded the most common regrets of the dying. She put her findings into a book called The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.
Below are the top 5 regrets of the dying:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
These top 5 regrets were really painful for me to digest. Here I was, over 50 and I still wasn’t even close to being on track toward being true to myself in living my highest calling.
Although this book sent me into an emotional tailspin, it was the perfect catalyst for me to wake up, smell the coffee, and get my priorities straight. I got really clear after reading the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying that there was no way I was willing to go to my deathbed without being true to myself with my calling.
I used to try to rationalize with myself why I shouldn’t pursue my soul’s calling and just be satisfied with the life I had. I would say things like, “Mary, you’ve achieved some major wins in your life. You’ve helped a lot of clients create more successful businesses through the coaching you’ve done as well as through the successful businesses you’ve launched. Plus you’ve generated a pretty nice income and lifestyle along the way as well.”
I was also really proud of the fact that I had created a lot of free time and space in my life by being very selective about where I spent my time on a business and a personal level. In addition I had a lot of self-care practices in place and I also loved finding ways to work smart vs. hard.
I had also been able to put away some retirement money and some savings as well. So part of me thought, “Ok, you’re over 50 now, you’re less than 10 years away from being able to collect social security. Why not just be satisfied with your life? Why take the risk of a new career, or another project at this stage in your life?”
But when I got honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t being true to my soul’s calling. I knew there were a lot of people I wanted to help on a deeper emotional and spiritual level by sharing my story of how I had overcome some intense personal adversity throughout my childhood and in my adult life.
Although I had been attempting to present the image to the world that I had it all together by creating successful businesses, the truth was I had a very difficult childhood, and was still in the grip of healing many of the painful issues from it. I discovered that it was this unhealed pain that was keeping me from being true to myself and living my highest calling.
I was raised in a crazy alcoholic home with chronic tension, anger and unresolved conflict between my parents. I learned to sooth my anxiety with food. I started gaining weight when I was just six years old. I began being bullied at school beginning in 3rd grade since I was an overweight kid. I continued to gain weight throughout grade school and high school. I felt terrible shame about who I was since I couldn’t seem to control my eating or my weight. It was an extremely painful time for me.
My mom was raised in a devout Irish Catholic, dysfunctional family and was taught that to be a good, caring person you should put others needs before your own. Therefore, if you put your own needs first you would be considered selfish, and to be selfish meant that you were a bad person. Therefore, often when I would attempt to get my needs met, or put my needs first I was shamed for being a bad, selfish daughter. Of course I wanted to be loved and accepted by my Mom so I became extra “helpful” in being there for her and others needs since it was a way to be loved.
Over the course of many years of being told I was selfish and therefore a bad person when I did have needs, I of course believed it. Therefore, deep down I really believed I was a bad person whenever I asserted my needs and it ended up influencing how I made every decision and how I showed up in every relationship in my life.
Then when I was a teenager I realized I was attracted to my girlfriends instead of the boys at school. This was in the mid seventies. This was way before any gay characters were on TV, any gay rights, and derogatory jokes or comments about being gay were commonplace and acceptable. Therefore it was a much more difficult time to be gay. This added a new layer of shame of feeling like there was something bad and wrong with me and that I definitely didn’t belong.
To make matters even more challenging, I was raised Catholic and had attended Catholic grade school and was in Catholic high school at the time I discovered I was a lesbian. Therefore, according to the church I would certainly be going to hell for eternity if I was going to be true to myself as a lesbian. Therefore, I kept my sexuality a secret and didn’t tell a soul for many years fearing that if I was found out I would face certain judgement and be shunned from my family and friends.
Attempting to cope with the shame of feeling like a bad, selfish person, like I was weak and a failure for not being able to control my eating, and weight, and being condemned by the church and the overall culture for being attracted to girls instead of boys was an extremely painful and a very difficult time for me.
It’s no wonder that I was drawn to drinking and becoming a major party animal in my teens and early twenties. Drinking helped me relax, made me feel like I fit in, and helped me finally have some fun. It also worked even better at numbing the intense emotional pain I had been trying to keep at bay with food. However, after several years of partying it was rather obvious that if I kept going I would turn out just like my mom, who sadly never got sober. Therefore, I am so grateful I found the path of recovery when I was 27 years old.
However, my struggle with food, my body and my weight continued for many more years and up until I was in my early forties. Finally after a 35 year struggle with losing and gaining hundreds of pounds several times, and finding myself weighing over 300lbs one more time, I decided to have weight loss surgery.
