When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

It has been said, and I’ve said it before,

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

This is a story of a teacher appearing for me, at the time when I needed it most. It is long post, and an intensely personal story, which you may or may not be interested in reading. I ramble, I skip here and there. It doesn’t convey well the emotions I felt when I was in the middle of it. I debated for a long time about whether to even publish it, actually. I came, though, to the realization that many people are in the same place I was. Maybe by sharing what I’ve gone and am going through, a door will open for someone else to step out into the light.

The teacher in my story is Wendy Piersall, who writes eMoms At Home, and is, to quote a post on her site, “now certified as an NLP Practitioner, an NLP Coach, and have all the training I need to get my certifications as a HypnoTherapist and Time Line Therapy Practitioner.” She is a very talented, compassionate, caring person, who did more for me than I could have ever done for myself, by myself.

So what is all this about?

It began after I’d started an excercise on eMoms, Go to the Mattresses :: Overcoming Obstacles Vs. Untapped Potential. I’d done this kind of excercise many times before, but I wanted to do it again, because I hadn’t gotten the results I wanted. It’s a process to help you identify values and rules you have that may be in conflict with each other, with a very effective means to get them straightened out.

I began the excercise using something I wanted to turn around: a lack of confidence, self-doubt.

Here’s where I give you the chance to go on to something else: if you want to read more, click the “read the rest of this entry” link…

You have to understand excercises like this that use NLP, or variants of NLP such as that taught by Tony Robbins. They can be very intensive, and emotional. As a matter of fact, if they aren’t intensive and emotional, you probably aren’t doing them as effectively as you could.

Continuing on…

I made it through the excercise to the point of feeling very emotional about what results a lack of confidence was causing in my life. At that point, you’re to change the state you’re in. You get up, walk around, get cheerful again; lose the emotional intensity that you’d immersed yourself in.

It was at that point that I choked. As I wrote to Wendy later,

After I had made myself feel bad about what a lack of confidence was doing for me, I got up as you suggested, and walked around the house for a minute. I spotted an object laying in another room that was an example to me of one of the not-so-good things that I do in my life. Immediately I went into a state of what I can only describe as severe depression. My thoughts were along the lines of “how can I possibly deserve success and happiness if I keep doing THIS? Maybe THIS is what I need to cure first.” Which led me BACK to the excercise.

The next two hours of very emotional introspection helped me determine that the belief that I needed to conquer before I could move on, in truth the belief that really caused the manifestation of most, if not all, of the traits I didn’t like about myself, and self-destructive behaviors I indulged in, was a deep-seated lack of self-worth, a belief that I was inherently inferior.

But I didn’t know what to do. I looked all over the net for information dealing with the ‘inferiority complex’. But what I found wasn’t very helpful. So I did something that in a million years I never thought I’d do:

I asked for help.

I got back on Wendy’s blog, went to her contact page, and started out this way:

I’m somewhat apprehensive about contacting you like this, but I have a need that transcends the risks of embarassment. This is a giant step for me–I don’t ask anybody for anything–ever.

That in itself is a symptom, I guess, of the very thing I need desperately to put behind me…get over…cure…get around: an almost overwhelming sense of inferiority. So much so that I let it almost immobilize me in any situations where I’m not by myself.

Which brings me to my question: do you know of any resources you can point me to that deal specifically with this? Or just what the hell I can do about it?

I’d written more, but that was the gist of it.

I stared at the ‘submit’ button for two hours. I finally did one of those ‘jump off the cliff’ things. I pushed the button.

Immediately, a sense of overwhelming relief came over me. Maybe I could get the answers that I was so desperately needing.

Down the rabbit hole

A while later, I recieved an email from Wendy. The first line said, “Call me…This is a bit difficult to address via email.”

Shit. Shoot.

That’s just what I wanted to do. It was hard enough to email—now she wants me to call?!?!?

A few lines later, she gave me an assignment–sort of a ‘take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ thing, to do before I called her the next morning. She asked me to discover my Primary Question, which is the question we constantly ask ourselves, consciously or not. She also asked,

…and if you were to reframe the question now in a way that would make a drastic shift in the direction of who you know in your heart you were born to be – a new question that would forever lead you to more now rather than less, one that would be easy to embrace and to ask of yourself forever (and would make you feel great every time you asked it) – what would that question be?

For many of us, our primary question is usually a very disempowering one, because whatever questions you ask your mind, it answers. If you ask the wrong kind of question, you get the wrong kind of answers.

