It’s 8 am in Paris, and the city is awakening outside my cab’s window. I’m in my elegant dress, classy heels, and a designer bag, portraying a picture-perfect image of accomplishment. Yet, beneath this polished exterior, an inexplicable turmoil is brewing.
Suddenly, my body draws my attention: my stomach knots, and an odd flutter resides in my chest. I realize that this discomfort has become a daily companion, stubbornly growing despite my efforts to ignore it.
Arriving at the office, I step out of the cab and inhale deeply. The sensation of unease clings to me like a shadow, refusing to let go as I dive into work, channeling my energy into investment opportunities, financial modeling, and navigating office dynamics.
It’s 9 pm, and Paris is quiet outside my cab’s window. Despite heading toward my fiancé, the inner unease persists.
The Spiral of Uncertainty
As I lay on my pillow, numerous questions flood my mind.
At first, I’m just confused: “Why do I feel weird, uncomfortable, and always tired even though things seem great? I just got back from vacation, the wedding is coming up, I’m about to get promoted again, and I feel in control of my life. This doesn’t make sense”.
Then comes the guilt: “what is wrong with me? Seriously, I should be thankful and not let this drag me down. Time to sleep now.”.
After a few seconds, shame, and loneliness follow: “Well, maybe I should talk to someone? But they won’t get it. They always say I'm lucky, and they might think I'm just one of those people who are never satisfied. Am I?”.
Lastly, fear takes the stage: “I need to stop thinking like this! What if I mess up everything? This is my life we're talking about – my dreams, my goals, my identity. I can't afford to lose it.”.
Ignoring and Denying
That fear drove me into denial. Every day I felt I was living a version of the Myth of Sisyphus - attempting to push the inner unease aside as if it were an inconvenient boulder, only to see it relentlessly returning again, stronger and stronger… It was becoming clear that ignoring it wouldn’t solve anything.
Seeking External Fixes
And so, I embarked on a quest for solutions.
I envisioned a move from Paris to NYC, another promotion at work, another rejuvenating vacation, another day shopping my favorite brands, another girl’s weekend getaway.
Yet, escaping to new horizons or circumstances, while momentarily diverting, failed to address this growing discomfort. In fact, they even made the confusion, guilt, shame, fear, and the body symptoms even more present. It was never enough.
However, arriving at this realization wasn’t the end of it. I didn’t have the courage to go beyond that fear and confront the root causes of my inner unease. So, I remained trapped in the illusion of external fixes for a while.
It was only when the foundations of what I feared losing crumbled that I was forced to confront a new reality. To survive, I had no choice but to explore another way.
That way was to turn inward instead of moving away from the invisible companion. And initially, it was terrifying - what might I discover, question, or need to change?
Taking a pause from my autopilot routine, I began to explore my sensations, feelings, thoughts, and patterns. It was like becoming a detective of my own inner world, looking at things with honesty and self-kindness.
By doing so, I discovered parts of myself that I wasn’t aware of. With curiosity, I kept peeling back layers like an onion: Why did I act this way for so long? What was the core belief behind it? Where does it come from? Does it serve me? Why did I compromise so much? Who and what am I truly afraid to lose?
This self-discovery journey helped me gain a deep understanding of what was holding me back, what I needed to let go of, and what truly matters to me.
From this place of clarity, I could finally envision a new path ahead, one that resonated with my authentic self. This gave me the confidence to explore and experiment with changes that aligned with my true needs and desires.
The Power of Moving from the Inside-Out
Through this process, a profound truth emerged: external changes, no matter how grand, cannot replace the transformation that starts within.
The harmony I was seeking between outer success and inner fulfillment resided within my own being. That was the key to transforming the unease into peace, joy, and excitement.
Is it always a smooth ride? Nope. Is it worth it? Hell yes! Do you have to do it alone? Absolutely not!
Let's embark on this journey together and witness your life blossoming into an authentic reflection of your true self, both inside and out.
Lamiaa Laurène Daif, a strategy leader at Apple, executive coach, and dancer, empowers individuals and organizations to translate growth potential into meaningful transformations. As the creator of the Inside-Out Model, she guides transformation from within through a multi-layered process focused on awareness, understanding, and reinvention.
Lamiaa is a Board member and Treasurer at Resonate Workshops, a nonprofit fostering leadership among African women and youth.
A graduate of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Lamiaa also holds finance Master's degrees from Paris Dauphine University and is a certified ICF coach.
Lamiaa also channels her passion as a dance teacher, using movement to help people authentically express themselves.
Check out her TED Talk at Stanford University “What Your Body Knows and Mind Ignores” here: https://youtu.be/Vr8konJo3NA
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