Between the support of the surgery and the healing work I have done around emotional eating issues, I am so grateful to be maintaining a 160lb weight loss (going from a size 24 to a size 10) for over 15 years now. Plus, I feel a level of peace around food, weight and my body that I never dreamed possible.
Of course in order for all of the above transformations to take place I needed to do some major personal and spiritual healing work in every area of my life. Actually, having to face so much adversity so early in my life is what set me up to being so passionate about my personal and spiritual growth for the past 30 years.
Although I had overcome so much and experienced so much transformation, it wasn’t until the last five years that I uncovered a new layer of unhealed pain that I realized was holding me back from the true peace and fulfillment I had been searching for all along.
At this point I felt fine about being totally out about being a lesbian, however, I really struggled with fully “coming out” to people about my past struggles with addiction and my weight since I feared I would be judged for being weak or a “loser” for even having had addiction issues at all. I also still struggled with feeling guilty about being selfish unless I was putting others needs in front of my own.
Therefore, prior to this discovery, in order for me to feel ok about who I was, I was driven to be helpful, strong and successful since on a deeper level I still believed I was selfish, weak and a failure.
This unhealed shame of feeling selfish, weak and a failure kept me hustling for my worthiness by how I showed up in my work and in my relationships.
It all finally made sense why I had been so driven all my life to be a strong, successful entrepreneur, and why I felt the need to be such a generous, helpful friend and partner. It was all a way for me to make sure I was never perceived by others, the way I still felt about myself… as a bad, selfish person, and as weak and a failure.
It also made sense why I was so reluctant to share the gift of my story of recovery and transformation on a broader level for many, many years….If I did so, I would expose the part of me that still felt like a bad, selfish person, and as weak and a failure. To expose this part of myself would surely trigger the most painful emotion there is….Shame.
Even though I hadn’t had a drink for over 15 years and had been maintaining 160lb weight loss for 15 years, and I knew sharing my journey of transformation could help a lot of people, I was too ashamed to publicly come out and tell people about it since I still thought there was something inherently weak, or wrong with me to have had these problems in the first place.
Becoming aware of this unhealed shame required I do some major healing work on healing my relationship with myself.
I discovered that to heal this shame I needed to do some intense work on cultivating self-compassion, self-forgiveness and total self-acceptance.
When I was able to step back from judging myself about being weak-willed and a failure for my addiction issues and was able to look through the eyes of self-compassion, I was able to see that as a frightened little girl I had very limited resources to take care of the intense, overwhelming emotional pain I was in due to being raised with the chronic emotional violence living with a raging alcoholic Mom.
My Dad used food as well to soothe his emotions, so it made total sense that I would choose food to soothe mine. My Dad had struggled with food and his weight for years and came from a family of dieters. In fact his Dad, my grandfather had weighed over 300lbs most of his adult life and died of a heart attack at just 59 years old. My Dad would lose and gain 20-30lbs throughout my childhood. His attitude toward weight control was it was all about having willpower.
He felt the same way about people who had drinking problems. In fact he used to say to me (after I was sober) that he didn’t believe in the disease concept of alcoholism. He believed alcoholics were just weak-willed drunks. He felt the same way about people that couldn’t control their weight. They were simply weak, and therefore losers. Therefore, it now made total sense why I believed I was weak-willed, since in my mind I believed I had “failed” at gaining control over my weight or alcohol on my own. This is was what my Dad had actually programmed me to believe about myself from the time I was a very young, innocent child. I also realized that the overall culture that we live in had also put unrealistic pressure on us all (especially men) to be “strong”, and has such contempt for those who struggle or are considered “weak”, and how this also contributed to the shame I had about my struggle with addiction.
With self-compassion, I realized that any child faced with that level of ongoing emotional pain would find a way to soothe themselves too, and would likely choose what was being modeled by their parents or whatever they could gain access to. In the same vein I was also able to have compassion for myself for choosing to medicate with alcohol, recognizing that I was simply trying to take care of some intense emotional pain the only way I knew how.
After several years of really digging into and processing these wounds and finding compassion, forgiveness and ultimately self-acceptance I came to realize that I was never a weak-willed, failure. I came to understand that I was using the resources I had with the level of consciousness that I had at the time to soothe the extreme emotional pain I was in due to being exposed to extreme emotional violence on a regular basis for a very long time. Once I gained the awareness of what was going on for me and developed the skills and got the support I needed to resolve this pain I stopped these destructive behaviors.
I was also able to see that my Mom had transferred her own shame of feeling like a selfish, bad person onto me since that was how she was also raised, (in her devout Catholic, dysfunctional family) to feel like a bad selfish person when she would put her needs first.
