Last week, I got diagnosed with ADHD (more on that in a future post), and I also taught a webinar about closing the bones, as well as a 2 day face to face closing the bones workshop.
It was the first time I taught this course in person for a couple of years. It gave me a lot of space for reflection. I reflected about how much I’ve grown, but mostly, about how much love and effort I put in everything I do, and how I wasn’t able to see this until now, because when things come to me easily, I tend to take them for granted.
If, like me, you tend to be blind to your gifts, and focus mostly on what you are not doing, I hope this post will be helpful. I’ll also suggest practical ways to change this.
This is different from impostor syndrome, something I have managed to tame over the years, but something I also know is common, because I saw it in the doulas I mentored over the year, and I see it in my students all the time.
Listening to an episode of the ADHD for Smart Ass Women, I learnt that people with ADHD tend to have an “angry neighbour” inner critic, as they cannot quite access the “friendly butler” voice of the prefrontal cortex. People with ADHD often also have rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is different from impostor syndrome. I plan to write something to disentangle the two in the future.
It is an ongoing practice for me, to undo years of pattern in my brain. It’s only since I’ve been consciously focusing on this that I have become aware of how much of a perfectionist I am, and how my inner voice is a harsh critic.
From 2016 to 2020, I taught at least a couple of workshops per month, travelling up and down the UK, and sometimes abroad. The pandemic and changing family circumstances led me to start offering my teaching as online courses (5 so far). Whilst I am delighted to have over 600 students from many different countries, and grateful for this as a source of income, there is something about teaching face to face and being in ceremonial space with like minded women that brings me unparalleled joy.
Because I hadn’t taught this workshop for a while, I finally got a full measure of how much effort I put into this work, and I decided to write about it.
Here’s the prep I did for the workshop:
- I rewrote the entire course handouts, to keep it up to date, and because I had recently reshot all of the course tutorial videos with a professional photographer. My handout is designed for students to have something to fall back on: a description, picture, and video tutorial of each of the techniques, as well as a description by an osteopath about what they do on the body. I have been to many trainings, including with people a lot more famous than me, and I have never come across anyone else who provides such a detailed handout.
- I printed all the handouts for my students, on premium paper, then placed each of them inside a folder.
- I rewrote my entire teaching plan (because I’ve learnt new things and I want to share them).
- I packed all my kit for teaching
- I’m someone who likes to bring ALL THE THINGS. I have always been. So when I pack for teaching (this was true ten years ago when I taught antenatal classes, or even when I taught free babywearing drop in clinics), it’s BIG. Packing takes the most part of a day before the workshop. It’s harder and more time consuming to do now as my ADHD brain (I didn’t get severe symptoms until I hit the perimenopause), finds it hard to organise things and gets sidetracked and overwhelmed (this video illustrates this issue very well).
- The teaching kit includes a lot of rebozos (some for practising, some for selling), some blankets a pelvis, altar items, a drum, a bluetooth speaker and essential oil diffuser, smudge and oils, some flowers for the altar, teas, coffee, and biscuits, and this time I also baked a groaning cake and make chia pudding and salad for the shared lunches.
- All in all, it took over a week of prep. And this isn’t counting the work to advertise and share the workshop., hiring the venue etc.
On the day of the workshop itself:
- I drove there really early (45 min before people were due to start arriving) because I like to set the room up and be ready before people arrive. (ADHDers can be time blind, and often late, but in my case, it’s the opposite: I’m always early as being late causes me anxiety).
- I set up the chairs, the mats, the altar, the rebozos. I made it all very pretty. I was grateful to have the help of a student who is also a friend to do this.
- I also set up the space energetically, both clearing and setting it up for being the right space to hold the teaching.
- I prepared the drinks and cakes etc in the kitchen (this type my friend Malwina did this and I was very grateful)
- This is what it looked like:
- Teaching closing the bones requires a lot of work, both in terms of time keeping (letting important discussion happen and encouraging sharing, whilst also keeping to the teaching plan). It also requires a lot of space holding as people often have big emotional releases during this work.
- I have over 10 years of experience teaching this, and I always refine it. I am very good at holding space safely whilst I do this. I also have training in teaching, and I know how to make sure my students leave the workshop feeling confident, and I make myself available to support them and answer questions etc. (Again this is something that is less common than you think-with a lot of people I have trained with, I have found it impossible to get support after the training had ended.). I even support students I trained years ago, including giving them free copies of my updated handout.
- I love it, it makes my soul sing and nourishes me to spend time sharing this and in ceremony with a group of women, but at the end of each day I crash, and then it takes me a couple of days of rest to recover.
- When the workshop is finished, I need to pack up. Fold all the mats and rebozos, put them back into bags, put back the chairs, wash and tidy up the kitchen, put everything back in the car. Here, even with the help of 3 students who stayed behind, it took about 45min to complete.
- Then I get home and near to wash all the rebozos and blankets (here I used about 30 of them!), and pack up my kit back where it belongs.
- Here is a picture of my packed kit after the workshop was finished, and also the boot of my car filled with kit (there was as much stuff on the back seats too-it barely fits in my car).
Working with business mentor George Kao I’ve learnt to write manuals that includes all the step when I create and do something, and my the manual for this workshop is very long and has hundreds of steps.
The feedback I get speaks for itself, as time and time again, I get people who are delighted about the training.
- “I loved the balance of information, the explanations with your pelvis model, hearing your real life experience and stories, all the thoughtful extras: the tea, cake, the drums, your care, the love you oooze is incredible”
- “The teaching was excellent: thorough, well organised, I felt safe, heard, understood. As a facilitator, Sophie is very professional, embodied and kind. I appreciated Sophie’s intuitive nature, and her combination of cognitive and intuitive approach”
- “Everything was amazing. A great balance of hands on and explanation”
But when you see me teach, the preparation work is invisible. And in some ways it is invisible to me too. Writing this blog has been quite enlightening in this regard.
So if you are, like me, blind to your gifts, here are some suggestions that might help.
- Write a Ta-Da list at the end of each week. Set a timer for 5 min and quickly write all the big tasks you’ve done that week. I write my wellbeing tasks, then family tasks, then work tasks. Every single time my mind is blown by the fact that I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve done, and have a feeling that I’ve not achieved much.
- Write a Hat Manual (something I learnt from George Kao) for each of your big work processes. If you wear many hats in your business, writing a manual for each “hat” (I have one for big things like creating webinars, or for creating and teaching courses) means that the next time you do it, you’ll have a recipe to follow and you won’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can then review and improve the process. It also let you look at all the steps you took to do something, which helps make you more aware of how much work you do.
- Keep a brag file. I use a word document, and I copy and paste into it every time someone gives me positive feedback. Read it from time to time.
- Find a way to look at what’s in your head. Journal, draw, reflect, talk to a kind friend or two. I took the Doodle your Emotions course last year and it works for me better than journaling. It allows me to become my own therapist.
- Ask for kind friends to witness what you do. It’s been transformative for me to become part of a community who loves me for who I am and reminds me that I am welcome to turn up at a gathering just by myself (and without a cake!). I also worked with a coach who showed me that being witness is a vital for me, otherwise I cannot see my gifts. Other people see strengths and gifts in you that you can often not see. I talk about this in my post The Kindness Boomerang.
I hope this helps, and if you resonate, please comment below. I’d love to hear about your experience.