How to stop treating yourself like a product

May 26, 2022
Mariam Zohouri

I love working from home.

But with little to distinguish our home and work lives, sometimes it can feel like we’re just a canvas of limbs that sprouted a new Frankenstein: equal parts soft pants, Zoom-appropriate tops, and bleary eyes that go from screen to screen to screen without ever really seeing anything.

More screen-time also means spending more time than ever before seeing other people’s productivity/successes/self-care.

Unfortunately, this also includes a heavy dose of toxic, unrealistic images that are shoved down our throats under the veil of “authenticity.”

But y'all: you're not a product that can be polished until you’re “good enough” for an Instagram post.

You're a person.

The kind of person who's been through *gestures broadly at everything* a lot lately, and is trying their best to get through the day without sobbing into their cereal.

Gloria Eid is all too familiar with that untethered feeling. 

Over the years she’s dedicated herself to helping people reconnect with who they really are: recognizing their talents, honoring their values and setting a steady foundation for a life that values personal fulfillment over external validation. 

We sat down with her to find out how we can do the same. 

With incredible coaches like Gloria, we’ve created audio and video lessons and exercises to help you build the career you deserve, without the anxiety that holds you back. 

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Mariam Zohouri: Why did you become a coach?

Gloria Eid: Before coaching I was working in higher education and student development at universities across Canada. People recognized me at work for developing my teams and building leadership curriculums for the students I worked with. Those one-on-one conversations really lit me up, particularly those around career development. 

I loved helping people connect the threads of their life. The work I did felt life affirming and positive, and yet, there was still something missing for me. I was on the edge of burning out. I began to feel more depleted than energized, and I knew that my way of living and working wasn’t sustainable. 

So I quit, and took that time to course-correct. I called it my career pause. That's where I explored a lot of my creativity. It was also a time for me to discover more of my interests and direction. I could see that a lot of my past experiences were relevant to helping others through career and life transitions.

The world of student affairs and development is focused on learning, reflection and growing. I was using coaching tools and skills without sometimes knowing the frameworks, techniques or theories. It was intuitive. So when I decided what next step I’d take for my career, I doubled down on the coaching. 

It also helped that when I was in university studying speech communication, the program was very hands-on and experiential. My instructors were organizational consultants and coaches. We learned through team projects. It’s where I learned how to explore life and work from a reflective and collaborative place. 

Work is such a big part of our lives. I want to be a part of making it a space where more people can feel in alignment and use their gifts. 

That's what encouraged me to become a coach. It’s where I can use my talents to guide, mentor, ask curious questions, celebrate people and just be in emotions with others. Really seeing people at their essence is so juicy for me. It's powerful work.

Mariam: I'm curious about something I saw on your website, where you describe different human types. Where do these definitions come from? Why do you use them? 

Gloria: They came from looking at who I was working with, and the spaces in a person's life or career journey that really excite me. It lets people see themselves in my work. 

I wanted to make it playful and to communicate and connect with people with a bit of lightheartedness, because it can be really, really hard for people to tap into sometimes on their own. 

I hope those definitions of the Daring Leader, Go-Getter, Soul Searcher and Hiding Artist can help people see that they're not problems to be fixed, but rather characters in this game of life—with personality, history, obstacles, and dreams, coming into a space where all of that is allowed, welcomed, and needs to be examined and explored. 

It's not about finding the issue I'm up against and getting a strategy to fix it. That's not how humans work. 

Daring Leaders are really stepping into themselves or being asked for more responsibility and they're coming up against their own shit. Go-Getters want to do everything all the time, don't know how to slow down, and are caught up in their work. 

Soul Searchers are in transition, who know they're on the verge of something but not quite sure what that is. Hiding Artists see themselves as creative and are yearning to express themselves more, but are caught up in fear and doubt. And of course, with most people I work with, there’s often a blending across the types.

Mariam: You're also a creative—I saw that you have an Instagram dedicated to your poetry. How do you create space for this practice in your life? Do you have any guidance for others who might be missing that heart-centered space in their lives?

Gloria: It was only six or seven years ago that I even came to see myself as a creative person. I had a certain definition of what creativity and being creative meant before that. 

Coming from a lineage of artists, I saw my older sister’s talent that came from my mother, who was an artist back in Lebanon, and whose father was a metalsmith, woodworker and incredible painter. 

And I just didn't get that gene. For all of my life I didn't know that my creativity was expressed differently—something that comes through me as a human with ideas who enjoys making sense of the world around her. 

