Unsticking from Story
with Katharina Reed

How many times have you heard yourself say in frustration, ‘I can’t’ or ‘it’s too hard.? Have you ever thought or even said out loud some variation of ‘I’m not enough’? I have. All of them. And in 2019 I saw how it was holding me down, holding me back and how my attitude was really circling the drain. Through that dark period, I learned just how many women feel this way – and a good many men – and you know what? It’s not serving any of us. If none of us feel like we measure up, what standards are we actually trying to live up to? I started digging deep and with a lot of work on myself, my attitude has changed. My inner dialogue has changed, my language has changed and now I’m able to see how this self-limiting attitude affects others. Not to say that my journey is complete – not by a long shot – but I can finally feel good about where I am on this road.

We all tell ourselves stories, whether we realize it or not. We have all internalized ideas about what we are capable of and who we should be in the world. Some of these stories are positive and propel us forward. Others serve to protect us and keep us safe – and may not serve us. While preparing to write the introduction for this episode, I happened to be browsing Instagram and came across the following quote by Amy Poehler: “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry about.” That rings true.

My guest today is Katharina Reed, whom I met over a decade ago as a birth educator in the Halifax birth community. Katharina is a mother, a grandmother, social neuro evolutionary, a luminary, a guide, a story listener, and a storyteller. She has been supporting women, particularly mothers, for over 35 years. Katharina has recently returned to Nova Scotia after nearly three years living in Australia where she became a grandmother for the first time. Having experienced a transformative event with the birth of her granddaughter. Katharina is filled with a renewed mission to work with women 35 years and over who are interested in lifting themselves up and live a journey of shedding self limiting beliefs and intergenerational stories, both conscious and unconscious, to heal past traumas, to become aware and to live our potential. To support unsticking from her own story, she trained with Caroline Myss (www.myss.com), who is herself a renowned speaker in the field of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy, medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Caroline uses archetypes to help individuals identify their story, how it is serving them positively, negatively, and how we can use them to write a new story for ourselves. Katharina shares the story that led her here and how it has shaped her work and inspired a new business supporting women on their own journey.


Katharina: Well, first of all, I want to say I’m really passionate about story. Story has always been a part of my life. My father was an incredible storyteller. I grew up in a family that was financially, you know, we didn’t have a lot of money, financially challenged, and so we didn’t have access to lots of story books and things like that. And, but we didn’t need them because my father was an incredible storyteller and I have so many memories of sitting around the campfire heater in the evening in our living room. And my dad would tell us stories and it was just such a rich, rich experience to, to have that every day in my life, especially in the winter months. That was the, that was the evening routine. And I also grew up in the Ojibwa culture. And so of course in the native culture story is a very much of, of their way of life, and stories are used for teaching tools. One of my archetypal patterns there is a teacher. And so story is a way that I teach because it’s a very gentle way and it’s not invasive to tell somebody a story because you’re just sharing a story and they can take from it what they need to take from it. And so story has been one of my greatest teaching tools and it’s also been one of my own personal learning tools. I learn so much from listening to people’s stories. So at present my focus is on intergenerational stories, because of healing my own intergenerational story, which I will talk about a little bit later. And so an intergenerational story is just simply a story that is passed down through the generations. So there are many stories passed down through the generations and some of them are absolutely beautiful and we would never want to do anything to stop sharing them because there are certain traditions, there are cultural stories, there’s skills, there’s talents, there’s family life stories. And those are all stories that are part of who we are and part of our tapestry. And they enrich it. And it’s just so beautiful.

But the ones that have my attention are the ones that disempower and keep us small. And these stories have common patterns that are so ingrained that they’re unconscious. To us, they’re just normal. We don’t even think about them. We’re not even aware of them a lot. Lots of times we’re not aware of them. And so one of the most common patterns that I see is “I’m not enough”, especially in women. Men feel it, but they don’t admit it or talk about it because they’re busy proving to themselves that they are enough. But women, I hear it all the time and, and I have many, many people tell me, ‘Oh yes, I’m aware of that story. I see it all around me. It drives me crazy. But that’s not my story. I don’t have it. I don’t subscribe to that story. I don’t live by that story.’ And yet when I’m in conversation with them, I hear it in their language and I see it in their actions and, and I am so aware of it, but they’re not aware of it because they just, they can’t see it. It’s unconscious. They can’t see it in themselves, they can only see it in somebody else. And so the big key in that is if we see something in somebody else and it rubs us and it irritates us, then it’s in us. And it’s something that needs to be addressed. And that’s you know, that that’s really, really important. And then there’s another phrase that is connected to this, not enough story that I often hear and I, it is, ‘I can’t do this because’, and there’ll be a myriad of reasons, ‘I don’t know enough. I don’t have enough education and I don’t have a certification in that area.’

