Just as the serpent sheds its skin, we too can shed the skin of our beliefs, roles, and identities. Entrepreneur Jesse van der Velde shares what he has learned from the Q’ero shamans and sacred plant medicines. Join Jesse in exploring yourself and your business:
- Who are YOU if you shed the roles that you play in life?
- Why do you cling to all the layers of identity you have adopted?
- Are you willing to let go of everything you believe about yourself and the world?
Click here to listen to the episode on Spotify.
After years of bullying, I built an entire life and identity hinged on the need to be seen. It wasn’t until I saw this need reflected within me that I understood how deeply I had buried my truth. We live identities and realities within ourselves unconsciously, creating layers around ourselves that keep us from accessing our true selves. We spend our lives wondering, “Who am I?” But merely asking the question will not offer any answers. In order to discover our core truth, we need to be willing to face the layers of identities, beliefs, and roles that we have built over our lifetime. We need to be able to face these layers and lovingly shed them like the serpent sheds its skin.
Life is Teaching Us the Opposite
Life is always teaching us through reflections – through the opposite of everything we see and experience. Think about it:
- The way that we are taught to love ourselves is by others NOT loving us.
- The way that we are taught not to judge ourselves or others is through others judging us.
Let’s take the example of love. Let’s say there is a child who isn’t loved – maybe they aren’t loved by their mother or father. This child will likely grow up to be an adult who goes through life looking for love from other people.
Essentially, that person is looking for something they could not find within themselves – and this is something many of us do unconsciously.
If we can’t find something within ourselves, we are unconsciously driven to seek the thing we lack.
Say that same love-seeking adult gets into a relationship but does not feel the love they are looking for, or maybe not enough.
That person feels sadness at first, but then learns how to express the conflict: “I don’t feel loved by you.”
Yet no amount of external love will ever satisfy the love that person is seeking within.
This situation is there to teach us the opposite: we seek the very thing that is within us.
The Perfect Match
As I shared in another episode, I was bullied for many years in elementary school and high school. I wasn’t seen for so many years, and for that reason, I didn’t feel seen. More importantly, I couldn’t see myself for who I was.
Or maybe I didn’t see myself enough and that’s why they didn’t see me and that’s why I was bullied?
Regardless of what came first – I developed the need to be seen after 20 years of not being seen. And in many ways, this was a fruitful seed that led me to become successful for the following 10 years – to achieve things; to achieve goals; and to build a big business.
In my path to success, I found a mentor and a business partner who I bought a business with. I looked up to him so much because he was so successful in what he had done. He had built a 100 million-euro-a-year business, which was ironically the exact type of mentor I had been looking for for years. For years I said, “I want to have a mentor who has built a 100 million-euro-a-year business so I can learn from him.”
Through the law of Attraction, our paths crossed and we acquired this business together. And through this partnership, so many things happened.
Yet, it took me seven years to realize one of the biggest learning lessons of my life: The only reason why I needed a mentor was because I thought I needed a mentor.
The reason why we were a perfect match was because I was afraid to show myself to him.
I was afraid to speak out.
I was afraid to stand up for what I believed in – for what I thought needed to be done in the business.
I was afraid to stand up for what I thought was the right strategy.
I was following his ideas, despite the fact that I was the leader in this business – it was my initiative.
The business needed my creativity, heart, and vision. And in his own way, he was pushing me to lead from my heart and stimulating me to follow my visions.
But I couldn’t do that because I was so afraid that I would fail and lose his recognition.
He was the perfect match for me: as is typical with the universe – I was presented with the complete opposite of what I needed to learn – a reflection of what was inside: I needed to learn to see myself.
When we are faced with conflict in our outer world, we then face struggles in our inner world. At this point, we should always ask:
- What is this a reflection of?
- What is the mirror of getting here?
- What is life presenting to me?
- How can I look within?
The conflicts we encounter within ourselves are opportunities to see a reflection of what is inside and to then love and acknowledge ourselves – to believe in ourselves. And to let go of the stories and beliefs that we wear like a skin covering our truth.
