10 years ago, working in a medium sized local corporation in the accounting department, I often thought, “They’d never notice I was gone”. In the 12 years I spent working for this corporation; I worked 9 hours a day, five days a week, alone in a quiet corner of the office listening and adding to the shifting papers, tapping of adding machines and computers, rumble of gossiping, and the random stapler. The interaction with others was typically criticism or to be included in the latest gossip. The management was softer, kinder, willing to listen, but did not take action to build a more supportive environment. Over time, despite excellent annual reviews and pay raises, I was often left with a feeling of not fitting in, not being good at what I did, not doing enough, not being liked.

This feeling came home with me. Over time, I completely lost my sense of self worth. I truly felt the work I did was pointless, that my efforts went unnoticed, and that my being a part of that organization was a waste. Often, during these years I cried myself to sleep.

Today, my clients often share similar stories. There is desperation in their tears, a feeling of being stuck, and a deep desire for things to shift. The story of their work trickles into their life, like mine did. It trickles into their relationships, their self care choices, and eventually their health. I am reminded of my journey when I work with these women.

It can happen in any area of our lives, this disempowerment and conditioning. Maybe it begins in elementary school, or in our family unit. We are molded to fit into a system model so that we can “grow up and get a good job”. I remember being told phrases like, “mine is not to reason why, mine is just to do or die” and “make do with what you have”. Childhood dreams are brushed under the rug. This mindset is what I took with me into my work as a book keeper.

It wasn’t until I began to question the mindset of “adult living” and the circumstances I was in that I began to make choices that changed my career and thus my total life experience. At one point, I had a clear realization, that despite what I felt others wanted me to do or be, that I had a choice to make a change, and if I wanted to live a life that was in alignment with who I am at all, I better get busy.

Identifying what I wanted to do at 36 was a little different than when I was in high school, I did a lot of pondering possibilities and research. The next step was committing to learning, then taking action to build a business.

After every single step, I felt a little more confident in my abilities. As time went on and I earned my certification, continued school, built my business, built amazing relationships with others in my field, became a mentor for the school I graduated from, wrote and published books, my confidence soared.

In reflection, I believe my self worth was really tied to my belief that I have the power to direct my life. My understanding that I’m driving this bus. Once I began to take the wheel and realize that I could drive it in any direction I wanted to go, safely and successfully, I took my power back and began to take big action. This has trickled into my life, and every night I go to sleep with a sense of gratitude and fulfillment.

I know now, I would be missed, if I decided to leave.

Tammi Hoerner is an IAHC Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who supports women in living full, healthy, happy lives through her business MomPositive.

Originally published at medium.com