5 ways we receive pushback when we share more of our authentic expression

If hiding is surviving, shining is thriving. Not from a place of ego, self-absorption, or grandiosity, but from a place of love and celebration. Love for who we be and the contribution we make simply by existing. Celebration & gratitude for the life & gifts we have been born with that when we share them with the world, our service becomes joy.


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Emily Johnsson
Nurturing changemakers for a whole world.

The thing we often crave more than anything else is to be seen for who we truly are, yet it’s also the thing that we are the most fearful of : deep down we believe that when people actually come to see us for who we truly are, they will find us unlovable and therefore reject and abandon us.

At the heart of it is a fear of not having enough or being enough. Of not belonging to our human family.

The hard truth is this: some people will.

Some people will reject and abandon us when we shine and share ourselves in our true colours. When we set boundaries. When we declare how we really feel and think about things. What we stand for and take a stand for.

Stepping out in our true colours can lead to significant shifts in our personal and professional relationships. Sometimes we may no longer recognise the people close to us.

Remember, in a loving and secure relationship there will only be celebration and joy when we share more of ourselves.

Micro aggressions, gas lighting and power-over tactics such as giving mixed messages or avoiding talking about how they really feel about you sharing yourself in a bigger way, are all done with the conscious or unconscious intention of minimising you and keeping you playing a role that serves them.

Any of these is always a sign that the person feels threatened and behaving in fear:

  • Jealousy and comparison come from a fear of not being enough and not having enough
  • Fear of abandonment (to be left behind if you go new places) comes from a fear of not being loveable
  • Fear of engulfment (that someone is going to ‘take over’) comes from a fear of not being seen or heard
  • Shame (fear of what others will think) comes from a fear of not belonging

Here are 5 examples of how jealousy, fear of abandonment and engulfment, and shame can express themselves in a personal or professional relationship when we step out to shine and share ourselves more fully. These are all based on the feedback from working with hundreds of changemakers, healers and creatives over many years, as they practised stepping out in their authentic leadership:

  1. Being told we are being egocentric, needing external validation or adoration when we simply want to, or do share our heart in a bigger way in service of others and our own wholeness. It could be in a group, on social media or by launching a project/ business/ website.
  2. Non-verbal communication indicating that we are seen as “too much”.
  3. Silent treatment: giving no response or acknowledgment when sharing about our latest heart-centred expression. Pretending they didn’t see or take note of our latest share/ project/ launch.
  4. Breadcrumbs: feeding you the occasional celebratory comment to make you believe they feel good about us shining brighter. These moments become dopamine hits for us which means that we stay in the relationship even though we are not fully celebrated for who we are.
  5. Being told that you are greedy and self-indulgent: perhaps they will tell us that we do such a good job and make such a great contribution in our current role or place in life: why do you need more? why do you need more self – expression? they may ask. All to keep the status quo that serves them.

Do you recognise any of them?
Have you ever experienced any of them or other types of pushback in either your personal or professional life?

Part of being willing to no longer hide is letting go of – to shed – people and contexts in our lives that were once our world. And that is also hard. Saying our loving no’s and loving people from afar can be a heartbreaking process. And yet a necessary one.

Having the courage to stand alone is, in fact, an essential part of authentic leadership. Because in that moment we are no longer afraid of losing everything in the name of being true to ourselves, we not only set ourselves free, but we also allow others to finally see us.

We allow the RIGHT people to see us.
Clearly. Fully.

Which means that we are far more likely to find deeper and more meaningful relationships than we’ve ever experienced before.

People who are open and ready to weave with us in loving, creative and supportive ways, in the knowledge that in the great web of life, there is room for us all to shine, thrive and express ourselves for both the benefit of all, and the sheer joy of it.

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About Emily & White Supremacy

Emily is a space holder and self-leadership coach to changemakers. She has over 20 years experience in the field of human development, learning and growth, and leads the coaching and consultancy company Wish Tree since 2011. Her work centres around wholeness – whole humans, whole communities, whole organisations, whole ecosystems. A whole world. Her changemakership is therefore dedicated to clearing distortions and fragmentations that relate to our perceptions of separation.

