The Day the Guru Died
Have you ever fallen prey to someone you put on a pedestal? Entered into a relationship in which you worked to receive validation, to be worthy of their admiration and approval?
I spent decades pedestaling anyone I deemed prettier, smarter, or luckier. I had a terrible case of “I’m not good enough.” It made me the ideal client for self-improvement gurus.
In 2014, after recently discovering my abilities as a budding psychic medium, I found myself at a convention of spiritual leaders, the Super Bowl of spirituality for people like me. That’s where I met my guru.
What separated her from the rest was that she looked . . . normal. She was funny and lighthearted in her spiritualism, whereas other gurus wore crystals and scarves and looked like nineteenth-century psychics plying their trade with a crystal ball.
Having been born with the name Willow I’ve always strived to be “normal,” even—dare I say?—cool.
This guru was the embodiment of that desire. She took the weird out of the psychic identity.
She was my oasis of normalcy in this bizarre world. Her training course was just what I needed: someone to help me get out of my own way!
Like many of her followers, I was full of hope and excitement for what this great woman could teach me.
That’s the thing about a guru: they’re only as important as their followers make them.
This is how, over four years, I learned that painful lesson.
Example: Tony Robbins’s fans pay thousands of dollars simply to witness him speak in packed stadiums filled wall to wall with people. But my guru’s workshops were more intimate.
Year after year, I arrived with a dwindling group of peers and the anticipation that one day she was going to teach us about our intuitive abilities, let us do readings for others, and tell us we were ready.
I thought that as the crowd dwindled, she would become a person I could call and ask, “Hey girl, what do you think?” I wanted her validation, her seal of approval.
Instead, during 2017 while working on my upcoming book and program for my business, I asked if she would write a foreword for the book and offer me some feedback.
According to her staff, this appointment would cost $400. I decided the affirmation of a woman I’d already paid thousands was worth every penny.
I cleared my head and prepared my questions. This guru was soft and funny on the outside, but one-on-one she was scary, hard. Cold.
Then I got an email. She had been called away due to an emergency. We had to reschedule… and the day available was for a day I was traveling out of state and parenting solo. I’d have no time to prepare.
On the day of our call, I looked frantically for the notes I had written. I’d forgotten to pack them.
Tears stung my eyes when the phone rang. Her first words were a slap: “Why aren’t you grounded? Get grounded.” I had no time to explain. She then abruptly and with little patience asked, “What’s your full name and birthday?”
What? I didn’t need a psychic reading. That wasn’t why I’d arranged the call!
I squirmed in my chair and tried to explain, “I wanted to talk about a book . . .”
She interrupted, “I need to look psychically and see if you are even meant to write a book.”
My heart sank as I resigned myself to her way as the only way, leaving behind my expectations for this meeting, the $400, and the piece of me that had believed she was special.
At the time, what I lost that day felt like money, dignity, and time. But I gained a whole new vantage point. It took me months to see it, but eventually I got there.
I was no one in the eyes of my guru.
All the time and energy I’d spent at her workshops had amounted to nothing. I meant nothing to her.
She was never going to validate me, my work, or my abilities. It felt like breaking up with someone.
I had put her on a pedestal and given her the power to confirm and validate me, as if I would be no one without her approval. I had “specialized” her.
And now the pedestal was wobbling.
This feeling was confirmed at the very last workshop I attended.
I had just launched my own signature program, using not one word from our interview. I felt high and empowered, and had decided to come to the workshop not just for her teacher training certificate, but to prove to myself that we were equals. She was no longer special.
But when I ran into her in the lobby and excitedly shouted her name and a “hello,” she vaguely smiled and ran past us, preoccupied. I realized suddenly she was a scared and busy woman who couldn’t connect socially with her followers, let alone see us as equals.
That confirmed it. I’d knocked over the pedestal. The guru was dead.
The group included faces I had seen at these workshops for years and new faces I soon discovered had been members of the tribe for over seven years. One of them said, “I’ve been coming for five years! This is the first year Sonia told me I was doing well!”.
She was still yearning for her validation after five years? WTF!
It was a realization, not a criticism. What had this woman, this guru, done to us? Were we in a cult?
The next day while working in small groups, I asked her to clarify the lesson. Instead of wowing me with a new tool, she shot back with, “If you don’t know the answer to your question, you can’t be a teacher!”
She then turned to my peers and said, “Willow wants to be a teacher and psychic.” She then turned back to me expectantly, “Well?”
I pressed back calmly, explaining I actually understood the basics perfectly well, but I was still missing something. She refused to engage my question.
Instead she said, ” If you understand manifesting, you Teach it.” She tossed me the mic, then stood in the back of the room, arms crossed.
I began to speak. My lesson was about trust and patience, and I used a simple story about my daughter. I was careful to keep my lesson short, since no one had paid to see me teach. In the end, I looked at the audience and the guru, and said to her with a smile on my face, “Well I couldn’t have done that last year!” and I laughed as I knew I had bested myself.
She took back the mic, neither validating nor congratulating me. Rather, she corrected me. According to her, I should have focused on being an energetic match for what I wanted.
Then she moved on.
One of my friends later acknowledged the situation by saying, “You’re right . . . she really is tough on you.”
On the final day of the teacher training, the guru offered the stage to her daughter. She said, “Having worked with many of you, I can say the thing you all have in common is self-doubt. Imagine what you could do if you set that doubt aside.”
I was suddenly shook, and in tears . . . I was mad.
All these years, I’d internalized the message that my problems stemmed from my own programming, that if I was triggered, the problem came from within, not without. But that’s not always the case. I had worked through the layers of my shit and it had gotten me to this massive realization and the ultimate death of the guru.
Marketing campaigns pinpoint an insecurity in the ideal customer. You buy laundry detergent based on its ability to solve your problems, you sign up for diet solutions because they say they can make you skinny.
The spiritual self-help market earns $11 billion a year. It capitalizes on our pain, self-doubt, limiting beliefs. They make money when we feel invalidated. No wonder I hadn’t progressed quicker. It was literally my guru’s full-time job not to validate me!
I believe each of us can benefit from this work. But it can be taught with a lot more integrity love and generosity. We don’t need a guru’s validation. We need our own.
If you have been stuck in the spin cycle of self-improvement, waiting for someone to validate you, today is the day you get it from me. You are enough! There is nothing to fear. All that self-doubt is trying to keep you from exploring your true potential. All those limiting beliefs are fairy tales passed down from generation to generation to keep you safe from your dreams, from abundance, love, happiness, energy, time and money.
The day the guru dies is the day we RISE, unlimited, past self-doubt, limiting beliefs, comparison, fear, and scarcity and live up to our true potential!
There’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s nothing about you that isn’t enough. You don’t need a guru’s validation. You’re perfect.
Be your own Guru, you are Trustworthy and Wise.
— Originally Published June 25, 2018 on Thrive Global
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