Therefore, I came to the realization that my simply having needs, and making them known to my Mom never made me a selfish, bad person to begin with. It was a lie. It was the same lie that was told to me that was told to my Mom, that had been passed on for many, many generations.
Over the course of several years through a compassionate, loving process and a lot of support I realized that as an innocent child I was mistakenly programmed to believe I was selfish and therefore a bad person through my Mom, the Catholic church and the culture I was raised in. Finally I was able to let that lie go and unconditionally accept myself “as is”.
It wasn’t until I learned how to develop deep compassion for myself, and how to forgive and accept myself “as is”, that I was finally able to let go of being dependent on others approval in order to be ok with myself.
This was a HUGE breakthrough!
Once I had found true self acceptance, I remember feeling more liberated than I had ever felt. It felt so good to finally not care what others thought of me. It was like a true miracle! I was finally free to be myself, and really be ok in my own skin for the first time!
So much energy opened up for me! It was truly amazing to feel this good about just being me. I could say no to requests to help others and not feel guilty! I could share about my past history of addiction or being extremely overweight and my weight loss surgery and not feel shame. Instead of wondering if I would be accepted after I would share something vulnerable, I would be at peace knowing that if someone is not ok with who I am or with what I have shared, it has nothing to do with me and I could easily let it go and/or also choose to let them go. It was truly amazing!
Just to be clear, I am not saying that I never get triggered by others negative opinions of me. I am human and just like anyone else I can get triggered from time to time. However, what I can say is that the frequency of it happening is about 95% less than it used to be! For this I am truly grateful, and must say that doing my inner work on self-acceptance has been SO worth it!
I remember when I used to work with individual coaching clients several years ago, the types of clients I would typically work with were business owners that wanted help with marketing or growing their businesses. Although I was very good at it, the more I grew and evolved the more it became clear that just helping clients grow their businesses was not my passion.
I realized that my passion is really about supporting my clients to transform their relationship with themselves first. When we transform who we are being with ourselves first, the inner transformation naturally allows and attracts the perfect business, career and clientele since we have become aligned with our authentic self.
The ironic thing about this clarity is that it is much easier to transform or grow a career or business when a person has done their inner work and they are aligned with their higher calling. It is because once we have found alignment with who we really are, and we get to the place of total self-acceptance, the universe and people meant to work with us naturally respond to our authentic alignment.
Of course it sounds so easy when you put it this way. Just accept yourself and find your calling! However, if you live on this planet and in this culture, being able to forgive yourself, find total self-acceptance and your higher calling is one of the most difficult journeys I believe we will ever go through. Yet, being on the other side of it is SO liberating and SO worth it.
At this point on my journey the only thing I knew for sure about my calling was that I wanted to help people transform their lives by being true to themselves and by living their purpose, or their highest calling. The problem was, I couldn’t seem to get clear on how I wanted this calling to look in terms of a career. I would keep trying to figure out whether I should get into teaching classes, lead groups, work with individual clients, write a book, offer information products, be a speaker, etc. If I would get a little closer on what I wanted it to look like, I would then get stuck on who my market was, or if I could make the money I needed to make doing it.
The way I had previously approached new projects was to do a ton of research on similar types of services or products so I would have the best chance of success by implementing strategies that had a proven track record. Therefore, I was approaching finding and living my highest calling in the same way. However, this approach wasn’t working. I felt so frustrated for so long, and feared I may never share my gift with the world.
I stayed stuck in not knowing “how” for many years.
I finally realized that if I could have launched my souls calling on my own, I would have done it by now. Therefore it was obvious I couldn’t do it on my own and I knew I needed help.
Once I got clear that I needed to hire someone to support me, I would start hearing myself say things like… …”Do you really think it’s a good idea to be spending money on your calling when you are so close to retirement? This is money you should keep in your savings account or have it earmarked for retirement.”
However, the pain of not being true to myself around living my highest calling got so bad that it felt like my soul was dying. It became clear to me that when I wasn’t being true to myself by following my soul’s calling, the internal pain would get so bad that I would try to numb my pain by getting back into old unhealthy eating patterns, or other numbing activities like watching mindless TV, surfing the internet, or scrolling through Facebook. It felt like a little part of me was dying every time I wasn’t being true to my calling.
Finally the day came when the pain got so bad that I was willing to take whatever steps I needed to take to invest in me by investing in the support I needed to make it happen. I realized that I would rather invest my money on developing my ability to be true to myself and going for my dreams, vs. staying safe and secure in a life without the meaning and purpose that I knew I needed.
