where a woman can build her strength and freedom

How to not be a shadow of yourself

A picture of five wooden Christmas reindeer with their shadows reflecting on a wall to think how to not be a shadow of yourself in life.

Has anyone ever tried to get you to be someone you’re not?

Maybe take training or education in a field that isn’t you?

Take a job that pays well but isn’t aligned with your values?

Get serious with someone who is the social media image of a great catch?

(Like Reese Witherspoon does in Sweet Home Alabama before she wakes up)

If you have, you know that sinking feeling in your stomach…

“I don’t want to do this, but maybe I should…

And if you go ahead and do it,

you end up feeling like your own shadow.

Because YOU weren’t really there.

Your heart was never in it.

You let someone else live your life for you.

We have all done this at some point.

But none of us wants to ever do it again.

We don’t have to.

But let’s look at what that takes.

Are you game?

Let’s DO this!

A free and independent mind

My parents were independent thinkers.

They raised me to be one as well.

Our family had no money, but at 15 I was offered an all expense paid education

at Vassar College, a top ivy league school that was all girls then.

My mother, who had an MA from Vassar on an academic scholarship,

had a wealthy classmate friend who wanted very much to send me.

I had top grades, and in a few years would likely have been admitted.

I said no.

I had no desire to go to an all girls school. I was also aware that I was not going to be

emotionally ready for college when I graduated from high school.

I knew myself, acted decisively, and have never had a moment’s regret.

Later, at 26, after I had entered psychoanalysis and was married and had two young

children, I went to university and loved it.

It was the right time for me, and the right school.

Know thyself

So how do you know yourself enough to say no?

Well…I had spent a great deal of time in introspection. We didn’t have a TV 🙂

These days it’s hard to get to know yourself.

Most of your time may be spent checking up on what others are saying and doing…

and what they think of what you are saying and doing…

It’s a thumbs up or thumbs down world out there.

Judgment may be fun, but it doesn’t lead to self knowledge.

Actually, it leads to fear. Fear of being different. Being seen as uncool. Being rejected.

We end up putting a great deal of importance on how others judge

what we say, do, buy, wear, look like, decide to do…

IF we need their approval in order to do it.

Sooooooo, if you really want to get to know yourself well enough to say no,

you’ll need to make knowing your own independent self your first priority.

You’ll need to make your own self approval and self respect your highest standard.

What would that look like?

Your own values

Start by getting clear and strong on your values, so no one will ever be able to convince

you to sell out.

Ask yourself lots of questions about what YOU believe in

who YOU want to be

what YOU want to do

as you grow in your capability to contribute to the world.

Hopefully, search your soul deeply before you are faced with major life decisions.

Once you get clear on who you are, what you need, and what you want,

nobody will be able to sidetrack you.

Trust your gut

Trust your gut. Your gut knows.

That sinking feeling you get when you think of taking a certain path

is there to save you from drowning.

Be decisive

Stand tall.

Your decisions about your own life are your own.

If someone gets obnoxious and starts really pushing you,

just state your decision and say nothing more.

Don’t let anything they say bother you.

In sum

What does this all add up to?

Don’t take an empty shadow path.

It leads nowhere but to more emptiness.

To thine own self be true.

Proudly take care of yourself

and lead the life God gave you.


When did you make a tough decision that you know was the right one for you?

I’d love to hear!

Dr. Hall