Episode #73: What If You Were Born a Badass?
What if YOU were born a badass? I think we arrived here with the capacity to be total badasses. And then the world gets a hold of us. So for many, the journey back to self and soul is a journey of unlearning, of unbecoming, of ceasing to resist. It’s the gooey middle of the caterpillar’s transmutation into a butterfly. We keep dissolving and peeling back the layers until we come to the root of our being. A part of ourselves long since forgotten. The part of us that is unfettered by who the world told us we had to be in order to survive and be deemed acceptable and worthy. The part of us that is still connected to source if only by a single glimmering thread. For more on the journey back to ourselves (and our own inner badass) listen in.
Welcome to the Freedom from Empty Podcast: Building Strong, Effective, Resilient Leaders and Humans. My name is Booth Andrews, and I am your host. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode.
September’s Well-Being Challenge just wrapped up! I loved hearing from participants about how the practices they needed seemed to show at just the right time! If you missed out on the challenge, you can sign up for the waitlist at boothandrews.com/wellbeingchallenge. You will be among the first to know when the Well-Being Challenge becomes available again!
I remember talking to my dear friend Michelle Waymire of Young & Scrappy several years ago. The Booth Andrews Company was still a glimmer of light in my imagination as I was trying to piece together how I might use my personal crash and burn and ultimate foray into the depths of severe mental illness to help other people.
As I pitched my idea for a business to other business people, I kept running into a similar refrain of feedback. . . something along the lines of . . . would I be putting together a Board of Advisors who were experts in mental health as part of my business model?
I was grappling with trying to decide if I needed “more credibility” when Michelle said something along the lines of . . . “You have an f’ing PhD in this Booth. You are LIVING it.”
I am not a medical professional and I do not claim to have the same experience or credentials. But I am also acutely aware how I was being advised more than once to look outside of myself for credibility if I wanted to build a business in the mental health and burnout space.
I cannot recall if it was in the same conversation, but Michelle was one of the first people to look me in the eyes . . . the eyes of someone whose confidence had been shattered in totality by my experience . . . and called me a badass.
At the time, I didn’t see myself as a badass. I was someone who had gone from thinking I was literally ten feet tall and bulletproof, an actual superhero, to someone who was no longer able to trust myself (or so I thought) and had no remaining barometer for what I was or wasn’t capable of. My “success” meter had been obliterated into thousands of shards, and at the time, I didn’t know what was left. Of me. Of anything.
A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter gave me a simple bracelet for Mother’s Day. One word on a small copper plate held on my wrist by aqua thread. The word? “Badass.”
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was preparing to facilitate the opening of the Maker City Summit here in Knoxville. The title of the session? Find Your Inner Badass.
I did a quick Google search to see what else might be out there on the subject. What is the definition of badass anyway? Are there others out there writing and sharing about how one might find their inner badass? I remember coming across Jen Sincero’s book You Are A Badass back in the depths of my undoing in 2015.
As might be expected, I did find some articles talking about being a badass or acting like a badass. But they weren’t what I was looking for.
I am not interested in performative badass behavior.
Then, I found an article on LinkedIn written by Julie Cortes and she describes badassery like this:
It is mindset, attitude, sheer authenticity
It is speaking your truth, even when your voice shakes
It is overcoming adversity
It showing up, doing the work, and fulfilling promises made
It is sticking to your own purpose, dreams and the path you created
It is removing anything or anyone toxic from your life that threatens your peace
It is setting boundaries and enforcing them when (other) people cross them
It is living by your own code, not worrying what others think
It is determination, perseverance, and resilience
It is strength, confidence, and earned respect
THIS is the type of badass I aspire to be. And I think we all have this type of badass inside of us. Let me explain.
There is a theme emerging as I interview guests for this podcast. The theme?
Unbecoming. Unlearning. Shedding the world’s definitions and expectations and conditioning and moving into deeper alignment with a truer version of self.
One who dares to ask . . . what is FOR me and what isn’t for me? And then takes steps toward that which is FOR them; releasing those things that aren’t for them no matter how venerated they might be.
And there is another theme that has hooked me deep in my soul I presume because the truth that lies within it is functionally expanding within me as I walk this path . . .
The thread of the story isn’t unlike what you might find in a religious setting, but I am presenting it today unmoored and unmired in theology:
Our soul arrives on this earth with a clear connection to the divine energy that is called by many names but that I call the Universe.
As we walk this path of humanity, through conditioning of all manner and media, we become more and more disconnected from the person we were designed to be and the soul that knows that the Universe is in us as much as it is separate from us.
We forget that we have access to this divine spark inside ourselves.
Indeed, some of us have been taught that this divine spark only exists outside of us and can only be accessed through others.
The further we stray from our soul’s essence, the sicker our body and mind become.
We become hopeless wanderers and consumers of anything that the world presents that might make us feel better (albeit only temporarily if at all).
We march to the beat of the drum we grew up with: the messages about do’s and don’ts, and cans and can’ts, and shoulds and shouldn’ts. We shut down the parts of ourselves that are not safe or valued or “okay” in the eyes of our caregivers and the world and we channel all of our energy and worth into the parts that are rewarded and applauded (or at least give us the best chance of survival).
