This post was written by Barbara Eisele, a Newfield graduate of the Coaching for Personal & Professional Mastery program.

I was the Energizer Bunny that suddenly got unplugged.

I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called myasthenia gravis and with a tumor on my thymus gland. Months before the diagnosis, I was already very sick. The disorder affects the muscles and I couldn’t swallow food, my hands were too weak to hold a fork or type, and I was sleeping twice a day.

This was not me. Just five years before that diagnosis, at 67, I had done the Tour de Tucson and rode 114 miles in one day. Now, I could barely lift my head let alone think of getting on a bike.

After surgery on the tumor and treatment for my disease, I’ve improved. But the image I have of myself and the desire I have inside doesn’t match the external reality of what is possible. I want to go out on my bike and ride, but then, I look at my hands and say “Are these going to work the breaks?”

Learning to Surrender

What I learned from what I went through was how to surrender—to life, to the unknown. I experience a resistance to the unknown. I fear of loss and not getting what I want. I think I can control and manipulate everything and make it turn out the way I want, but life often has other plans for me. And, experience tells me that I am not the only one with these fears. I believe this may be a shared experience for many of us.

My disease left me with no choice but to surrender, at least physically. But, mentally and emotionally, it is was much more difficult for me to let go. High energizer bunnies (who are also control freaks) are not necessarily your surrender experts!

For me, letting go was about trusting in the Universe. I don’t know what the future holds, but I have experienced the powerful ways in which the Universe conspires to help us. While it may lead us down unexpected paths, it also shines a light on them.

Letting go was also about reconnecting with gratitude and community. In the west, I have often seen helplessness or inability trigger shame because we are used to believing that we should be independent and self-sufficient. I felt shame in not being able to feed myself. To shift away from shame, I have found gratitude for what we do have, here and now, and for the people that support us when everything else is falling apart to be essential.

The biggest surrender for me, and for many people I coach, is letting go of identity. I’m action-focused, active, and full of energy! But with fatigue and limitations…who am I?

How to Recreate Your Sense of Self

I had to go through the same process I guide my clients through: to see that our outer trappings of identity are exactly that, they trap us into thinking we are a certain way. Because realizing this is such an important part of transformation in any situation we face in life, I want to share some questions. My hope is that these questions generate some deeper reflection, expand your perception, and ultimately, bring some freedom to how you perceive and experience yourself.

  1. How do you see yourself? What are your preferences, places you feel trapped, and the stories that got you there? This is a huge part of self-development—starting to become aware of all that is inside you that you perhaps don’t look at.
  2. What do you value? What is truly important to you? The answers to these questions may have nothing to do with where you are now, but they do have to do with your heart’s yearnings.
  3. Ask yourself: What practices can I take on that align with what really matters to me? What would I have to do on a day-to-day basis to get there? How would this show up in my relationship with my children, husband, colleagues, etc.?

As you begin to answer these questions, you will see that there are other options to “you.” You can recreate your sense of self.

I am grateful to have gone through this process with the support of friends and peer coaches. I now find myself settling into my new identity and wanting to expand, grow, and evolve it…to use it to create purpose in the world.

If you want to learn more about surrendering and letting go and take away some helpful practices, then join us for one of our upcoming programs here.

About the Author: 

Barbara Eisele’s work as a personal coach is one of the authentic passions of her life. Her purpose is to help women get in touch with the yearning of their inner being and to end the “gerbil wheel” of frustration, dissatisfaction, loneliness, uncertainty and fear. She helps women discover what’s really important to them, recognize the authentic desires they have for their life, experience the fire that burns in their soul and walk as their partner to gain feeling of confidence, freedom of choice and empowered to take action in their life. Following the yearning she had to help women be empowered to move beyond their limiting beliefs and step into their full power and potential, she left behind the counseling profession. After finishing her Master of Counseling degree in 1996, she discovered Transformational work. Barbara spent more than 3 years coaching people working to build businesses and to be more effective in organizations. In 2001, she started her own coaching business.

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