Out of the Familiar Zone, Into Desire w/ Sierra Melcher

Updated: May 23

Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hi everyone! Welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. This is your hostess, Adrienne MacIain, and today we have Sierra Melcher. Welcome, Sierra, please introduce yourself.

Sierra Melcher 0:14

Thank you, I will. I'm glad to be here. I love, I love how normal it is to introduce ourselves, but how critical how we choose to do that is. And so I don't take that lightly. This is a podcast about stories, and the stories that we tell ourselves start at the very beginning. And the story of who we are we repeat all the time without even noticing how important it is, or if it's accurate.

Adrienne MacIain 0:54

Or we get very caught up in, like, how do I introduce myself? Like, what's important to other people? I get caught up in that all the time. When I go on podcasts and they ask me to introduce myself, and it's like, Do you want my bio? Do you want what I do? Do you want what I think my gift is? Do you want, like, what? What persona are you interested in? Because there's so many aspects to this.

Sierra Melcher 1:19

And every question you just asked yourself is a projection of What do you all want of me? What do you want me to be? How do I show up for you? And I think that looking at all the question from all of those perspectives is so important. I hold women's circles. It's one of the major things that I do. And what especially when there's new folks there, but also on a regular basis, I say introduce who you are today. Just check in with that for yourself, because you're not who you were when we were here last week. And who are you today gives you permission to be a total mess today without being a total mess tomorrow, or having it all sorted out today and then being a total mess tomorrow. Because it just makes space for us to be in-process.

Adrienne MacIain 2:20

I love that so much. I love that so much.

Sierra Melcher 2:24

Like, that is my introduction.

Adrienne MacIain 2:26

Yeah, because I just told you I just did this amazing meditation, which was the Daniel Bruce Levin's Trashman meditation where he just takes everything away from you that you think you are. And I wept and wept, just seeing everything that I hold dear sucked out of me and disappearing into this void. And just being empty for a minute and then letting the universe just fill me with everything that's really mine. And just feeling overwhelmed with this energy of gratitude. So that's where I'm at today is like, I'm feeling very new. I'm feeling very like a baby right now. And just allowing the universe to fill me and be just in learning mode, and just wanting to soak things up. And so you were the perfect person to talk to right after that. I'm reading your your book that you're working on, and that has been teaching me so much about the book that I'm writing too, and what it needs to have and what it...

Sierra Melcher 3:28

Which I'm reading.

Adrienne MacIain 3:29

Exactly. Just so much learning going on. So please, the first question that I have, and this is, I've changed it a little bit again, because I've emptied myself of everything that I thought I was and that this podcast was. I am a work in progress, this podcast is a work in progress, we all are a work in progress. So I'm going to change things up today, and this may be my new direction, we'll see what happens. But what is the story the world is not getting?

Sierra Melcher 4:00

And I'm so glad to be here with you right now, the baby you. I'm so glad to have this question, because this is a question that's been on my heart a lot. And it's, as a way of introduction, this is something that I've been playing with in different ways for a number of years. And my mission, maybe, if we can call it that, is really to change the global conversation about what it means to be human. So the story I think we're missing is a field on which to discuss, without even having an answer, what the hell is this life, this body? What does it mean to try to navigate, to find purpose, to find fulfilment, empowerment in the modern age? Like, what is it? Like, I'm a parent, of a five year old. What does it mean to procreate? Like, what is this life? And I think there's a lot of words happening in this conversation, but I do feel like we're missing the field on which to discuss. I think there's a lot of noise. And that's not to discredit some of the stuff that's happening, but there's just a lot of, I think there's something missing to ground us. I think the conversation is maybe a lot simpler than the discussions that are happening. And so I'm showing up in the world, I've written a couple of books towards this end, to sort of nudge people in the direction. My first book, 'How Change Really Happens,' because for years I called myself a holistic, transformational mentor, and no one knows what the hell that is. And that's okay. But everyone in the world is looking to learn and grow, yet how learning and growing happens, we're like, Oh, yeah, but I don't want to do it that way. I want to learn and grow, but it feels uncomfortable, so I'm going to skip it and try something else.

