• Making ourselves small doesn’t help anyone, least of all, ourselves
  • What ‘living small’ looks and feels like in real life
  • The internal changes when we work on ourselves do affect how we show up in the world
  • The concept of borrowing someone else’s belief in you
  • How 2020 became the catalyst for Mara to finally do the work that allowed her to step out and take up space

One of the hardest work we have to do is working on ourselves. The hard task of changing our internal narratives, the stories that often run in the background sub-consciously, that stop us from doing the things we want to do. This is real work, especially as these stories developed over time. Some have been with us since our formative years. They are part of our internal operating system.

I’m so grateful to my guest today, Mara Glatzel, who graciously shared her recent experience of personal change and development with me.

Mara Glatzel is an intuitive coach who helps perfectionists and people-pleasers reclaim their sovereignty. Her superpower is saying what you need to hear when you need to hear it and she is here to help you believe in yourself as much as she believes in you.

But the ability to do this for others did not mean that Mara had this mastered for herself. She has always been able to read a room well and sense what’s needed, which is a great skill in a professional capacity. But this also meant that in a personal sense, she was always contorting herself trying to please – something that she has been doing for most of her life


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Tanya Geisler
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“It became such a cage.”

A lot of it is rooted in trauma that I experienced in interpersonal relationships over the course of the first couple of decades of my life. It is self-protection and making myself small, making myself pleasing.

I’m able to read a room really well and being able to energetically become what I can sense is needed — which is brilliant in a professional capacity with the work that I do. But in a personal sense, I was always shapeshifting. I was always contorting.

There had to be a lot of healing around being seen as I am and not being liked. There are just so many years of my life where I played it much smaller than I wanted to because I wanted to be universally appealing, universally liked, really in an attempt to keep myself safe.

Keeping myself small is associated with that belief that, if I just manage everything perfectly, if I just present a certain side of myself to the world,  if every single person on the planet likes me, then I can be safe. It became, it became such a cage.

“That’s what living is […] allowing other people to know you.”

As I’m shrugging this constrictive identity off and allowing myself to be myself out loud, a couple of things are going to happen.  Some people are not going to like me. The more that I’m able to say, “This is my work, this is who I’m for,” I’m also saying who it’s not for. Also, having a better relationship with myself, reminding myself that my worth is not associated with external approval. I see it’s like holding myself so that I’m able to work through sometimes the profound discomfort of what it meant to be myself.

I’m really loud. I’m really passionate. I’m a lot of a person. And when I let myself be myself out loud, just like for all of us, I say the wrong thing.  I make like the quote-unquote, wrong choices out loud. Everyone’s noticing. And also, that’s what living is. Breaking free from that perfectionism and really fully embodying yourself, your personality. Allowing other people to know you.

Before, I would have been surrounded by people, but I felt so lonely. Because I wasn’t letting them really know me. I was letting them know the version of me that I knew that they wanted to know, which was so exhausting.

“There were a lot of learned behaviors that were comfortable but not aligned with my desire to be seen.”

As all coping mechanisms are, it just became this way of being in the world. And as I started to dig deeper into I want to be known, I want that intimacy of real friendships and letting people really be in a relationship with me. And I started to do that healing work. First I have to face the fact that there are a lot of ways, a lot of learned behaviors, that are really comfy and cozy and also, not aligned with that desire to be seen and to be known.

It started to be that I had things that I really wanted to spend my energy on and I didn’t have the energy to be perfecting myself all of the time and contorting myself all the time. And as I became aware of that, I became aware of all of the different ways that that theme was showing up in my life.

“Transformations don’t just happen. We open up new doors to it as we’re ready.”

I was having a conversation with my spouse last night around this area of my life, where I am realizing that this is showing up again in a very subtle way where it’s really risky to go out.

I wrote a book this year and I’m in the middle of working on a book proposal to get it published. And in this book proposal process, again I’m confronted with this. I know what the right and best things are to say. I always know. Because that’s our conditioning. We know what the right and best things are to say, we know what’s expected of us. It’s far riskier and also the reward is far greater when we go out and we say, “This may not be for you, but this is the book that I’m writing. This is the book that I want to write, and this is how I want to talk about it.”

And this is authority as the leader of our own life to say, Hey, this is what it is and your approval or validation of this or not doesn’t impact or take away from my inherent worth. That can’t be taken away.

“Part of playing small was the constant perfecting [..] and some time, I’ll be ready somehow.”

I was holding out on myself from things that I wanted to do. Part of playing small was the constant perfecting. So, there’s a thing that I want to do and some time I’ll be ready somehow. This comes out in many different ways. When I lose weight, when I figure it out, when I do this, when I do that.

Playing small really manifested in that way for me my whole life. It felt like I was just holding my breath. And toiling away, trying to improve myself to get to this place where I was allowed to do the things that I wanted to do. So, there was a lot of pain in there too around constantly trying to better myself so that I could somehow get the opportunity to do what I wanted to do.

