I grew up in a very logical, left-brained household. We weren’t woowoo, and even though I was a highly sensitive person, I shoved that side of me so far down I didn’t even know it existed.
This is why it didn’t make any sense that I had a strong intuitive pull to attend a nine-day immersive retreat led by Byron Katie in Los Angeles. This is why I was confused that I felt a strong desire to plunk down $4200 (plus airfare and eight days off work) when I’d never spent that much money on anything in my life, going against my decidedly deliberate, practical nature.
I didn’t even know who Byron Katie was a few months before that event!
All I knew was that I was being called to learn more.
At the time, I was working in a decent corporate job. I was an engineering manager at a high-tech company, and although the people were generally nice and the work environment was manageable, my soul felt like it was dying. I couldn’t imagine doing this work until I was ready to retire.
There was just one problem:
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I only knew I needed to figure it out, preferably sooner rather than later.
Looking for answers
My determination winning out over my practicality, I found myself sitting in a hotel conference room at LAX on a Friday night listening to Byron Katie talk. I was on a soul-searching journey, and this was one of my first stops.
I was a bundle of nerves. Literally shaking with fear and uncertainty. I kept thinking this was crazy, and I’d made a big mistake.
What the heck did I do? Why am I here? I don’t even know why I’m here. I don’t understand this. This doesn’t make any sense.
On and on my racing mind went.
But I sat my butt in the seat that first night, despite my internal freakout, and heard the words that would change everything.
Katie looked out at us and said:
“While you’re here, it’s really important to get what you came for. I don’t know why you’re here, and I don’t know what you came for. But it’s your job to get what you came for.”
The next day, I heard those same words again: Get what you came for.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… a refrain of “get what you came for” was repeated over and over many times each day.
The only problem?
I had no clue what I was doing there.
I just kept thinking how much money I had spent, fearful of getting to the end of the event feeling like I wasted my time, my money, and my vacation days. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than a feeling of deep regret.
The good news was, I kept asking myself why I was there, even when I didn’t know. I was committed to figuring it out.
A cry for help (tears included)
As the days ticked by and my confusion was still present, I was starting to panic about potential future regret—one of my biggest fears.
So on day seven of nine, terrified I’d leave without getting what I came for, I decided to ask for help.
I noticed some people would walk up to the stage and talk to Katie after the sessions. I’m really shy, so it took just about all the energy and courage I had to approach Katie.
Before I could even speak, I started crying.
Through tears, all I could manage to say was, “I need help.”
Katie just looked at me and said, “Oh, sweetheart, I hear you. Unfortunately, I need to go to a meeting right now.”
Oof. That was not the response I was hoping for. I was hoping she would have the answer or at least be able to point me in the right direction of why I was here and struggling so much.
She then said, “Sandra can help you.”
I walked over to Sandra and we began what turned into a five-hour conversation.
She helped me do The Work through some of the biggest stories of my life, resolving some long-held stories, emotions, traumas, and fears.
She was my guide, but I had to do the work.
As it turned out, asking for help was as big of a breakthrough as the long-held issues we worked through.
Showing up and taking responsibility
That week taught me something I needed to learn: I must show up for myself, even when I’m confused, frustrated, and uncertain about what I need.
When I took full ownership for my own experience, everything changed.
This wasn’t just true for being at Byron Katie’s School; it’s also true for life.
I must take full responsibility for my experiences, my responses, my thinking, my emotions, my actions, and my non-actions in every single moment. From big moments to little daily ones, it’s all on me.
I had to be the one that showed up.
You have to the one that shows up.
No coach, no mentor, no teacher, no parent, no spouse, no therapist, no doctor, no friend, no one but you can make you take personal responsibility for your life, your actions, and your results. @jennyshih (Click to Tweet!)
You have to invest emotion, energy, time, and even money sometimes—that’s what it takes to be successful and to get what you came for.
You have to show up and do the work. You can’t expect someone else to do the work for you. You can’t hide or expect someone else to read your mind.
It’s just not possible.
I didn’t realize that when I went to this retreat, lost and confused. I was looking outside myself for answers, hoping someone else could fill in the blanks.
And I can see where else I’ve done this in my life with coaches, teachers, mentors, family, doctors… everyone.
But it is not anyone else’s job to give me what I came for in this life, except mine.
People can’t help you if you don’t first help yourself.
Show up, ask for help, and get what you came for, even when it’s scary. Even when it makes you cry. Even when you’re afraid.
Get what you came for.
Jenny Shih is an uncompromising business coach who has taught more than 25,000 women how to earn a full-time income working 30 hours per week or less as online, service-based entrepreneurs. For most of her time in business, Jenny was debilitatingly sick and at some points was only able to work a few hours each week. As the household breadwinner, Jenny found strategic ways to ensure her business remained highly profitable while also giving her the much-needed time to heal. Drawing on both her decade of experience in high tech and her training with Martha Beck and spiritual teacher Byron Katie, Jenny guides her clients through a no-fluff, step-by-step approach to creating thriving businesses they love without having to work long hours or make huge sacrifices. Connect with Jenny on her website and on Facebook, and be sure to grab her Ultimate Business Bundle to help you build a profitable business on your own terms.
Image courtesy of Julia Caesar.