The Backpack of Holes

There are things that happen in our lives which we don’t have control over. Unfortunately loved ones die, miscarriages do happen, people are bullied, restructures and redundancy, parents get sick… These (and many other) events tend to be very impactful and they create wounds inside of us.

Think of it like a backpack with holes in it. The holes are the wounds. Through personal development you can heal some wounds completely, reducing the number of holes in the backpack. And others you can reduce in size and severity, and learn to walk through life with them.

Think of an event that happened in your life which was impactful, and give it a number between 0-10 for emotional charge. What score did you give it? Did your event score above a 2-3? If yes, then there’s an opportunity here to clear that emotional charge, reduce the size, or even heal the wound, and lighten the load in your backpack. Giving you relief, space, and freedom.

However, the vast majority of what we suffer over (approximately 80%) is actually self-inflicted.  A bold statement, I know. The suffering happens in our own minds. We ruminate on decisions that have already been made, churn them over and over again in our brains. We worry about the what ifs in life to the point of them being a catastrophe. We worry in the moment about how we are being perceived, what will people think, how we should behave or adjust our behaviours to fit in, excel, or avoid. Actually, making us not present in the moment at all.

We do all of this to ourselves, each one of those worries is like adding a new hole and weight to your backpack. Soon, if you are not careful, the backpack is so heavy and full of holes, the contents start to leak and fall out. The equivalent of not feeling resourced or feeling capable enough to handle life’s opportunities and challenges fully. Life becomes very serious, and we pull away from people as a protection mechanism.

The Growth Spiral

The thing about personal development is that it’s not a linear process, it’s a spiral which should spiral upwards with every rotation. First, we build awareness of the problem. Once identified, you can release it, and then experience growth.

Awareness – Release – Growth

But what happens if your coach is only helping you build awareness of your self-inflicted wounds? Each session you go and talk about a challenge, build awareness, release it and grow. Only to find that the next week you experience more of the same. A fresh set of self-inflicted holes have appeared for you to work on. So, are you really growing? In some respects, yes, but you could be busy for life working at the same continuous level of the spiral, never consolidating and moving upwards to a new level of awareness.

And then there will be a time when you are ready to face, whatever you need to face, once and for all in order to grow. You find a coach who has the tools to actually help you work with the original wounds that kick started the pattern of self-inflicted problems. They hold such a safe space; the subconscious relaxes and brings the real challenges to the surface to be dealt with. A bit like peeling off layers of an onion to get to the very core of who you are.

Because it doesn’t matter how many non-confrontational conversation templates a coach gives you to manage or handle people you experience as destabilising, aggressive, or controlling. Those situations will keep replaying out time and again unless you get to the core of why you are experiencing those people as destabilising, aggressive, or controlling, release that, grow and spiral upwards from it. There’s a big difference, right?

When you do experience a full spiral, it will feel like you are standing in a completely different place than you were before. Your whole world shifts and changes in front of your very eyes.

So, if you are currently inflicting a lot of holes on yourself, you have two real choices. Either accept the situation as it is, or do something about it and change it. Don’t make it a new hole.

And if you really do want to experience a full spiral of growth and work on the real problem. That’s the work that I find to be an absolute privilege. Do book a 45-minute consultation call to discuss your current situation, get to the core of the pattern, and discuss next steps in your growth journey.

Keep Opening Up,


PS Catch the latest episode of the Women in STEM Career & Confidence Podcast iTunes / Spotify 🎧 with Dr Mihaela Taranu.

Dr Mihaela Taranu, is a psychologist specialising in metacognitive therapy and a postdoc at Aarhus University Denmark. We talk about how making a shift in your career also changes your identity. The more we cling to our old identity, the more we will ignore evidence it is not a match for us. This is why taking the next step in your career is an emotional journey as much as a practical one. Mihaela talks about her favourite part of the Career Design Mastermind programme. Aligning your purpose-mission-vision to understand your next career pivot. We also bring distinction to the Inner Critic and how to have a more supportive internal narrative.