April: The imposter syndrome.

Katharina: And I’m sure you’ve heard that many times. And people…

April: Yes, definitely. I’ve heard myself say it many times.

Katharina: Yes. And so that phrase is connected to the not enough story. And what it is, is we don’t feel worthy. And so there’s a big difference, and I’m, I’m sure that you felt this in your life. There’s a big difference between when we say, ‘I choose to not do that because it doesn’t feel right for me at this time’, versus the energy of ‘I can’t do that because I’m not enough. I don’t know enough’. This is so deeply ingrained and the need to prove self. I can’t tell the number of times that I served women in the birth community where they were looking at their birth, isn’t the birth of their baby is an opportunity to prove something about themselves, to prove that they were a woman, to prove that they were strong, that they were capable, to prove to something, to someone in their family, to prove something to their doctor. It was just so fascinating to me. And of course when we have the agenda and we set out to do something and to prove something, invariably there’s a lesson that pops up in the experience that we’re having to help us heal that part of ourselves. And unfortunately in birth it’s often a trauma. I really, I was really aware of that in my birth work. And so I really, when I heard that in my client’s language, I’ve really worked with them to help them shift the energy around that so that they could experience their births differently. The other word that is connected to not enough that we don’t often make the connection to is the use of the word ‘hard’. ‘I can’t do that because it’s too hard’. ‘Oh my goodness. It’s so hard.’ ‘It is so hard to be a mother.’ ‘It Is so hard to be in labour.’ ‘It is so hard to give birth.’ ‘It is so hard to do this.’ And that – is the reason we find it so hard is because we don’t feel enough to be able to handle the tasks that we are being challenged with.

April: Oh, isn’t that fascinating?

Katharina: I did a little experiment with language because I believe in the power of words. My teacher, my teacher Caroline Myss was big on the power of words. And so I, for myself thought, I’ll not use the word ‘hard’, I’ll use the word difficult, but the word difficult has the same energy as the word hard. It’s just a different word. But it has similar energy. So then I changed it to the word ‘challenge’ and I trained myself that I would not use the word ‘hard.’ I would use ‘challenge’ because I love a challenge and to me a challenge is about expansion and growth because ‘challenge’ is an opportunity to grow, not to prove anything, but to just grow and expand. And so I did that and that felt really good. And then I thought, ‘Oh, I wonder if I can take that further. I wonder if I can do more, if I can bring more power by using another word?’ So now I’m choosing to use the word ‘opportunity’ instead of something being challenging. It’s an opportunity, it’s an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to stretch beyond what I’ve considered possible for myself. So that’s been a fun experiment.

April: Have you seen a shift since you changed that language?

Katharina: Oh my goodness. I have the courage to do things that I even five years ago would not have had the courage to do.

April: Wow.

Katharina: Like for instance, showing up live on Facebook.

April: Yup. Yes.

Katharina: Something that sounds so simple I wouldn’t have done five years ago. Well I might’ve, but it would have been with tremendous fear and now it’s fun. I might not be good at it, but I’m learning and growing. But it’s fun. I love it.

April: Yeah. Progress – progress not perfection – is a, is a term that came up in just a previous episode about gratitude journaling. And I’ve started using that one because I personally get caught in the, ‘if I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it.’ And so I’m trying to tell myself it’s okay. It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to be on Facebook live without your makeup on. It’s okay to, you know, show up imperfectly and make progress.

Katharina: Definitely. And it’s okay if you make a mistake.

April: And it’s okay if you make a mistake.

Katharina: You use the wrong word. So what? The world’s not going to end.

April: That’s right. Yeah.

Katharina: So yeah, I’m totally with you there and good for you because that perfection, which is also a trait that I’ve worked with very, and still, working with to heal in my life. That’s a part of the ‘not enough’ story. And there’s another part of the not enough story that we often don’t think about either, and that’s belonging. We all want to belong. We try to make ourselves fit in certain groups or in certain social circles or whatever in our family because we want to belong. Because we don’t feel enough to just be ourselves. And so that, that’s huge as well. So these are just a few examples of one of the multitude of stories passed down unconsciously through the generations.

April: Yeah. And I think probably every person can relate to that in some level. On some level, male, female, everyone.

Katharina: Okay. So here are a couple interesting statistics because I know you like statistics.

April: I do.

Katharina: And so by the time we’re 35 years old, 35 that’s it. By the time we’re 35, 95% of our mind is a set pattern of memorized behaviours, actions, thoughts, beliefs, and emotional reactions. In other words, 95% of what we do and the decisions that we make are unconscious.

