Lesson Three - Donna W.

The Committee In My Head

Many people have rotated on and off my committee over the years – friends, teachers, colleagues, people I’ve admired, and especially people I’ve envied. The one person who always has had a seat at the table (let’s call her the chief executive officer) is my mother. While I know she loved me, she passed on some less-than-helpful ideas that continue to carom around inside my head like ping pong balls:

  • Your name means “lady,” so always act like one.
  • Good girls are seen but not heard.
  • The world is a dangerous place, so always be on guard.

I decided to write her a letter to tell her she was off my committee. But reading back over what I’d written, I felt a combination of fear and sadness. The fear came from realizing that without her calling the shots, the responsibility for looking after myself falls to me! It’s that whole “self-parenting” concept that is liberating but at the same time scary. The sadness came from knowing that while some of her messages were diminishing, many were very positive:

  • You are bright and talented.
  • You are creative.
  • You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

So for now, I’ve decided to demote her from CEO (it’s definitely time for me to be my own boss, scary or not) but I’ll let her stay on my committee. When I hear her negative messages, I’ll recognize them for what they are and dismiss them. But I’ll listen for the positive messages and work on amplifying them in my own voice.

Meanwhile, here are the people I’m definitely removing from my committee: former bosses who used bullying tactics to try to get me to fall in line; so-called friends who did not have my best interests at heart; the many people who I’ve allowed to intimidate me because I thought they were smarter/more talented/more popular/more WHATEVER than me. YOU ARE GONE!