After spending that very sleepless night and an hour the next morning soul-searching, I discovered the half the answer. The question that I had always been asking myself was, “Who are you?…” Who are you to be doing this, trying this, saying this, acting like this? And my brain would always answer.


So, the next morning, it’s time to call—and I almost didn’t do it. I was still firing my question, and getting the same answer.

“Nobody. Nobody is interested in helping you. You don’t deserve it, you’re not worth it.”

But then, I asked another question of myself. One of hope, really. “What if I am worth it?” A glimmer, maybe. Just a faint chance. I pushed the last button in her phone number.

“I can’t believe I just did that.”

I want you to understand: I do not ask for help. Ever. The words of Paul Simon described me perfectly– “I am a rock. I am an island…A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.”

I don’t even know how long our phone conversation lasted. She took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Asked me questions, and listened to the answers I gave. Asked me more questions, and listened some more.

One of the things that she reminded me of is that we as humans never do anything without a purpose. We are always moving away from feelings of pain, and toward feelings of pleasure. When we consistently do something, or believe something, it is because at some level, we benefit from having that belief, value, or rule.

She reminded me that there are really only 6 basic human needs:

  • certainty/comfort
  • significance
  • growth
  • uncertainty/variety
  • connection/love
  • contribution

and that everything we do is connected to those 6 needs in some way.

We determined over the course of our conversation that I really had some conflicting values that I needed to attend to.

Sparing you the heavy details, she gave me an assignment to do:

  • list 15 empowering ways to give more love
  • 4-5 sentences about what love means to me
  • list my rules for what has to happen in order for me to feel love

(The following, by the way, has been a 3-day process. It didn’t just come flowing out.)

So I started a list. 15 ways. This is the way it started:
Celebration. Celebrate accomplishment, initiative, and the willingess to ‘go for it’–in a public way, to people I don’t know. Acknowledge to people that their hard work is noticed.

Appreciation. Appreciate the beauty in life that I had been overlooking. There is beauty everywhere, and I intend to be more open to it and aware of it.

Contribution. I am a knowledgeable, intelligent person. I have a lot of resources at my fingertips that would help me to do what I see as my highest purpose in life: helping others to be the best that they want to be. But if I am stingy with that knowledge, it does no one any good at all.

Empower. I hurt when the people around me are hurting. I intend now to offer empowering alternatives to what they are feeling, because I know there are alternatives. That they do or do not choose to see them as I do is none of my concern. But if a new approach to a challenge could have helped, and I didn’t offer it, what would I be?

Open up. Let other people in to my joys, successes, failures, trials and tribulations.

Love me. Acknowledge, affirm, accept—believe—that I am a divine creation, and I am not alone. I know that I can change that about me which does not please me or empower me, that I am a host for God rather than a hostage to my ego.

At that point, I blocked. How many different ways can you express love? A lot, I know, but this excercise wasn’t doing me the least little bit of good. I express love just fine, I thought. I help people who need help, without asking for anything in return.

So what was the object here? I sat on the porch for a while and thought about it. Then my eyes opened. I understood. I didn’t need 15 ways to express love, but 15 empowering ways to give love. Vast difference. Like night and day. You may not see the difference. A person can express love in any one of hundreds of ways. In fact, you have to. But if the ways you love are limiting you, the expression is empty.

These came relatively quickly:

  1. prioritize my life
  2. touch someone new every day
  3. practice what I preach
  4. ask for help
  5. make a true gratitude list and read it every morning
  6. compliment out loud
  7. love me, which will expand the love I can give to others
  8. be enthusiastic about life
  9. be more emotional
  10. go for it
  11. take time for the little things
  12. pay for value received
  13. acknowledge that others love me
  14. live beyond myself
  15. add to this list—look for new ways to give love

Those won’t mean a lot to you, and I’m not going to take the time to expound on each and every one of them. They do, however, mean something to me. Each and every one of them. They are things to do that, when I do them, will remind me that love is everywhere, if I only open my eyes to it.

Wendy also asked me to write down 4 or 5 sentences that describe what love means to me. Even though you see the resulting sentences below, make no mistake—this wasn’t easy at all. It was easy to be superficial, but I couldn’t do superficial. What did I really feel? Way down under?