April: Huh. Wow.

Katharina: We’ve been programmed by the time we’re 35 years old. So if we’re programmed by our generational stories of not being enough, you know what that means, we’ve got 5% of our mind available to change it.

April: Wow.

Katharina: 5% of our mind to be creative, to create something new, unless we start to wake up that 95% because 5% isn’t much to work with.

April: So how does one do that?

Katharina: Well I can I just address that just a little bit?

April: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yes, please do.

Katharina: And then, then it can flow here and, and then maybe people will be able to see the process. I’m a big process person. And the other statistic is this, this is huge, that the majority of people that have 70% of their lives in survival energy that’s living in the energy of the first three energy centers. So our, our root chakra, you know, our second chakra, third chakra, so below the waist, we’re living below the waist. And one of the biggest survival stories in living in this survival energy is ‘it’s all about me.’ ‘How does this serve me?’ And when we live in survival energy, it, we always have a hidden agenda that’s about us. Everything we do is about us when we live in survival energy. So I’m sure you’ve had the experience of showing up in a meeting and you can soon see that there’s many agendas in the room and nothing gets accomplished at the end of the meeting because everybody is trying to get their own personal agenda served.

April: Yeah. Yes.

Katharina: That’s survival energy.

April: Wow.

Katharina: And so to continue with that, there’s four archetypal patterns that support that survival energy and support us living in that survival state, which is exhausting and is the is what contributes to many of our diseases. And it’s what contributes to our stress. And just to define what an archetypical what an archetype is or what archetypes are as defined by Carl Jung. They’re in eight predispositions, innate predispositions that affect personality, relationships and work. So I refer to them as patterns because I find the language too hard to get my head around and too hard to communicate with. So these patterns are common patterns. And, and the thing is, is that every human being has these patterns. Every human being has these patterns and expresses through them. And so one of them is the victim, the other saboteur, and the prostitute. And when I say prostitute, people right away think, ‘Oh, well, I’m not involved in the sex trade.’ While the sex trade is a very, very minute part of that archetypal pattern. That archetypal pattern is about how we give our power away. And I watch women give their power away all the time. So that archetypal pattern is huge for us women, right?

April: Yes.

Katharina: And so these three patterns protect the child because their goal, their ultimate goal is to keep the child safe. And if we live in survival 70% of the time in our life, then they’ve done a damn good job of keeping us safe, because I’m seeing a lot of people live to a ripe old age. But that doesn’t allow us to expand and grow. That is a life that we are born – a fated life that we’re born into through these generational stories. And it shows up – survival shows up as staying small because we can control small, we can manage everything that’s small. But if it gets too big, we feel a lot of control. It’s about limitation. We limit ourselves, ‘No, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. No. Too big. Not safe. I can’t.’ It’s about disempowerment and it’s about safety in the tribe. So we hide, we hide in the tribe, we hide where we feel we belong because we’re safe with all those people. And we’re all doing the same thing, so it must be okay. And so the key is, is that we need to liberate ourselves. We need to liberate ourselves from these stories so that we can be free to be who we really came to be, to be our potential and to live a full, full life. And so you’d asked the question, what can we do to free ourselves? Well, the first step is to become aware of the, patterns, how these patterns expressed through us. Because we just talked about just a very few of the, of how the patterns expressed, but very common expressions.

So we need to learn about the patterns and we need to understand our relationship with them. First of all, we have to say, okay, I might not see this in me, but I’m willing to explore it. And when we do that, that shifts everything and the universe has a beautiful way of showing us what we haven’t been seeing. So that’s, that’s the first step is it’s doing that. And that’s – when people have taken that step, that’s when I can come into their life as a guide. I can not be my best with people that have not made the choice to look within themselves because then they can’t show up as their best. And I can’t show up as my best. And my work is about the people that I work with, we raise each other up. It’s, we’re in it together. We’re a team. I’m not the healer. I am, I have the healer, the, I have the healer archetype expresses through me. I can hold the space for that healing, but I can, I guide the person to be in their own healing process because only they can heal themselves. So that awareness is key. We can’t work together and I can’t support the healing process without that awareness. Does that does that make sense? .

April: It does, it does, yes, thank you for that.

Katharina: And so, I’d just love to share why I’m so passionate about this, it’s just, my story of my own healing. Uh I had, my life journey has been about healing my one of the major family stories that I was aware of. I’m sure there’s others that I’m perhaps I’m not aware of, but I’m sure they’ll come if I need to work on those.