Also, I couldn’t even imagine how awful it would feel to be on my deathbed, knowing that I would die without being true to myself and with leaving my music still in me.
Therefore, I finally took the leap and I invested in living my highest calling by investing in hiring the support I needed. It has taken several years, and a willingness to let go of my old approach of needing to know the “what”, the “how”, or “will it make money” in advance, and truly getting ok with “not knowing” and leaping anyway.
However, it has all been SO worth it, since I am now totally clear, on track and can finally say that I am living my highest calling!
I am 100% authentic in my work, my relationships and in every area of my life. It truly is the best feeling in the world knowing that I can make the difference I know I am meant to make in the world, while having a total blast doing it!
In fact, if I hadn’t taken this leap, you wouldn’t even be reading this blog, or be hearing about my transformational talk show, Mary Giuliani LIVE, or that I am working with individual coaching clients, or even be on this website, because none of this would even exist if I hadn’t taken this leap.
If I hadn’t taken this leap to get the support I needed, I would have ended up settling by staying in my old business or gotten into another business or project that was safe, but that had nothing to do with my calling.
When I took the leap of hiring the support I needed to live my highest calling, I didn’t even know that I would be launching a transformational talk show or that I would be getting back into individual coaching!
Before working with a coach, I didn’t have access to dreaming this level of a dream for myself! On my own, I would have either given up, or would have sold myself short to the security of a safe, secure income!
Through the process I got clear that I wanted to launch a transformational talk show since there is nothing I love more than being in the conversation of transformation.
I also got clear that I wanted to start working with just a few individual coaching clients again. But not just any client, but a very specific type of client. I discovered that my perfect clients are women who are in a similar place I was in before manifesting living my highest calling.
My perfect clients have a burning desire to live their soul’s calling, but are feeling stuck in the following ways:
- Gaining clarity on what the specifics of their calling is
- How to develop their unique message
- How to monetize their message
- How to market their message to reach millions
- How to do it in a way that creates a lifestyle where there will enjoy plenty of free time, income and true fulfillment
Now that I have been through the process of discovering and living my highest calling, I now know exactly how to support my clients in living their highest calling as well.
Plus I love that I get to also combine using my 25 year background in launching successful businesses and my 20 year background in online marketing, and now in live streaming to help my clients create a business they love, making the difference they want to make, while honoring living a balanced life with plenty of time, money and fulfillment!
I decided to keep my individual coaching practice down to working with just 3 clients at a time. This will allow me to provide the most hands on support, by being there for clients in their day-to-day lives, so they will have the support from me they need to truly transform and blossom into living their highest calling. It will also give me the freedom and the space I need to be the best version of me, which means I will be able to contribute that much more to my clients and to the world.
I also love that I discovered a way to be doing what I love the most which is being in the conversation of transformation by interviewing transformational thought leaders on my new transformational talk show Mary Giuliani LIVE. I love talking with them about their latest work, and I also love that I have designed the show to where we talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of their journey. Hearing other people’s story’s of overcoming adversity and going on to create lives they love is what has helped me the most on my journey to be able to transform my life. Also, just knowing that we are not alone no matter where we are on our path is so key in helping people realize that we all have pain, struggle and tragedy, yet we can choose to learn from adversity and make it our greatest teacher when we see others doing so.
What I also love about how I have set up my show is that my viewers can get FREE support by joining in the conversation by asking questions of my guests and me in real-time. Simply go to my website MaryGiuliani/WatchLive and type in your questions into the chat area right below the live stream. My guests and I can then respond in real-time during the show!
All I can say is that after the crazy life that I have had, with all the adversity I have overcome and all the transformation I have experienced, if I could figure out how to finally create a life I love, by living my highest calling, I believe with the right, consistent support anyone can!
Thanks for reading my story, and here’s to creating a life you truly love by living your highest calling!
Mary : )
P.S. For a weekly dose of inspiration to stay on track to being true to yourself and to live your highest calling, get free advice from my guests and me in real-time, and connect with other like-minded viewers via live chat, I invite you to join me, my guests & join in the conversation with my tribe every Wednesday night at 7pm PST for my transformational talk show Mary Giuliani LIVE. For recordings of previous shows in both audio or video formats visit my talk show archives.
P.S.S. For more one-on-one coaching support to live your highest calling, take a look to see if I am accepting clients at this time by checking out my individual coaching program. I provide access for clients to get daily coaching support from me to breakthrough the obstacles that have held them back from being true to themselves, gain clarity on their calling and gain traction on finally creating a life they love while making the difference they know they are called to make in the world.