Only when we let go of all the layers of our skin – the way that the serpent does who sheds his skin – can we start finding our true selves.
The Serpent & Our Layers
On the Q’ero shamanic medicine wheel, the archetype of the Southern point is the great serpent. Shamans ask the great serpent for its energy – to help us shed our past the way it sheds its skin.
“Help me shed my beliefs the way you shed your skin; help me shed my roles and identities that I’m carrying; help me shed my attachments the way that you shed your skin; Help me see and understand how I’m attached to certain beliefs and identity and story about the past – the story that serves me and gives me feelings about myself that I like. How is that story limiting me?”
Everything that we identify with isn’t our true self; it’s an identification.
Every role we identify with; every belief; every idea – they are all layers disconnecting us from our true self. They are our own serpent skin.
Burn the Layers
We are so attached to our layers – the skin – of the identities we have built: in order to feel a certain way and to be seen a certain way.
When I challenged my own identities after spending 10 years of carefully crafting those identities – I faced a lot of fear. Everything and everyone I knew were part of this identity – and the fear that set in was: Who am I if I let go of this identity?
- Would my business survive?
- Would my friends still like me?
- Would my wife still love me?
There is an emptiness that comes with removing our identities – and we need to be willing to embrace that emptiness: the emptiness of the infinite.
Fire is our connection to the infinite: fire goes up in flames, up into the sky, and dissolves into the infinite. When we find the willingness to let go and step into the emptiness of the infinite, then we can start to learn and experience our infinity.
The only way that we find that connection to our true selves is by the willingness to let go of those layers and attachments – to burn them even. To put those attachments into a fire and sit with the fire; to inhale deeply; to connect with what it is that we are so desperately holding onto.
I recommend creating a small fire ceremony for yourself to awaken this self-discovery.
Create a Fire Ceremony
Create a fire ceremony by lighting a simple candle or making a small fire.
Begin by closing your eyes and connecting with your breath. When we use our breath and inhale – we connect to the most vulnerable parts of ourselves: to the part of ourselves that doesn’t feel seen or is afraid to stand up. We breathe, and through our breath, we connect with it.
Inhale deeply, and consciously send the breath to that part of yourself that you don’t like – to those emotions you don’t like.
Ask your higher self – your guides:
- What is it that’s living inside of me?
- What is this a reflection of?
- Help me see.
Feel what comes up and give it space. Say: “I’m going to let go of this. Help me let go of this part of myself.”
Observe what arises and as you exhale, blow it into a small piece of wood or paper.
Place that wood or paper into the fire and consciously give it to the infinite – let it go.
Feel how your energy changes with that – feel how it changes inside of you.
Maybe you feel something immediately, maybe you don’t.
Just observe – don’t try to force or push it away. Don’t have an expectation of what you should feel or experience. Simply observe what is – it is the only thing you can truly do in life.
When there is inner conflict, you are faced with two choices – you can think and act as an achiever, choosing to ignore the conflict and to be “BIGGER” than your problems. To decide to “step up” and solve the conflict.
While this response may feel ambitious and “correct,” it is just another way to ignore what is living inside of us. It is merely a reaction; not a true choice.
Even if you say, “Sure – I get it. It’s time to pause and look within…let’s figure this out…” Even if you want to jump straight into discovering your truth – it won’t work.
We first have to go through all the layers of who we are not – the layers of beliefs, roles, and identities we have built ourselves. This is hard to do solely from the mind – in fact, it is impossible.
You can only do this when you patiently face the parts within yourself that you don’t like.
Because you cannot force your growth just like Mother Earth cannot be forced. Just as you cannot control the universe, you cannot control your life.
You must take time to do the inner work and let the layers dissolve naturally.
Our time on Earth is a big experiment and we have subconsciously created the layers that we identify with. We must take the time to patiently face the parts of ourselves that are not ours and lovingly let them go.