Learn how coach and author Jane Hanford went through a deep personal journey to prove herself worthy. Jane now helps others live a life free from anxiety through her unique blend of neuro coaching and eastern wisdom.
Mine is a story about a life split between the outside and the inside. From the earliest age I can remember I felt ‘not good enough’. I felt deeply broken.
To survive and succeed I felt that I had to cover up this feeling and hide my inner fears. I was driven to study psychology to find my way to feel better, to fix myself. I studied all my life and it has been a long hard road.
My career journey
I entered a typical corporate career where I got by because of my psychological knowledge and clear-sightedness into how people think and what they want. This is valuable insight for technological companies. With the support of a coach I left a corporate career in 2010 and became an independent consultant running large research projects into consumer and employee needs and wants. Alongside this work I went back to university to study for a Masters degree and coached people who struggled with anxiety and confidence.
Rising from the feeling of not being good enough was a need to prove myself to be worthy. This manifested in an ambition to prove myself in a conventional sense by getting a good job and earning lots of money. So my ‘why’ was mainly compulsive driven by insecurity and a sense of lack.
Holding strong values
I always held onto strong values. When you feel lost and broken values become something to hold on to, to guide you and reassure you that you are doing ok. Now that I feel good about myself I want to share the valuable lessons that I have learnt so that others can overcome their anxiety.
I particularly want to help younger people so that they don’t have to spend their whole lives feeling unworthy, the feeling that saps life of its joy and meaning and deprives people from meeting their full potential.
My lowest point
When I was studying for my Masters degree in Coaching Psychology I got involved with a guy who turned out to be abusive. I had two children to support and protect. Up to this point I had managed OK to keep everything afloat even though I was struggling inside. Now I couldn’t cope. I was unable to work and the money started to run out. I couldn’t sleep for worrying and when a person I knew tried to take advantage of me I broke down. I was lucky that this happened when I was studying because I could get the recognition and support from the tutors, students and therapists I needed to get me back up and running again.
If my business hadn’t worked out, I would have…
It would have been easy for me to get a job in the corporate sector. But it would have been soul-destroying. The thought of 9-5 office work gives me the shudders.
Finding complete peace & happiness
Two years ago, when my youngest headed off to university, I packed up and headed to the coast with my partner to set up a new life. We adapted to our new life with such ease it was clearly right for us. Between us we have a wide variety of part time jobs that we enjoy.
I had time to reflect on my experiences and what I have learnt. Rather than a single moment this has been a period of healing and it is still going on. I realise that at last my mind is quiet, I feel at peace with who I am and I am finally happy. I am committed now to giving back, to sharing the lessons that life has taught me. I am painfully aware of the high levels of anxiety in our society these days and I know I can help.
Life is sweet. We took the pressure off by downsizing and reducing our outgoings, so we can take on jobs and activities that we love. One example of this is I am learning to play the harp. I have freedom to find new ways to help people. During lockdown I wrote a book called Happy Anyway to help people struggling with anxiety.
Coping with stress & overwhelm
For me a key benefit of lockdown was being able to access courses that would have otherwise been too far away to attend. I had always wanted to practice Samatha meditation and for the first time this went online. I now have a daily morning practice which makes a massive difference to my peace of mind.
I regularly go for long walks, sometimes listening to one of my ‘gurus’, sometimes listening to the birds, and I allow nature to clear my mind.
What makes a ‘Calmpreneur’?
When you overcome anxiety you release energy that would have been taken up by second-guessing and self-doubt. You stop feeling compelled to push yourself beyond your energy levels so you are able to work with full respect for your own needs. You find a pace and rhythm to your work that doesn’t deplete you. You find satisfaction in everything you accomplish so that it restores you. You are able to trust your own judgment in terms of what you do and how you do it.
When things go wrong of course you wobble, but by building your sense of self-worth, these times pass without drama. You accept that good times follow bad, and so it goes.
Advice for others
The most important piece of advice I have is to give yourself time. The temptation is to take on too much work because there is no sense of security in the future. Until you find the time to look after yourself and your mental state you will always feel insecure and lacking. Even if this doesn’t affect the quality of your work, it does rob you of quality of life.
Start a daily practice of mindfulness or meditation, no matter how short and simple, just keep it up. This will gradually build peace of mind, resilience and joy, which after all is what you are working for.