The most profound question I’ve ever been asked

NewsletterAshley Stahl

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Who protects you?
 
My heart stopped when a woman in my business group asked this question.

I felt a tear roll down my cheek, and chills flutter across my body.

I lost my words, and my eyes went completely vacant… I just sat and listened to all the women around me replying:

“So many people protect me… My house flooded while I was out of town, and my CFO—a lovely woman—went and handled the whole thing! I came home, and it was like it didn’t happen.”

“My boyfriend totally protects me. Once he beat up this guy in a bar, who grabbed my ass.”

Why does this question still choke me up as I type this note to you? It reminds me of a quote from New York Times best-selling author, Jen Sincero, “No matter what you say you want, if you’ve got an underlying subconscious belief that it’s going to cause you pain or isn’t available to you, you either A) Won’t let yourself have it, or B) You will let yourself have it.”

To me, the person who protects you is the one who reminds you of who you truly are when you just so happen to forget.

They’re the person who loves you so much that they’re willing to tell you like it is. They’re willing to risk the comfort of your relationship for the sake of being radically honest, for the sake of holding you to the standard of being your truest Self.

I thought of when my best friend needed to go to rehab years and years ago.

She clawed the ground, breaking her nails as I physically dragged her through the front doors of her parent’s house, screaming ruthlessly at me that she hated me.

“I love you more than you will ever understand.” I replied in a muted voice, breaking down a little more every time she shouted, “and I hate every single person who ever handed you a drug.”

Every word out of her mouth penetrated my soul in a way that I thought I’d never heal.

…But if not me, who? Who would protect her?

So I abdicated my attachment to her loving me because I was too busy loving her unconditionally to need her approval. I was too committed to reminding her of who she is. And I knew rehab would do it.
At times like this, remember, “Your job isn’t to know the how, it’s to know the what and to be open to discovering, and receiving, the how.” –Jen Sincero
 
(Fast forward a decade, and she’s now a Ph.D. helping addicts with their recovery.)

…And back to the business group, where I sat as this heavy memory washed over me.

So much compassion came up inside of me for that 20-year-old me who was there for her friend— I was willing to burn down in flames for that friendship, knowing that I was protecting her in the only way I knew how.  
                                                                                  
So, WHO protects you?

My brothers protect me—I could write for days about both of them. My older brother Robby keeps me accountable to who I am; my little brother Josh is my 3 am phone call.

To love someone is one thing; to protect them is sacred.

Know who protects you. And trust them when you can’t see.

Love you,

Ash

P.S. For more great advice from Jen Sincero, Check out her book: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.

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