one more post on the expert thing.

i notice that many women want to teach about or speak about or write about something, but think they can’t do that until they’ve mastered the thing themselves.

it sounds something like this: “i want to help women who struggle with overeating, but how can i do that when i still struggle with overeating sometimes myself?”

“i want to help mothers create more order in their busy lives, but can i really do that when i get slayed by overwhelm and chaos in my own life sometimes?”

or it sounds like this:

i help women who struggle with overeating, but lately i find myself lapsing into my old overeating patterns. now i feel like a total fraud when i’m helping other women with this. how can i help other people when i’m flailing myself?

i want to invite you to think about it differently. the old model, the patriarchal model, the hierarchical model taught you this: there are students, and there are teachers. put yourself in the role of teacher and that means you’ve got all the answers. you are the authority. and naturally, you’ve got it down yourself.

here’s the new model, the post-patriarchal model, the model for our age: there is a sea of souls. each soul is called to to particular questions. those questions will be asked again and again, explored, traversed over and over, through the life experiences of the person who houses that soul. their struggles, their trials, their big ahas and awakenings, are diverse explorations of their soul’s few key questions. they are refractions of the questions the soul keeps circling, keeps being in conversation with.

for a soul that is drawn to the question: “how do we heal?” there will be many experiences of wounding, and sickness, and healing, and not healing – in their own life, in the lives of their loved ones. again and again the plot of life will come to them with these experiences.

and for a soul that is drawn to the question: “what is trustworthy? where can i trust?” there will be again and again experiences of the dance with trust. experiences of betrayal and of abandonment. experiences of the ground falling out beneath them, experiences that push them to dig deeper and deeper to find the very meaning of trust.

along the way, if it has the opportunity to have any choice about the kind of work it does each day, the personality, the soul’s bodysuit, will feel pulled to make its career an exploration of these questions too. for the soul is hungry to answer its questions and wants to use all the energies of its fleshy self – mental, physical, creative energies – to dive into its questions.

that is why, in part, work can feel soul-full or soul-less – because the soul shows up most fully for work that speaks to the questions it is here to explore. the soul shows up for work that touches upon the themes it came here dance with, to encircle, again and again.

so along the way the person whose soul questions are about healing will find themselves drawn to do work that has something to do with healing. and depending on their life circumstances and the nuance of their specific questions, that call make take shape as helping a ocean heal from an oil spill or helping elderly women heal from loss. it might take shape as helping oceans heal from oil spills and then, in the next decade, helping elderly women heal from loss. it might show up in helping to develop medications that heal, or it volunteering for a local mediation organization. the soul will find a theatre, a play, for dancing with its questions.

much of the time, it’s hard to see from a distance what questions a soul is really exploring through it’s career. a professor of 19th century literature who wrote his dissertation on the representation of war in 19th century novels might really be exploring his soul’s questions about violence and peace – questions his soul is also circling as he tries to make sense of the violent bullying he experienced as a child.

most of the time, the conscious mind doesn’t know this is why it’s drawn to particular work. it just feels the pull. it makes up reasons sometimes, to help itself feel comfortable, rational. and most of the time, the conscious mind doesn’t see the thread between the experiences that show up in our personal lives. we are too busy reacting, looking at those life events through the prism of ego’s desires, experiencing them mostly in terms of the comfort or discomfort they bring. but it is possible, if you look and listen closely, to recognize the big questions that your soul is here to dance with.

and so, as it turns out, when we are doing the work we are most called to do, we are not asked to “have it down perfectly.” we are not asked to be beyond the struggles we teach about. we are, whether we like it or not, living the questions. circling them again and again. struggling with them in very core of our lives.

and so it goes. the soul quests after its questions – through “work,” through personal experiences, and through dreamtime. i know you feel it — that when you sleep, your soul visits shimmering places and gathers golden shafts of wheat, food for the work on its questions. and so it goes.




photo: from the Realm of the Red Rose

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Brenda says:

    Tara, this is something I struggle with in my work as a therapist and coach to help my clients get out of their own way. And many times as they describe their situation I want to stand up and shout, “I am going through that very thing!” Right now. In fact, I don’t quite know what to do about it. I knew in my heart that it was okay and would allow me to be more open and responsive to their plight..but to read in your soothing words…that is something else..thank you for all you share and all you do to make the world better…Warmly,Brenda Strausz

  • Cyndi Lee says:

    Love this! I just wrote a book about yoga and body image and revealed that i am on the journey to self-love. Every interviewer keeps asking me if I have solved the issue. Of course, I have figured out some things but it is an on-going process. Thanks for reminding me that is part of the gift.

