How Listening to myself brought me to the Sweet Spot of life according to what I WANT and BELIEVE.

It’s taken me many, many years, the majority of my life, to really listen to myself. Why?  Because like many of you, I had very strong influences about how I should be, what I should believe and what success looks like.  Sound familiar?


Back in 2014, I started my coaching journey which was a hugely transformative experience.  Immersing myself in coaching, (and being coached), made me A LOT more self- aware. As my self-awareness grew, (and continues to grow to this day), I came to realize that up until I attended my first coaching course, I lived my life according to a playbook that was not my own.  

The History

Part of why I struggled to live by my own playbook is because I had a very strong-minded father, an immigrant from Europe, he came to the US at the age of 12, not speaking any English.  He was a dominating force. There was a lot of good that he taught me. As an example, I will be forever grateful for fostering my adventurous and independent spirit. My parents encouraged all the kids to be very independent.  For example, when I was 12 years old, my father gave me $20 and told me to go into Manhattan by myself and learn the city, ride the subway and go to museums. To this day, I’m an inquisitive explorer and traveler. After graduating from college, I lived in Tokyo, working at my first job post-graduation.  The Travel Bug was only stimulated to a greater extent as my adventures led me (more recently) to living for several years in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Bogota, Colombia. If it weren’t for my father’s influence and my mother’s support, I may not have embraced so many wonderful, adventurous opportunities.  

The Flipside

And then there is the flipside where he influenced me to live my life in a way that was congruent with his values, but not congruent with mine. I don’t believe there was a deliberate intention to manipulate, it was more likely fearful guidance coming from the subtle but ever-present firm beliefs of a previous generation.  Eventually, I came to understand that my parents wanted me to be independent in the world, but not too independent of them – their beliefs and their fears. Part of the result of my upbringing is due to the era where parents weren’t particularly looking to foster a child’s uniqueness or personal interests – at least mine were not  and this is common with many children of immigrants.  It likely was the first generation where the struggles for independence from their parents of a female child was a constant underlying theme that took many years for me to unravel. 

Why it was Expected

Another theme that influenced my upbringing was around the different experiences of being Jewish.  My father had experienced Anti-Semitism, first hand in Europe, in a way that was severe and traumatic.  On the other hand, my mother, born on the East Coast US, experienced it more subtly, but their wedding reception at the “Jewish Country Club” in Virginia serves as a symbol of segregation and being “less than”. For me, that meant that part of my living inheritance from both sides of my family included “generational trauma”, despite the fact that my childhood, in New Jersey, was quite different from theirs.  Constant reminders prevailed in stereo from both parents. Those reminders contributed to the barriers from listening to myself.

The Results

Going to certain schools and colleges, studying certain subjects, applying for certain jobs were all strongly advised, and I felt afraid to stray from these “suggestions”;  in many instances unbeknownst to me “mandates,”. I learned to ignore ever-present feelings of internal stress from not listening to myself. As a result, visions for myself were framed within the confines of what I perceived as possible not what could be explored among the universe of dreams. 


Even well into my adult life, I can see how many of my life decisions were fear-based. While I do have an entrepreneurial spirit, and would likely never have ended up working for somebody else, it’s not a shocker that the business I started at age 30  (and still have to this day) is a successful insurance brokerage, an industry that was created around limiting risk and providing security. 


Just like all of us, some of what I learned from my parents felt like “theirs” and some of what I learned felt like “ours”, but nevertheless, I was living a life that wasn’t fully “me”.  

Like many people, I would have continued my life as I was living it.  On the surface, I looked like the picture of success – beautiful homes and cars, in a beautiful area, a marriage that people admired, etc. Truly though, despite all the beautiful “things”, I felt a huge hole in my life because I was living someone else’s ideal life, but not my own.

Listening to Me

When I finally started to listen to myself and had the courage to act, my life got pretty crazy for several years (divorce, liquidation of assets, tons of drama, selling a business and moving overseas) – to be shared in more detail in later blogs.  Truthfully, though, if I’d discovered coaching much earlier in my life, I likely would have taken a different path.. That said, my life has been perfectly imperfect and listening to myself was a new muscle that took time to build. 


This level of personal upheaval that I was experiencing really threw me off balance for quite some time. As the dust settled, and that listening muscle strengthened, I found the courage to act on a dream and check out the first course of the coaching program at The Coaches Training Institute.  In truth, I believed that I was already “coaching” because I’m that friend that listens and offers suggestions. Within the first 15 minutes of that initial course, I knew I had no idea how to coach and I also knew that I would go through the entire program. I felt it in my bones like I had come “home”.


During that course, I remember being asked, “What do you truly want in your life?” Once I answered, “I want to learn how to do this powerful work”, and really heard those words coming out of my mouth, I knew I had taken a life-altering giant step to connect with an intrinsic part of myself, and my life would be forever changed.

How I Changed

In truth, my life is drastically different now, 5 years after starting my first coaching course.   It’s as if I got a full body and soul adjustment where I’m running on all cylinders, not just certain ones.  I attribute this to both listening to myself and summoning the courage to take the necessary steps to take active control over my life. So many times, I used to say things like, I have no choice, I have to______ or I should do ________. To be honest, I still slip because it’s a deeply ingrained habit, but I also catch myself and repeat the corrected version out loud – to truly listen to myself.  The truth is that we always have a choice in what we say and how we act. The first step is to really listen to yourself and take it from there. Once you start this practice, you take a powerful step in living a personally fulfilling life according to your self-defined growth goals.


So, if you’re wondering what it would feel like to start living your life according to your own internal playbook, I invite you to contact me to see what it’s like to connect.


What does your inner voice say to you?

What would it look like to live life as you truly envision it for yourself?

What would it feel like to live by your own playbook?

Categories: Insights


Monica · September 7, 2019 at 3:09 am

Thank you for sharing. I always look at others and think their lives are perfect, we never really know what are the challenges that other person is facing. On that, this has been very helpful for someone like myself, who grew up with an immigrant mother. She was so worried of standing out that she didn’t even teach us her Native language! She is a wonderful mother and gave us a lot, perhaps similar to your experience with your parents she gave us wonderful attributes and on the “flip side “ not so wonderful attributes such as her fears and insecurities of standing out,the fear of taking risks and fear of asking for what one needs. Understanding this has allowed me to work on my issues with fear. Thank you for guidance and help. If it wasn’t for your coaching I would still be where I was a year ago, being pushed around, crying over another unhealthy relationship, smoking a pack or cigarettes a day and quietly letting my fears and nicotine eat me away. I am healthy and happy these days . I am excited about life and the learnt fears are dissipating, I am unlearning and unraveling them one by one and embracing the possibilities of life for the first time ever. Thank you Carly.

    Carly Ebenstein · October 15, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Thank you for your comment, Monica. Yes, kids like us who have a parent that came from a different country have our own special challenges. It’s a life time of learning for all of us to figure out then live authentically – whatever that means to us, individually.

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