So in 2016 as you know I sold my home and – my husband and I sold our home. We sold most of our possessions and we went to Australia for three years. And the reason behind that was, is that my daughter was pregnant with her first child and I had promised her that when she got pregnant, I would be there for her and would spend the first few months with her after the baby was born. But that’s not what unfolded, what unfolded was a three year experience because that’s what it needed to be, not just a few months. So I had no idea of the healing that had done and that this was the next step in my journey. And so in 2016 and the end of may, I arrived in Australia. My granddaughter was born the end of June. And on her birthday the day that she was born, I had the absolute honour – and here comes the emotion because this was so big for me – I had the honour of holding my granddaughter’s head in my hand, in the palm of my hand as she was crowning, as her head was coming out, as she was coming into the world and then when I just thought, I just thought that life could not get possibly any better, I had the opportunity of witnessing her, my granddaughter birthing into my daughter’s loving hands. My daughter had no intention of receiving her daughter into her hands, that was not the plan, but that is what needed to unfold in that moment because there was a greater plan here at work and in that moment, in that moment I saw my granddaughter being born, but more than that, my daughter, giving, her body was giving my granddaughter, her daughter and receiving into her own hands. Her body was giving and she was receiving into her hands. This is so powerful. There’s no language to really describe it. That this little girl with being given and received into light and I didn’t realize the magnitude of that. It took me weeks to process that, to process that one moment because it was so profound. My granddaughter is the first female in my family to be born into being enough because my family story was if you were born a girl, as soon as your gender was determined, your fate was sealed. Being born a girl in my family was synonymous with not being enough and you lived that family story. That was it. That was your fate. And I had spent my entire life living and working with and healing that story, and it was in that moment that I realized that that story had been healed. That’s a, there was now a space for a new story because this was the first girl that was not going to live out that fate and story, so it worked out with visas and everything.

It’s just amazing how it all came together. I have no explanation for how it all worked out. But I was able to spend the three years after my granddaughter was born with my daughter, or I should say at least 27 months of that three years, which was a huge amount of time. And I didn’t know what I was, what I was supposed to do, but it soon became very clear that there was residue left from this story. Residue left in my body, residue left in my daughter’s body from having lived this family’s story. And my job was to show up, not as the mother, but as the Crone, to help my daughter and myself in the process to release this residue. So the three years was spent, that every time my daughter faltered in knowing that she was enough as a woman or enough as a mother, my job was to shine the light and to keep shining it brighter and brighter and brighter until she got it and that residue was gone, that residue was not there. And it was the most absolutely incredible life experience that I’ve ever had. And when I left Australia, I said to myself, ‘If I was to die tomorrow, it’s okay because I have lived something so beautiful that it’s okay.’ It’s, I had never ever dreamed I would have that experience. And that’s the experience that came from healing my own story. And now myself, my daughter and my granddaughter gets write a new story for future generations. And it’s not just for my family, but for all – a new story for all little girls, for all little boys. It’s so powerful. That’s the power of this work.

April: Wow. That is really, it’s really touching and inspiring.

Katharina: So that’s the passion that drives me, April. That’s why I have the courage to go up, go out and show up how I’ve never been able to show up before because I am so passionate. I have a huge, massively transformative purpose and it is to, you know, be part of the solution for the healing of humanity and our planet and everything that it, and that is shifting the consciousness of these generational stories that are keeping us from being the creators that we were born to be.

April: So you’re launching your work in this realm on February 29th with a workshop. Tell me about the workshop and what it entails and how people can be involved.

Katharina: Oh well. It’s February 29th it’s in Halifax. It’s at the Women’s Council House, which I just feel is a perfect setting to launch from. It’s from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and so the workshop is about exploring intergenerational stories and you don’t – all you need, the only prerequisite is to be on the journey and you will be given at the workshop everything that you need to start this. So that by the end of the day, women, everybody if they’re in the process and committed to it, we’ll leave with having uncovered at least one intergenerational story that is stopping them from being their best and they will be with tools to continue the exploration. And also I have decided, I’ve come up with a way to be able to, in a number of ways, to continue support the women after they leave the workshop because this truly is about raising each other up.


Katharina is launching her new adventure, Unsticking from Story with a workshop taking place on February 29 at the Women’s Council House in Halifax from 11 am – 5 pm. Registration is $200. For more information on her workshop, which includes all of the materials you need to start your journey and follow up support from Katharina, contact Katharina or visit her Facebook page.

The Ripple Effect Podcast

About the Podcast

April MacKinnon dives into how reframing our self-limiting beliefs and behaviours and bravely chasing our dreams, ripple out to change the world, one action at a time. And how, sometimes, it is the small moments in life that lead to a complete pivot in perspective, only to be found in hindsight. More about April »

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