When I decided to reevaluate my life I basically flipped its foundation. Before, work was my base, and I was trying to fit everything else in my life in and around it. But to create space for your creativity you need to first believe that you are a creative being. If you don't think that you are, you just don't know yourself well enough yet. 

What lights you up, when do you feel in flow? When do you access that heart-centered place? How I create space for it has also been a journey. Right now I'm really attentive to honoring the rhythms of my life, and trusting that if and when I allow the space, that that creative essence will meet me there. 

But if I'm going through the motions and being run by my calendar and meetings with other people's energy, it's apparent that I haven't been connected to myself or my creativity. 

What's been important is learning that I don't have to action every idea that comes to me. That's not the point. We are idea generators as humans. It all serves a purpose, even if they’re just the soil for an idea that will grow later on. 

I will actually block off time from coaching clients to be in my own energy for multiple days at a time. When I was in salaried jobs or full-time work, I would use my vacation days and create a staycation at home, whether for two days or a week. And I would get into it, whatever it is that I wanted to do. 

I wasn’t concerned with producing anything by the end of it, either. I learned how important it is for me to rest for the sake of it, and simply create space for reflecting and visioning.

Mariam: On your site, you describe focusing on "the human dimension of business, education, and social change." What is the human dimension, and why does it matter? 

Gloria: I've always been in the business of people, not product. The thread has always been understanding the human experience and supporting people through challenging moments of transition. 

In my work I try to guide people to see themselves as leaders and to honor the way they are called to lead. Leadership is not a role or job title—it’s truly a way of being. 

When people are more connected with themselves, and anchored into their values, and making decisions from a place of conviction and truth, then the business will be better. For a long time there's been a disconnect, and a belief that we should just keep our eyes on the prize, focus on the goal. 

But I'm trying to create spaces where people can get really honest with themselves about where they want to go, what they see for the future of the world, and how they can contribute to it without compromising on their values.

Mariam: You've also talked about wanting to help leaders "with big hearts and creative minds navigate the pains of growth." What is unique about people with these attributes that makes growth challenging for them? What common challenges do they come to you with?

Gloria: A big heart is so powerful, but it can be overwhelming. I want to help people see it as not something to be scared of but as a source of intelligence. Sensitivity can be used for good and helps build strong, connected and clear relationships. 

The creative mind can also be a source of overwhelming feelings, because the creator can see complexity with everything and that can create confusion. 

But having space for nuance helps create success, because it means you're not just seeing things in black and white, or in a way that's linear. You can question and imagine things beyond their current state. 

As we grow, we go through different seasons, and we can fall into this place of mystery, of the unknown. If in those spaces we can explore what's scary about it, and uncover its gifts, then we can move on to the next season where we have more space for visioning and planting seeds, to take steps forward into the dedication and devotion of our work and the lives we want to create. 

With folks like this, it can be really hard to celebrate accomplishments. So having a space to slow down with someone and take stock of everything without judgment, but with love and acceptance, can help us move forward to that next stage of growth. 

It's an illusion that things ought to be steady and clear all the time. That's a bit of a boring life. I know that our ego and safety instinct really likes the idea of things being steady and consistent but we're here to experience and adventure through life. There has to be some contrast in order for us to make meaning of things. 

Big hearts and creative minds resonate with me, and I want to help them see the nuance of their existence and recognize all the ways they can get value from their experiences.

Mariam:  Would you say that someone going from that one-track mind to a realm where they can accept more nuance is an example of progress? 

Gloria: It's more about people not evaluating their progress as if they themselves are products to measure. To instead find for themselves new ways to measure progress that aren't based on performance, or metrics, or how much output they've created. 

Especially when it comes to creativity, it's not about output but it's an outlet for expression. Leaders in business and people who support others aren't traditional artists necessarily, but they're still creative minds making things happen in the world. 

When I see people make decisions with conviction, I know that progress is being made. When I see people make choices that reflect their core values, when they are clear, when they have integrity and take a step that requires them to activate their courage—that's huge. 

Real work and success aren’t about how much you can accomplish, but about accomplishing things that are important to your heart, and that fulfill your spirit. 

The deliverables almost take care of themselves because the process is rooted in this extraordinary level of awareness. How you do it is just as important as what you do. 

Progress is intangible, but it manifests in life and in work with more confidence, clearer relationships and more authenticity. There's also an element of playfulness and laughter. 

I’m inspired when we can see the fun in this big, beautiful process. It offers a moment of release, or relief, that gets brought into the rest of your life, and relationships, and work. It's just awesome. 


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