why you keep attracting THAT person: a meditation on inner work for leaders


lisa fabrega

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Why, why why do I keep attracting this type of person into my business?

I could hear my client’s frustrated voice coming through on the other end of the phone. I have a million dollar business, I’ve done the inner work, I have boundaries. I just don’t understand why this kind of person keeps showing up at least once a year in a client, team member, or colleague.

And I knew exactly how she felt. Just six months ago I had had to kick someone out of a program for behaving horrifically at a retreat and almost ruining the entire weekend.

When you’re called to impact a lot of people, it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into different personalities.  

You will meet people who are deeply grateful for the work they do with you, who stay in touch with you forever as you watch their lives flourish.  

And you will meet people that no matter how hard you try, are just not ready to move past their wounds yet.  

You will meet people who are hell-bent on projecting the enemy onto you and people who will pedestalize you only to gain the ability to tear you down. Most of the time, these people are simply wounded and are working their stuff out onto you because you are a bright light, and therefore, the most easily found target for their frustrations.

The vast majority of the people who will come into your sphere will be wonderful. That’s been the case for me in my transformational business for the last 8 years. I still remember each one of their faces and voices. Many of them still send me notes letting me know how much our work years ago meant to them, how they are still using the tools, still growing, reaching new milestones. These people are the ones that keep me going.

Yet, it’s also the most difficult for me to deal with who have made me grow the most.

On my first retreat that I ever hosted, about 7 years ago, I was so nervous. I had worked on myself for months leading up to this, trying to remove that voice in my head that said “you’re a fraud! And everyone will see it when you stand up there! You’re not THAT kind of woman who can pull this off! How dare you think you can??!!”

As the retreat started, most of the women participating seemed to respond really well to the material and I relaxed. But there was one woman I kept getting strange vibes from. She didn’t want to participate in the activities. Sat with arms crossed over her chest. Looked me up and down suspiciously. Made slightly catty comments about what I was wearing.  

When we did an exercise to help us find the victimized language we use in our lives and how to transform it into empowered language, all hell broke loose.  

As her coach, and part of the exercise we had all agreed to do, I kindly pointed out how she might flip that language a little bit to something that would give her a new perspective. She responded defensively, pointing her finger in my face aggressively and cutting me down.

I was MORTIFIED. As I looked around at the room at the other women, they were horrified and upset. You could have cut the tension in the room with a knife.

I was the leader here. I didn’t have the option to react on her level. I had to keep it together and lead by example.  

I took a deep breath and handled it compassionately, yet firmly, and we moved on. But I was shaking inside. I felt as if I had just been verbally and energetically abused (I basically had been).

After the retreat was over, I sat with this interaction for a while and how it brought up so much fear, pain and discomfort for me. And I realized this client had simply shown up as a mirror for me.  She was my worst fear come true, the little voice in my head saying “you’re a fraud! How DARE you think you can do this?”

This had been a gift for me in many ways. I had had to face that “fraud” voice head on, through this client. And I suspect the tiny part of her that was looking for a way to avoid her own demons, found the part in me that was still a tiny bit wobbly and attacked it.

As the years went on, I had many other experiences like this. Once a woman walked up to me at a conference, and spoke to me nastily because she had written me for travel tips to Panama (which has nothing to do with my business), and my assistant had replied to her. She was personally insulted that I hadn’t replied to her myself. So naturally, she had to lambast me, a total stranger, in public at a conference. (???)

I noticed over time that, like clockwork, at least 1-3 clients like this showed up every year in some form or other. In comparison to all the amazing clients I have always been blessed with, it was a small number. But the interactions with them were emotionally impactful enough that it got me thinking, “what the heck is going on here? Why is this woman showing up consistently for me?”

It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I got sent a barrage of verbally abusive, toxic messages from a client (over a mistake she made, mind you), that I realized what was really going on there.

With these few difficult clients, I noticed I always had the same feeling in my gut when I interacted with them. It was the same feeling I got with the friends I had had to let go of over the years. The same feeling I had with my ex-boyfriend of many moons ago.

That was a clue.

And in time, I realized, it was the same feeling I had when a certain type of toxic dynamic came up between me and my family. I was attracting my family in every one of these people! Well, not specifically my family (my family is filled with multi-faceted people with many good qualities, too), but a certain dynamic with my family that had always been unhealthy for me.