Adrienne MacIain 6:41

I just read that section where you talked about the little Ben and Jerry's magnet that says, "If it's not fun, why do it?" And it's so funny, because I had that exact same thing, and had the exact same experience of like, Wait, I'm just having fun, but like, my life keeps being not fun. What's that about? Funny thing, when you avoid your pain, and you avoid discomfort, growth doesn't happen, change doesn't happen, and you stay stuck in the not-fun, ironically. So I love that idea of how change really happens. I've done a lot of work on that. And learning how our brains work, learning how our hearts work, figuring out that to change something, first of all, you have to accept where you're at. You have to start from where you really are, because you can't change from someplace you're not.

Sierra Melcher 7:49

You can spend years trying though.

Adrienne MacIain 7:51

Oh, boy, can you ever.

Sierra Melcher 7:53

If you want to pretend that you're someone else and try to change that projection.

Adrienne MacIain 7:59

Uh huh. Let me know how that goes for you.

Sierra Melcher 8:03

Right? I think, I mean, I know that I, I think I've probably spent at least a decade doing that. I'm going to be so professionally disconnected from who I am. I'm just going to decorate the projection.

Adrienne MacIain 8:20


Sierra Melcher 8:20

Right? I'm going to do... and I, the clans that I work with, a lot of them, this comes up a lot. Like, maybe I should just get another degree? Maybe I should... I feel, I get these images a lot. It's sort of like we're in a cave, there's some shadow, like, there's a light and there's a shadow pictures, and we think that that's real. And we're like, well, if that projection of reality, then I need to be like that. And so we're making these decisions from these shadow projections, rather than, like you said, getting to know ourselves. Which, yeah, is terrifying and uncomfortable, until it's not. Until it's sort of fun. And until that same terror you're like, Ooh, terrifying. Let's do more of that. Right? Like, Ooh, this is rich, this is mookie, which I don't think is a word but I just made it one.

Adrienne MacIain 9:26

It is now. I like mookie.

Sierra Melcher 9:30


Adrienne MacIain 9:30

Go for the mookie stuff. Muck around in the mook.

Sierra Melcher 9:33

Right? I call it the messy middle. And this is just like, you've got between where you are, which you have to see first, between where you are and where you want to be. You have to see where you are, and be okay with, that's maybe not the right word, but like, acknowledging it, right? You have to, like, start where you are. Which ironically, not ironically, because everything is perfectly synchronized, last month training that I did in my community was called Start Where You Are. You have to get into, you have to get into the now. If you're navigating, if you're trying to make a map, which is one of the things I help my clients do, it's like, okay, where do you want to go? Okay, cool, fine. Are you sure you want to go there? That's not just somebody else's projection for you? Who are you? And then let's like, it's this back and forth? Where do you want to go? Where are you? Who are you? Are you sure you want to go there? Okay. Once we've got those two points, then lets map out a course. Most people don't know where they are and have a false perception of where they want to be. And like you said, wonder why it's not coming together?

Adrienne MacIain 10:53

Yeah. Or I've got this plan, and I keep banging my head against this plan, and it just doesn't seem to be working for me. I still end up someplace I don't want to be. Hmmm.

Sierra Melcher 11:09

Yeah, yeah. So, the story that I think we just need to come... To answer your question maybe in a phrase is, the story that's not being told is the story of how significant we each are, how much capacity, wisdom, knowledge, direction we all possess, for ourselves to live our fulfillment of the direction, whatever it is that we're seeking, we have all those answers. We have all that guidance. We have all that clarity. No one can give you the answers to those questions. No one can solve your relationship or fix your career or improve your health for you. And that's so contrary to the beliefs. We're like, No, look outside yourself, find an expert to do it for you, get another something that's then going to fix you. And it's not out there. No one else can figure out what your life is about. They can't.

Adrienne MacIain 12:30

But also sometimes it's about getting out of our own way. And like you said, letting go of this shadow vision that you've had, that you think is yours, that you believe to be you, but that is a construction based on so many other people's expectations, and the things you've had to do just to survive and get by with the limited toolset that you had.

Sierra Melcher 13:00

Yep. Not enough.

Adrienne MacIain 13:01

And so to actually get at those answers and that truth, which I completely agree is in there, you have to let go and clear out all that trash. Let the trashman take it away.