And when we have ignored the messages of our true selves long enough, we may forget that parts of us even exist. We don’t remember who we were before someone else told us who we could or should be. We cannot access the parts of us that were deemed unsafe or unsavory. It isn’t that we are knowingly living a lie, it is that we are so deeply fragmented we don’t even realize what is happening. Until we start to get sick.
The parts of myself that I showed to the world before my crash and burn and years that I spent buried in burnout and trauma induced mental illness were, in fact, very much aligned with who I am. I know this to be true now--even though I was not sure in the depths and darkness of my transformation--because I am still that person on the other side . . . on the other side of my near-death experience, my dark night of the soul.
But there were other parts of me that I never showed the world. Parts of me that screamed to be heard and seen and validated. There were times I became aware of my desperation, but I believed there wasn’t anything that could be done about it, so I just shoved it back down and kept going. Other parts of me were locked so deeply into my psyche and my body that it has taken years to unearth them and reintegrate them into the fabric of my being.
Often there is a seismic event or a series of events that invites us to strip away our beliefs, assumptions, conditioning and to give ourselves permission to question everything.
These invitations come in different packages, but often in that package is something that shakes us to our core: illness, death, betrayal, financial ruin, and so on.
For me, it was the complete degradation and destruction of everything I thought I knew and could rely on.
I cannot tell you what the invitation will look like for you. I have wondered and hoped that maybe some of us are invited to go deeper more gently than I was.
But I have also wondered how much my own persist or die mentality fueled my path . . . perhaps if I had known that I could surrender sooner, I wouldn’t have had to be forced to my literal and figurative knees before I finally made the choice to let go.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t deciding to die and then choosing to stay for my children, or the dissolution of my marriage, or the loss of the job that I loved that sent me into surrender. It was the unrelenting PTSD episode that followed all of these things . . . about 6 months into my daily dance with physiological terror, a thought rose up within me from deep within . . . “and the darkness said to me, I will not let you go until you stop trying to get away.”
When that happened, I didn’t realize I was still fighting.
But on some level I was. Even after everything, I was still moored to a variety of beliefs and assumptions about who I thought I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be capable of. Anything and everything that I had allowed to define me.
In this moment, I let it ALL go. And I mean all. And in this moment of complete surrender, my healing journey began in earnest.
The journey of transformation is a journey of unlearning, of unbecoming, of ceasing to resist.
It’s the gooey middle of the caterpillar’s transmutation into a butterfly.
We keep dissolving and peeling back the layers until we come to the root of our being. A part of ourselves long since forgotten.
The part of us that is unfettered by who the world told us we had to be in order to survive and be deemed acceptable and worthy.
The part of us that is still connected to source if only by a single glimmering thread.
In A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life, Parker Palmer makes the case for “integrity” as choosing to live divided no more.
I am still unearthing and integrating. Perhaps I always will be, as long as my soul is on this earth. I am committed to becoming an archeologist of self and soul.
I know for some of us, the idea of committing to the exploration of soul and the self might seem to sit on the edges (or even fly in the actual face) of what we may have been taught in our religious traditions or belief systems.
But I disagree with this perspective. Because I believe that our soul is the part of us that is not just of this world. And because I believe that when we dive more deeply into our true essence, we will find a reflection of and connection to the divine there.
This part of us, unadulterated by the world’s demands and traumas, is pure. Pure of heart. Pure of mind. And when we breathe and live into alignment with that part of our being, we will also show up in the world in alignment with the divine’s intent and purpose for us.
So that brings me back to the definition of a badass and my challenge to you because I think we need more embodied, soul-forward badasses in this world:
What if you showed up in the world with sheer authenticity
What if you spoke your truth, even when your voice shakes
What if you were confident in your ability to overcome adversity
What if you trusted yourself show up, do the work, and fulfill promises made (because you have carefully filtered which promises you make in the first place)
What if you stuck to your own purpose, dreams and the path you created (and resisted the world’s admonitions that you are supposed to fit the world’s definitions of beauty, worth and success)
What if you removed anything or anyone toxic from your life that threatens your peace (not shying away from constructive opportunities that could lead to deep healing but also not afraid to weed out the people and things from your life that are not in alignment with your soul)
What if you set boundaries and enforced them when people crossed them
What if you lived by your own code, not worrying what others think
What if you were determined, persistent and resilient
What if your strength and confidence came from a well deep within you and earned respect without even trying
What if you are a badass?
Maybe you don’t feel it right now. And if you don’t, I get it. I’ve been there.
But I think you arrived here with all of the capacity to show up in the world as I have just described.
Everything you need is inside of you.
I invite you to embark on the exploration.
And I will continue sending nudges, resources and programs your way to support you on your journey.
Thank you for listening today. Don’t forget to go to boothandrews.com/wellbeingchallenge to join the waitlist for the next thirty day well-being challenge whenever that launches.
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I look forward to being back with you next time!