The dynamic was “you don’t want to accept me and you don’t want to be woken up, but I’m going to keep trying to wake you up and be devoted to you, even though you have no interest in transforming this pattern and you keep abusing me.”

As a child my nervous system had co-regulated itself to this dynamic. And so, whenever it was missing, my body would unconsciously go looking for it. Hence, the friends, clients, and teammates that I attracted that always recreated this dynamic for me.

So the work now was all about learning how to co-regulate the nervous system to a NEW dynamic. One that was healthier for me and that I truly desired.

I did the soul work to establish this new dynamic for my nervous system. I saw results within a few months. And now a few years later, I see the results significantly. I hardly ever have a difficult client or community member who crosses a line now. And when I do, I don’t waste time trying to get them to “see” or spend a ton of time engaging in the drama of it all. If a person is not ready, they aren’t ready. Period. So, I simply end the relationship. I am just not available for that dynamic anymore.

There is no point in being devoted to a person that does not want to be woken up and is perfectly happy to stay in a dynamic that is toxic for you.

This is not a judgment against them. They have the right to be wherever they are in their process. But I’m clear that I’m not available for that part of their process, because it is not healthy for my nervous system to keep engaging in that kind of dynamic.

This is the work I did with my client, who I mentioned at the top of this post. We did deep soul work around identifying the pattern she was reliving. By the end of the week, she contacted me to let me know that she was able to have a really great, honest, and clarifying conversation with her “difficult client.” Whereas she had previously been afraid to do so, this time she had let the client go with love, yet, with clear, firm boundaries.  

We changed the languaging in her contracts and on the application page for her coaching offers. This new language had a different vibration. The vibration that says “this is what I am and am not available for.” So naturally, it repelled those who wanted to stir up drama and relive that dynamic with her, and attracted those who were more soul-aligned with her.

Her ego was afraid to let go of this client. What about the money she’d be losing? How would she fill that spot? Yes, even this uber-successful client who had no lack of financial success was worried about this.  

But, as she made these new changes to welcome more of what she wanted, her vibration as a leader shifted in everything she wrote to her community. Within a few days of doing this, a NEW client that was a dream to work with flowed right in to replace the old client. Hello new dynamics and goodbye old ones.

Why should we care about this as leaders and high-impacters?

Because when we have a great vision, and we are here to ascend to the highest levels of impact, our energy is one of the most important things to guard and monitor.  

The amount of focus and energy we need to leave our legacy in the world is large. We cannot afford to have any of that focus and energy wasted on dealing with difficult clients, colleagues, and team members who drain little bits of focus away from us.

Legacy-makers are master guardians of their time and energy.  

As leaders with big missions, it can be easy to get caught up in the more “logic-based” aspects of our business. Facebook ads, business models, hiring business coaches to help with strategy.

But no amount of strategy can fix dynamics at the soul-level.

When we do the internal soul work, the impact of letting these old dynamics go ends up showing up in our external world too. This is why for years, I have worked with leaders who, through doing soul work, have seen their revenues increase, their team dynamics have become more easy to manage, and they are working less and less in their businesses, and enjoying their lives more.

Imagine, if you’ve been so successful with these dynamics still at play in your life and business, how much more successful you’ll be when these dynamics are healed and no longer happening. Tiny tweaks, HUGE results.

Everything about leaving your legacy in the world becomes easier when you stop placing strategy over soul and you prioritize the internal work that leaders must do to maximize their impact. (I’m not talking about any old internal work. I’m talking about internal work specifically made for legacy-makers, because that work is different).


  • Identify a dynamic that keeps showing up in your life or business.
  • Ask yourself “what is the common thread? How do all these situations feel similar in my body?”
  • When you find it, this will point you to where this pattern started and what your nervous system co-regulated itself to. Now you have a clear understanding of why this keeps happening over and over, and where to start untangling this.
  • Hire someone to help you work through that. (I have only 2 spots left this year for high-level leaders who want to do the internal soul work that will take their work and impact to the next level. If you’re a high-impact leader who is looking for deep support from a master coach, you can apply for one of only two spots left here.)


What resonated about this for you? I’d love to know in the comments below.


With love,