Emily has been exposed to and ‘sat with’ systemic issues around race, racism, privilege and injustice her whole life. She was born in Camden, London, in the late 1970s to a Swedish immigrant single mum and spent her first formative years in a highly culturally and ethnically diverse setting. As a baby, Emily and her mum lived in a bedsit in a shared house with a Black British family. Her first memory of Father Christmas was of him as a Bangladeshi man. Emily’s mum worked with refugee families and in Children’s Homes in inner city London, and since she had no access to child care opportunities, Emily joined her at work. For a while, Emily had an older Black British foster sister called Debbie. She was very often the only white child in the community of children of which she was a part.

Emily moved to Sweden with her mum as a child and as a teenager became involved with, and led, antiracism youth work in her local town through her school and council-initiated networks in the 1990s.

Her mum, who was active in the peace-and- environmental movement and who had been involved as an ally in the civil rights movement in the US on her travels there, introduced her to Black feminist and activist writers such as Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Audre Lord, and actively taught her about white privilege, white supremacy and the truth of colonialism. She was also taught about the importance of learning from Indigenous wisdom keepers in order to heal and evolve as humanity, and to (in those days) stop climate change.

In contrast, on her father’s side, Emily is of British Colonial descent. Emily’s grandmother was born in Zimbabwe to Scottish sheep-farmers. Her grandfather came from a poor English background but won a scholarship to Cambridge University to study law. As many young British men of his time who sought “adventure, a good job and travel”, Emily’s grandfather joined the colonial service in the final days of the British Empire, and served in several African countries as a high-ranking colonial officer. He spoke Zulu and Emily’s father spoke Swazi and Swahili before being sent to Britain as a child to attend boarding school, thousands of miles away from his parents.

Although Emily did not grow up with her father or his family, she eventually came to know them and have a relationship with them, which involved taking responsibility for understanding and healing her own familial and ancestral relationship to colonialism and white supremacy.

In this process, she came to see, feel and understand first hand and close up, the deeper psychological workings of the system of white supremacy, the colonial mind and its intimate links with narcissism, perfectionism, patriarchy and extractive economies and behaviours.

Between 2003-2015, Emily worked as a learning researcher and Access, Diversity and Inclusion enabler in the Arts & Cultural Sector, deeply rooted in the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Convention. She worked across the U.K and Scandinavia contributing to a number of large scale change projects, self-evaluation initiatives, conferences and trainings such as “Access for All”, “Inspiring Learning for All”, “Belonging – the Voices of London’s Refugees”, “The West Indian Front Room”, “Kultur och Fritid för Alla”, “Vidgat Deltagande”, “In this curriculum I don’t exist”, “In between two worlds – London teenagers’ ideas about Black History, Belonging and being British” to name a few. She worked with a wide range of marginalised communities as well as with leaders and directors holding white privilege, facilitating necessary and brave conversations challenging the status quo.

Emily has worked across many cultures and languages around the world from Sri Lanka to South Africa, Costa Rica and India to Romania and Denmark, continuously reflecting on and challenging white saviour tendencies. In this process has come to observe how white supremacy and racism works differently in different countries depending on context and history.

In 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Emily became a loud voice in the Wellness industry by calling in leaders bypassing white supremacy through ‘love and light’ rhetoric, exceptionalism, colourblindness and virtue signalling. She closed down several online coaching circles because white participants were unwilling to dive deeper into their own internalised white supremacy, and rendered the spaces not only additionally unsafe, but traumatising for BIPOC clients. Her platform and large facebook community for coaches and wellbeing facilitators centred BIWOC-led anti-racism conversations as a response.

Emily is a skilled and fiercely loving coach and space-holder with many years experience of creating safe spaces for accountability, healing, integration and growth to take place.

She is dedicated to her own ongoing learning, healing and unlearning of covert white supremacy. Examples of this are continuous learning from a wide range of anti-racism educators, authors and activists from around the world.

This bio has not been written with the intention of centring Emily in the context of Me & White Supremacy, but to transparently share about her background, values, skills and experience in order for you to make a conscious decision to choose her as a space-holder, or not.

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