“We craft these personas.”

I have a four-year-old who is extremely vibrant like to the nth degree. She loves attention. She’s very sparkly. She’s really loud. And, in watching her grow up, I really am transported back to my childhood.

I realized that I had created this kind of persona for myself where I was an introvert. I was like, Oh, this makes sense, I’m an introvert. But am I really an introvert? No, I am not. We craft these personas about ourselves that fit with keeping ourselves small. I had a lot of hurt and a lot of trauma around what it is like to be what I call ‘a sparkle pony’ and be this bright and vibrant version of yourself because it’s really polarizing.

I love my daughter to death. She talks all day long and needs a lot of attention. She’s just exuberantly delighted by everything but also very disappointed by things.

And in her, I’ve reacquainted with this version of myself that is an extrovert and likes to be around people. I used to tell myself, “Oh, I’m uncomfortable with praise. I’m uncomfortable with being complimented.” Not true, actually. I mean, is that true for any of us? I’m not really sure. So, I’ve been undoing a lot of those pillars of my personality that I had put in place to support staying small.

“I can’t die without writing this book.”

It proceeded gradually for a period of time until it became really urgent feeling for me. And I think this happens with awareness. We’re kind of like figuring it out, figuring it out, figuring out. And then when we start to be aware of how we might be living in ways that aren’t aligned with how we want to live, all of a sudden it’s like, everything is extremely uncomfortable and we have to take action immediately.

This past year has been profoundly transformative for me. Obviously, there’s the pandemic. I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old who are here at my house.

Also, in thinking about the pandemic and the virus, what it did to me was to think about the impact that I want to leave. In March last year, I was like, I can’t die without having written this book. And it took off from there. It was like, okay, well now I’m writing this book and I have to put myself out there.

I’ve been like writing this book for a long time. And if I’m totally honest, the reason that it never got done was because… you can write all day on Instagram or for my programs or emails, but like putting 70,000 words altogether and saying, this is what I believe, really forced me to dig deep around.

It has forced me in further, like getting an agent, writing a book proposal, sending a book proposal out and not getting great feedback, having to take it back to the drawing board. All of this has caused me to really bolster myself in a way that I had just not had to do before.

“Part of the trauma for me is that no one’s going to be there to support me.”

I was working with Tanya Geisler in her Impecable Impact program. And getting that support was a large part of my transformation.

I was like, Okay, I’m like showing up in some really big ways and part of the trauma for me is no one’s going to be there. Nobody’s going to support me. And I was like, what support can I put in this place while I’m trying to do these things so that I can have some love poured in there.

Tanya says this great thing a lot, around borrowing in her belief for you. And I think that that’s so essential when you’re struggling to have that belief yourself — having somebody whose belief in you is strong enough that you can borrow from it while you’re learning how to cultivate your own.

“It’s okay. I can keep myself safe now.”

I was part of a couple of different groups over the course of this last year. And one of them was Tanya’s group. Every time, I asked for help or celebrated a win, I would be like, this is horrible, they all hate me.

It takes practice to be able to say, this is okay, whatever they think about you is really their business, quite frankly. And also really investigating. We don’t know what other people think about us but we are putting our judgments of ourselves into their heads all of the time.

What am I thinking that they’re thinking about me? And why am I thinking that about myself and 99% of the time, it was really this last-ditch effort to keep me safe. It’s like, don’t do that. That’s a dangerous thing to do. And then in that space, being able to remind myself like, Yeah, we’re really out there on the ledge. But I can keep myself safe now. I’m not 14, I’m not nine. I’m a full-grown human. This can be uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean I’m doing the wrong thing.

“I don’t need to go down that road.”

I think it’s important to start by experimenting with people that you feel really comfortable with. Not even necessarily saying like, Hey, I’m doing a thing and I’m going to start showing up differently,” but just showing up differently.I was doing that for a little bit of time.

Around August of last year, I almost couldn’t help myself. It’s like, I just have this energy that started having a life of its own. It was also very scary and very uncomfortable.

All of a sudden, I started getting these DMS from my professional friends on Instagram. They were like, “I don’t know what’s going on over there, but I like it. Something is happening. I can’t even really put words to it.”

So, all that to say, it started to leak out everywhere and people did start to notice. And at that moment it was really important for me, again, to be kind to myself.

I want to say, people are noticing and that is a bad thing. Like, what does that mean? What do they think about what I was before? What are they now thinking about me? That I’m now obnoxious and arrogant? All these thoughts. And I told myself I don’t need to go down that road.

So like all of these doors, these very familiar doors started opening pretty loudly. And again, it was this real opportunity to remain by my side.

The other side is that not to go forward in a way that feels forced for me either. There’s an ebb and flow to it.

Being in partnership with myself is the biggest area to reclaim. My first priority is me and everything else falls in.


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