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Wellness

Rip It Up and Start Again

Fear, shame and humiliation can prevent us from making big shifts in our life. But how would it serve us to start again?

By Sharmadean Reid

16 September 2023
O

ne might think that the path to wholeness is a clear and direct line, but it is almost always a series of conjoining circles looping up and hopefully to the right. With each loop, you must go down before ascending to higher heights. At the very bottom point of each loop is where you can decide to rip everything up and start again.

You have the choice. Burn it all down. Opt-Out. Smash it up. Don’t be afraid of radical reinvention. It is only through something dying that we can be reborn anew. Kill your darlings and watch as fresh possibilities emerge from the ruins. In this chaotic act of destruction, we find the seeds of transformation, the fertile ground from which the purest version of ourselves can flourish.

I have ripped it all apart in big ways and small ways. I am not afraid to take an axe to my life and build again from the ground up. All of the methods in this book have given me the tools to have no fear. My abundant mindset means I know I can always start again.

When you have that knowledge that you can always start again, destroying the familiar not only becomes something you are unafraid of but something you actually seek to do. Your life will have a series of chapters and you’ll start to instinctively know when it’s time to start a new one.

Kill your darlings and watch as fresh possibilities emerge from the ruins.

When I closed my first business WAH Nails, after 10 years of operating, it was a bold move. I knew I wanted to press forward with building software and at the time I didn’t have the bandwidth or the team in place to manage two businesses, so I shut it down. This was a defiant and seemingly crazy act. Even today people will still talk about the salon or share a memory of it, and while I do miss being a shopkeeper, I knew I couldn’t honor my goals by keeping it open. Ripping it all up meant that I no longer had that connection and domain authority in that world. I no longer was invited to beauty and fashion events, I was irrelevant. I had to start again. But that's ok because my loop was preparing for an upwards trajectory.

After an exciting start, including becoming the first Black woman to raise over £1m in venture capital in the UK, the pandemic forced me to burn down Beautystack. We had a few million pounds in funding in the bank and then, like so many other businesses around the globe, we couldn’t operate. For 14 months, no one in the UK could book beauty treatments. At the time, our start-up mentality and my inexperience in major world events meant I was not primed for planning. We could have done many things to survive, such as introducing video therapy and coaching but I was also in the midst of a collective trauma around race (George Floyd), gender (Sarah Everard) and health (Pandemic). When we had our fourth lockdown announcement I decided to end Beautystack and start The Stack World. The stress of these years took its toll on my mood and my body. I didn’t really want to rip it up but I also knew I had to act. It took me many many months to be okay with the decision, but I went ahead anyway, knowing my enthusiasm would catch up.

The Stack World proved to be a wise move, as my business endeavors and my personal mission got closer together through building a company designed to give women the knowledge and the network to lead. I’ve refrained from using the phrase “empowering women” because I don’t necessarily believe it’s possible for any one single entity to wave a magic wand and regift women the power that is already within them. So I focus on the small steps - the knowledge and the network. What we can do is share life changing intel that is typically behind closed doors and how can we connect you with a peer group so that you can grow together. In the first few years of the life of the business, I feel like we have made a significant impact in creating a brand and a community that is changing the perception of what a leader looks like. But the forward motion animal in me is already itchy on what is next?

As I close this arc of my life, what I am ripping it up is not totally external or visible, but it is a complete destruction in the role I play to myself and others, especially in regards to my work/life satisfaction. Like most humans, I want to be liked, I want to be dutiful and I want to be successful. But now I see a duty to myself and my wellbeing. My current view of success is very different and is about putting my creativity - not my productivity - at the forefront of my life. This means a period of downsizing. Not just in my material world but in my superficial power too. It might mean less holidays, less invitations, less accolades. It might mean getting off the start-up fundraising treadmill. It definitely means that just because I can do many things, doesn’t mean I always should. Starting over means saying no to the outside world to say yes to myself.

To rip it all up and start again requires courage—a willingness to confront the familiar and question its validity. Why are you sticking to your current lifestyle choices? Are they actually working for you? What does it mean to shed your identity? Who are you without your current social circle? What do your material possessions do for your status?

Sometimes it’s not that anything bad or uncomfortable is happening in our lives that requires us to rip it up, it’s just we are travelling at a constant speed and so we need to reject complacency. To me, coasting through life is the equivalent of walking backwards on a travelator. You are expending energy and time but you aren’t actually going anywhere. A rejection of complacency is a refusal to be confined by what feels safe. We must be unafraid to let go of the attachments that keep us in stasis, the beliefs that no longer propel us forward, and the relationships that allow us to fester.

Starting over means saying no to the outside world to say yes to myself.

In this process of radical reinvention, we shed the layers of societal expectations and external validations. We free ourselves from the weight of conformity and embrace the truth of our own desire. It is a reclaiming of our agency, a declaration that we are the architects of our own lives. You are designing your own life.

I’m under no illusion that the process is easy. Ripping it all up is not without pain, uncertainty, and doubt. Ripping can sometimes leave scars. I have cried and cried at my choices, before realising that the difficult path is the one that sends me to new heights. Doing this requires us to trust that something greater awaits us on the other side. It is a journey that demands unwavering determination. It requires unmovable boundaries.

When it is most painful is usually when it carries ego and shame and humiliation. You made a choice, you now want a different choice - what will everyone say? What will they think? As we tear down the structures that no longer serve us, we must also be willing to confront our own inner demons—the insecurities, the self-doubt, and the limiting beliefs that whisper in our ears, attempting to hold us back. I have always felt that I didn’t want to be labeled a failure. The word alone felt like a stink that I did not want attached to me. We must be brave enough to silence those voices. They’re not the ones living your life so why should their 10-second comment affect your next ten years?

It is a reclaiming of our agency, a declaration that we are the architects of our own lives. You are designing your own life.

In this process of destruction and rebirth, we discover our true power—the power to define ourselves, to create our own narrative, and to live authentically. We do as we please. We realise that the external world does not hold the key to our happiness and fulfillment; self development is an inside job.

The act of ripping it up and starting again, of letting go of what we once held dear, is a physical embodiment of our growth and evolution. It is a recognition that change is not only inevitable but necessary for our personal and spiritual development. Can you allow yourself that recognition?

We learn to detach ourselves from the outcomes, embrace the impermanence of life, and find beauty in the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. Louisa May Alcott said it beautifully, "I make so many beginnings there never will be an end." I created a family signet ring with exactly this sentiment. Under a leopard, holding the Jamaican flag no less, are the words REGENERATIO. Rebirth. A constant reminder of my ability to start again.

We realise that the external world does not hold the key to our happiness and fulfillment; self development is an inside job.

So, my New Methods Women, do not be afraid to destroy it all. Give open arms to the chaos, the uncertainty, and the discomfort that accompany this process. Trust in your own resilience, in your capacity to rebuild and redefine yourself. In the act of destruction, you will find liberation. In the ashes, you will discover the seeds of your own rebirth. And in embracing this transformative journey, you will get closer and closer to that elusive feeling of contentment that you have been seeking all along.

The Short Stack

In this process of destruction and rebirth, we discover our true power—the power to define ourselves, to create our own narrative, and to live authentically.

By Sharmadean Reid

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