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sacral warrior...notes from the field

Are You Abusing Your ‘Substance’?


Give your substance where it can do most good.” ~Raymond Holliwell

First, let’s define ‘substance’.  Here’s how I define it: Your substance is your genius, services, talents, gifts, time, energy, insights and intuitions.  It’s your advice, feedback, and for better or worse, your opinions. 

Substance abuse can be subtle or totally obvious.  An obvious example is giving people unsolicited feedback or advice that they clearly don’t want or care about.  Another one is trying to please all people all the time, or even half the people all the time!

We’ve all been the recipient of unwanted opinions and or advice, and probably even the recipient of other people’s anger or resentment if we don’t take their advice!  And, if we are being totally honest with ourselves, we’ve probably been on the giving end of that advice too (with or without resentment!).  There are more subtle ways ‘substance abuse’ shows up as well, and that’s what I want to talk about today because I see it over and over again in my work with clients and stories from colleagues, and even in myself.

As I said above, time is one of the components of our substance.  Time is the only thing we have equal measure of relative to everyone else, and it is the least expensive commodity, (as far as capital investments in our business goes), with the greatest amount of return.  That is, provided we invest our time wisely.

I learned this one the hard way.  As embarrassing as this is to share, it was such a turning point for me, that I share it because it really had to get this bad for me to see exactly what I was valuing, and what my time is worth to me.  I think for women this is especially hard, but I do know some men who have struggled with this as well.  We have such an ingrained message from a young age: “Tis better to give than receive” and in marketing “you have to give to get” and YES both are true.  And I do enjoy giving as part of growing my business.  But there are two factors which can trip us up: Giving without thinking of the value and how it will be best received and our attachment to the outcome. Both block results, for others and for ourselves.

The example below relates to the first factor: Giving without thinking of the value and how it will be best received.  I was reminded that people value what they pay for, just as I have valued the lessons the most when I have made an investment myself. I hope this example will help you see where you may be giving your substance away and just how valuable your time and substance is as well.

I decided to offer a free energy session, a diagnostic session which I had done face to face, but not over the phone in this specific way.  I wanted to gain practice and experience doing it over the phone, and although it was something that I do in my office and get paid for, for some reason I felt compelled to offer it for free this time.  I had someone in another country enthusiastically take me up on the offer, and I set out preparing to serve her as I would any paying customer.

I spent about 40 minutes preparing for our call, including scheduling, emailing her with questions and doing an energetic assessment beforehand.  I had the hit to set up the call on a free or low-cost teleconference number I use, but it wasn’t until I was actually dialing the phone to call across the world that I had that hit.  It was strong, but I ignored it.  At the time of this call my hourly rate was $200.  I spent 90 minutes in direct and indirect service to this woman, which I didn’t consider as I was setting the whole appointment up. In my excitement, I just acted without any real consideration of the amount of time, or value of the service I was offering.  Positive emotions can trip us up as easily as negative emotions do!

That “free” call was a $300 value for this woman (strictly speaking of time).  And, it was a $300 “cost” to me.  That is not where this story ends though.  Two days later, I received a text message from my phone carrier that said I had accumulated over $100 in International charges on my account!  Holy #$*@!  When I contacted my carrier I found out that the total charge for that call was actually $178.00.  Double Holy #$*@!!!!

Did I go through the roof on that one!  I was so mad at myself I could hardly believe it.  Seriously, it took me 45 minutes to calm myself down and reframe the whole situation. I missed a group coaching call with one of my coaches because of this upset.  I couldn’t focus.  Why was I so upset?  It wasn’t just the money, or the time spent – that was the least of my concerns, despite the sting of embarrassment, and the pain of having to pay that bill (which I later got reduced!).

The biggest pain was that I had completely gone against my own commitment to honor my substance and give it where it would do the most good.

I knew when I hung up, that woman, (despite the fact that she said she felt lighter and better than when she had felt at the beginning of the call, and that my diagnosis was on target) would never do anything further with it.  Why?  Because she had invested nothing but her time.  She had no “skin” in the game, if you will. Ugh. The total value/cost of that lesson: $678.00, including an hour of coaching with my coach, and the time I spent cleaning it up with my phone carrier.

Please get this: this story has NOTHING to do with that woman on the other end of the line.  She did nothing wrong, and is a perfectly delightful person.  What she decides to do with this information and experience is up to her.

Was this whole experience a waste for me?  Yes, and No.  It has the potential to be a waste if I allow myself to do it again.  Did I learn something really valuable?  You bet.  Adversity and challenges happen.  Misalignment with our goals and intentions happens. People value what they pay for, and they get better results as well. The suffering comes when we don’t recover quickly and learn from our “temporary defeats.”  It took me 45-minutes to recover from that one.  That is not long in the big picture of things.  I also got a huge boost of confidence in myself, what I offer and how I value my time.  I started taking myself more seriously.

I have a very big vision for my business, as many of you do, I’m sure.  One of my coaches told me that as she’s gotten more busy and more successful she’s really had to be more discerning with her time and energy and where she spends both.  Clearer boundaries, while they haven’t always been pleasant to set or enforce, have made a huge difference in her ability to function and serve at a high level consistently.  Yep.  I totally get that.

Your turn.  Where have you been devaluing yourself and your time?  Where have you been making your lessons a lot harder than they need be?

Are you so distracted right now by the story I just told and all the judgements you have about me that you can’t even answer this question?  If so, good!  Now you are one step closer to owning your own crap.  Because I can tell you this, if you are judging me, it is wholly because you have not yet owned your own bad judgements and miscalculations around your time, value, and fees you charge for your substance.  Begin owning that, and you will be free.  Free from the judgement, and free from the need to justify or devalue yourself, or any of the other ways the habit of abusing your substance shows up for you.  Hopefully it won’t cost you as much as it cost me…

What did this article bring up for you?  I’d love to know!  Please share below…

From My Heart to Yours,



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