  • Ali Shapiro says:

    I love this. It reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes by Rainer Marie Rilke about loving the questions themselves as one day, we can live into the answers. But not necessarily now.
    I cannot wait for a more post-modern patriarchal world to surface!

  • Tara, this is so illuminating! I find it hard to remember sometimes that there’s a larger organizing principle in the world that the one my ego understands. My soul does understand it, though. Goes back to the trust of following your calling, however it presents itself.

  • Our life is a journey of things up and down. I try to mentor a few people in my life. You do the best you can with people you are with and yourself. If we fall we ge up and dust our selfs off an move to the next task.
    I have encountered a lot of negetive people in my life. It has left me very positive and very strong.
    So keep up the good work and may you do the best you can every day.

  • Jeanne Tierno says:

    Tara – thank you. I keep reading this over and over, it simply resonates so strongly with me. It just shines.

  • Carmen says:

    Thanks Tara! I loved reading this perspective. It’s empowering to think that the travails we face in our work or challenges we are drawn to aren’t an excuse to give up. It’s not that we aren’t up to the task or should be an expert. These experiences may be happening as it’s something our soul wants to learn about so we can feel empowered to go on the journey just as we are.

  • You have an uncanny ability to reach down into that dark place and pull out what matters most. This most recent post regarding the “expert” thing hits to the core. I felt recognition in those words. I know what it feels like to keep going over and over the questions and the insane quest to find the answers. I thought I was poorly educated and that is why I could not get over the hump of misunderstanding. Now I see that this is not my private lack, that it could be my calling to embrace my nemesis and to name it, to claim it and to love it because it comes from my soul. And one great way to do this is to share it with others, showing the bald spots as well as the glory. Thank you Tara.

  • I love this, Tara.

  • Olivia says:


    This is so timely! Thank you. This is so much bigger and deeper than recognizing we don’t need to be the experts (which I have on mental repeat some days).

    Had did you come to see or understand it in this way? I’m really curious about your process or journey. This framing helps me understand why I come to the same issues every couple of years–and helps me accept this not as a flaw or failure on my part, but as a learning journey, which I can draw from to serve others.

    Thank you.

  • Jennifer says:

    Wow. This really spoke to me. I must have been nodding my head the entire time I was reading it. Thank you for putting into words what I feel so strongly in my heart.

  • Mijanou says:

    Beautifully articulated. Such an important point to bring to the light. Thank you for your wonderful insights!

  • This brings tears to my eyes, Tara. I really need a good cry. You don’t address something so intrinsically rooted with gusto and mercilessness. You instead take quite the opposite approach, one that is gentle and compassionate and understanding…to say the least. I needed that validation. Thank you. I am so glad to have encountered you through Brigitte Lyons’ podcast.

  • tiffany says:

    well all i came to say is a big AMEN. thank you, Tara. this is so right on time for me, and explains a lot. you truly are a speaker to the soul, and i am grateful for your contribution.

  • I can so relate to this one Cyndi Lee, as a yoga practitioner and teacher….I travel the world in my ‘imperfect’ body with all its processes and inquiries….and I watch as folk look at me (my body) and think their thoughts 🙂
    Thanks Tara for writing this x

  • This is, as always Tara, perfection in its timing. Bless you. It shines for me as a beacon as I step into facets of my work-life-journey here that reflect things front and foreground right in my face. Things arise, sometimes intensely, and it is my opportunity to experience, to learn, that which I came to encounter, to experience and to learn. With loving compassion for myself. Folk expect if I ‘teach’, if I write books, if I step on a podium,I am an “expert” (I get called this all the time and it irks me); when in fact what I am simply doing is sharing my experience, the quiet author-ity of my own direct experience.

  • Hayley says:

    this is exactly what i needed to read today, tara.
    thank you, my soul to yours.

  • Karen Steele says:

    Such a wonderful article Tara, really touched the heart of the work I do with working moms who are trying to start their own businesses so they can have more freedom and flexibility for their kids. This is one of the big issues that comes up during the process and I love the way you have described and approached it. So very powerful, Thank You!

  • Kim says:

    I agree with all of the posters here, Tara, in that this post feels so right to me – speaks to my soul as some have said. I love the visual of a sea of souls. We’re all here to help each other in some way (and help ourselves at the same time). I am still wondering about my question but it has something to do with how we connect with each other and nature at a deep and empathic level. Thank you for sharing your soul.

  • says:

    How well you write. How precious to read with someone who identifies with the circling journey of deeper soul work. Thankyou

  • Sanity123 says:

    We no longer live in a patriarchal world. We live in a world where equality does not exist for men and in a world where many believe that there is something “wrong” with the masculine. Viva la difference!

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