Sierra Melcher 13:16

Yeah. Well, and so for a while, I was like, this is the work that I'm called to do. But I believe that each person is their own expert. So am I irrelevant? Like, what? And I realized No, because we do, we need a guide to figure out who we are. Because it's not normal, because it's not universally accepted.

Adrienne MacIain 13:43

And because it's so hard to see from the inside.

Sierra Melcher 13:48

Oh yeah. Yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 13:49

I love to use this example, the metaphor of okay, so there's this old woman and she lives in a shoe. You've heard of her. But she has no idea that her home is a shoe. From her perspective, it's nice. It smells like leather in there, you know, and she's got these nice eyelet skylights, she has this comfy sole where she sleeps. But it's never occurred to her that it's a shoe because she's never stepped outside of it to see its shoe-shape. So from our perspective it's very obvious, Hey, you live in a shoe. But she needs someone from the outside to notice that and help her figure out, Oh, this is a shoe. Do I want to live in a shoe? I don't know.

Sierra Melcher 14:10

Yeah. I love something that you shared earlier, ties back in, when you were letting go of all the things you hold dear. From my own experience, and now from watching this for so many people, we actually hold dear our limitations.

Adrienne MacIain 14:56

Oh, god, yes!

Sierra Melcher 14:57

Hold dear our I can't do it, I'm not good enough, I'm not worthy. That stuff feels so familiar slash comfortable, because it's so familiar. It keeps us safe in this tiny little space. And so because of that we're like, But I don't want to let go of this totally crippling doubt in myself. I need this. And it's really scary to let that go and be like, Well, maybe I can.

Adrienne MacIain 15:36

That reminds me of another metaphor, which is...

Sierra Melcher 15:38

I love metaphors. We can just metaphor poker. See one, raise you.

Adrienne MacIain 15:44

Exactly! So, imagine you're in a straitjacket. Okay? Now, it's really difficult to get things done because your hands are tied around you. Right? But it feels so comfy, you're in this little warm hug. And every time somebody asks you to do something, you say, 'I'm sorry, I can't do that. I don't have--my hands aren't free. Sorry.' It's the perfect excuse. And you can't get out of it because it's a straitjacket. But of course you could get out of it, you could just ask someone to help you out of that thing. Right? And then you could do all kinds of things that you can't do now. But then that would mean that you need to learn how to do all these things that you've never done before because you've been in this straitjacket for so long. And that's very scary.

Sierra Melcher 16:33

Exactly. This is the fundamental paradox, and I write about it in both of my books, 'How Change Really Happens,' and the one that you're reading that's about to come out, 'Date Yourself.' We want to grow, we want to thrive, we want the next thing, we want love, and acceptance, and belonging. But to grow means to do something that you don't know how to do. And so being really bad at it, for as long as it takes, until you're not bad at it. But we're really bad at being bad at things. And so we try something, and we're like, Oh, I'm not good at it, so I'm not going to try again. Years ago now, I was a high school teacher, and that was sort of my first iteration of this. And I used to give this lesson. So I hear you 14-year-olds saying, Well, I'm just not fill-in-the-blank. Right? Everyone has those stories early on, and then we repeat them. And I said, Okay, I want you to imagine a baby. And the baby is new to everything. And this baby crawls and tries to walk and falls down. And if that baby said, Oh, well, I fell down, I'm not gonna try again, I must be bad at walking, then that baby would never walk. And we know that that's ridiculous. We know that that's ridiculous. Yet, we do this all the time. Whatever I'm bad at I'm not going to do, so I'm not going to get better at it, makes me right. For years I knew it but couldn't quite get out of it. I was like, I'd rather be right and stuck, because I'm in the known world, I want to know I can't do this, I can't do that, I can't do this, but I'm right, and I understand my world, than be wrong about any of those beliefs. And then have sort of the world open up for me would be uncomfortable. And so I've had to shift how I feel about discomfort, really transform, radically transform that. But also, I did it just a second ago, using the word familiar instead of comfortable. Because the things that are familiar, and the root of the word comes back to family, okay, so the things that are familiar are the things that we know. You can be really uncomfortable in the familiar, but choose the familiar over the unknown, even if there's comfort out there. But we're not willing to leave this. My mentor talks about it and that, sort of the dance when we're ready