  • Love means acceptance. It means taking the other person for who they’ve chosen to be, and what they’ve chosen to believe.
  • Love means that I feel a connection that defies description. I know when someone needs me, and they know when I need them.
  • Love means being able to live outside myself.
  • Love means forgiveness. It means that there may be times when those I love may do things I find objectionable, but those times have no significance, because I know that those I love are not perfect in themselves. There may be things that I say or do to the people I love, but they also understand that not everything I say or do is perfect.
  • Love means sharing. Sharing the ups, downs, the joys and happiness, failures and setbacks, good times and bad. It means not keeping all the qualities of life inside me, and it means being able to share those same things that those I love are experiencing.

My last assignment: answer the question, “What has to happen in order for me to feel love?”

I can’t begin to articulate what my rules were for feeling loved. Suffice it to say that they weren’t/aren’t very empowering. But that’s one of the objects of asking yourself questions like this. You may have set conditions and rules for feeling something that don’t even begin to make sense, for instance that there must be a physical relationship before you can feel loved. How dumb is that? Or that you need to be told, “I love you” several times a day. Are rules like that empowering? Not at all.

Oddly enough, this was the easiest thing for me to take care of. I just ‘felt’, I knew, that what I really needed to feel love was, simply, a connection. All that I really need is to feel some sort of bond with another person, and love is there.

When you have this enormous ridiculous ruleset for feeling loved, do you know how easy it is too feel lost and alone because of them? Once I decided that feeling a connection was all that had to happen in order for me to feel loved, I suddenly realized that an awful lot of people do love me. What an empowering revalation!

So now my journey is beginning yet again. Just going through this with Wendy has opened my mind up to new possibilities; places to explore within me that had been closed off for so long, because of the way that I thought.

I think this is the most valuable lesson I learned over the last few days, one that has drilled down all the way inside.

I am not alone.

I know that a lot of people are out there who are struggling, hurting. If I could find you, I’d take you by the hand and tell you, “You’re not alone. There are people who care and who will help you, if you only let them in to do it. Quit being a rock, quit being an island. Open up, just a little, and see that someone else cares. You don’t have to do it by yourself. You can’t do it by yourself. Trust me, I tried.”

I want any one who reads this to know that I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have, made it this far on my own.


Dear readers, if you’ve made it this far: If you feel you’ve hit the wall, that you have obstacles that you just can’t get around, under, or over, like I had, I urge you most emphatically to contact Wendy and avail yourself of her services. Anything you are asked to pay will pale in comparison to the value you receive from her. How many people can you say that about? Again, her website (one of several) is eMoms At Home.

So Wendy, this is for you.

Pick and choose whatever you want to use as a testimonial, or don’t use any. By your generosity, giving of yourself and your time, you’ve helped another person see a path through the darkness, because that is very literally where I was.

Thank you.


  1. says

    Tears! Gratitude! Joy!

    I honor you for your courage to email me, your courage to call, your REAL courage to see our conversation through to the end, and WOW – to write this post?! I am triplely impressed!!

    I loved the turning point when you realized the difference between expressing love and giving love – and when I saw your list of 15, I started crying seeing that you really got it.

    I’m as honored to know you as you are to know me dear friend! And THANK you for such a heartfelt post. I want to print it out and frame it! :)



  2. says

    Which reminds me…I really need to work on a print button and print CSS!

    I want people to understand, whomever may read it, that working with you that short time led me to places that I couldn’t have gone by myself. I just didn’t have the resources, despite the knowledge that I have. I just want people to know that there is help out there if when they need it.

    Sometimes it takes someone from the ‘outside’ to help you see the way; someone who can see the forest instead of the trees (that’s such a neat cliche, when you think about it!)

    Anyway, thanks, teach! I owe ya…

  3. says

    Steve – What an incredible journey and articulate capturing of that journey. It took great courage to do each and every one of the steps you took – from contacting Wendy, to sharing this with others.

    Wendy is a terrific person, and I appreciate having the privilege to witness the explorations that you did.


  4. says

    This was a good and brave story, Steve. Thank you.

    Learning to ask for, and accept help is one of the hardest things for a lot of us to do. Some of us still haven’t got the hang of it, and until we do, we’ll expressing love and not giving it.


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  2. […] But, like I tell Lady Glynis, I’m ignorant, not stupid. Sometimes I do open up enough to get the message, so when I start seeing things like Christine Kane’s Practicing Gratitude, and reading books like the Science of Getting Rich, which makes gratitude a centerpiece of creation, and now seeing Nneka’s series A Season of Gratitude and Steve’s powerful post on learning to give love, rather than just expressing it, even I start understanding. […]

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